THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD

Live 05 May 1997 version


Award ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall:

[Introductory speech by ???:] ...of the singing voice is sometimes concentrated on vocal force and tonal beauty. As demonstrated by, to mention one example, very persistent these last years, the Three Tenors, with all due respect, for their professional skill. I dare say, that in their case, the message is in the main the sound. I'm confident that Bruce Springsteen, if he were able to sing like them -- which he might be, I don't know -- never would feel that this would be enough. With his words and his music, Bruce Springsteen wanted from the very beginning to convey a message, or rather messages, going-giving ??? and very early, the world listened and responded. He became a longed-for reality to admirers and fans almost everywhere. Sometime ago -- many years now -- one of the jazz groups most thought of was the Jazz Messengers. This year, the Polar Prize has proudly formed a prize winning team, the spirited voice messengers Eric Ericson and Bruce Springsteen. I don't think that you will have any difficulty in relating to each other. We are truly happy and honored to count you among our prize winners.

[Ceremony host ???:] And so I would ask the prize winners to receive the Polar Prize from the hands of his Majesty the king. Would you please come up.

[Presentation by Tomas Ledin:] The American rock singer Bruce Springsteen is awarded the 1997 Polar Music Prize for an outstanding career as a singer, songwriter, and stage performer. His authority in rock music is unshakeable. For two decades now, he has been one of the most colorful personalities at the very center of the genre, and he is an uncompromising steward of the essential qualities of rock: its heavy beat and dynamic sound -- a harsh, sometimes crude, but at the same time spiritual sound ideal rooted in black rhythm and blues. In his lyrics he focuses on the little man's winding path through life with a certain melancholy and profound compassion. In a world of music where styles are fluctuating all the time, Bruce Springsteen stands with both feet firmly planted on the ground of rock 'n' roll. Although his records have sold in vast quantities, the live concert remains his natural medium. Bruce Springsteen, with his social pathos, is also a singer of the people, a modern "bard". He stands up straight and hits hard, but he does it so with discretion and not without tenderness.

Banquet at Grand Hotel:

[Banquet host ???:] Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen, the recipient, or the other of today's prices, Mr. Bruce Springsteen.

[Bruce Springsteen:] Thanks you. I was uh, thinking of trying something by the Three Tenors as Mr. ??? suggested this afternoon [chuckles]. But I've had a few Swedish toasts, and uh, Princess Lillian has suggested that I stick to my own material so...

[Bruce Springsteen performs THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD]

[P]Men walking 'long the railroad tracks
Going someplace and there's no going back
Highway patrol choppers coming up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretching 'round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleeping in their cars in the southwest
No home, no job, no peace, no rest

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Searching for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and he takes a drag
Waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
You got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathing in the city aqueduct

Well the highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad

Well now Tom said, "Ma, wherever there's a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I'll be there
Wherever somebody's fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody's struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Mom, you'll see me"

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

[Bruce Springsteen:] Thank you. Tack [Swedish for "Thank you"], thank you. Yeah, thank you [clears throat] My, my speech here, I hope... I'd uh, I'd like to thank your Majesty, uh... Princess Christine, Fru [Swedish for "Mrs."] Magnussen, Princess Lillian and your Excellency, Stig Anderson, members of the Royal Swedish Academy Of Music, members of the Polar Music Prize Committee for honoring my music tonight with this award. It's been an additional source of joy to receive this award alongside Mr. Ericsson. Uh, his choral music, particularly the chamber choir, seem to be uh, filled with the intensity and the soul of his country. And in my music I've also tried to give people a sense of the country that I come from, its physicality, its landscape, its people, its blessings and its curses. When I started out I wasn't so concerned with uh, instantaneous success or the biggest hits as I was with making music that would find its way into people's daily lives that would become a part of them. And I wanted to uh, illuminate those lives, to provide companionship, if I could, and to provide a tool for making sense of the world that we live in, uh... a map made from whatever I've gained from my own experience, uh, something that I could pass on and, and, and share... I wanted to find my audience, my spiritual community, my blood brothers and sisters, somebody I could talk to who shared my concerns and my obsessions. And a little did I expect to find that audience, not only in my hometown, but thousands of miles away across oceans, language barriers, cultural differences and for a long time now here in Sweden. That's why I'm here tonight to uh, to thank that audience for it's the audience that gives my work its deepest meaning. Uh somewhere in our search for the things that we share and that we hold in common, there's a small glimpse of a perfect world. Whether it's in the everyday heroism or the people that I've sung about for 25 years or in the impossible beauty of the voices in Mr. Ericsson's choral work, there's a sense of a higher place, a more humane community, a deeper love and understanding of one another. That's the artist's job and it's in his audience that he finds his work's fulfillment. I've been received uh, very warmly and made to feel at home here in Sweden since 1975. My only regretful performance was in 1985 when a rumour has it that my concert destroyed the foundation of the stadium at Gothenburg, you know [chuckles] [cheers]. But uh... supposedly, you know, the entire audience dancing in unison to an exuberant version of "Twist And Shout", uh... we had a good time doing it but I assure you the damage was mostly unintentional and uh [chuckles], I was initially concerned that the repair bills might be taken out of my Polar Prize money but uh, Mr. Anderson has assured me that that won't be the case so [chuckles]. But uh, I've never received an award for my body of work before, I feel like a bit of a youngster for this but I thank you for your generosity and your graciousness and I promise to continue to provide you with some fun, entertainment, laughs, something to dance to, to vacuum your floor by, to make love to your baby too [chuckles], and provide you with a little company on your own trip down Thunder Road. So I'll accept this award as pat on the back for job well done in this, the early part of my career and I hope to follow in uh, Mr. Ericsson's footsteps and I'll see you when I'm 80, alright? [chuckles] [applause]... Skal! [Swedish for "Cheers!"] [chuckles].

[Bruce Springsteen performs THUNDER ROAD]

[Banquet host ???:] Ladies and gentlemen, the American ambassador to Sweden, Thomas L Sieberth.

[American ambassador Thomas L Sieberth:] Your Majesty, Stikkan Anderson, the Royal Swedish Academy. Three years ago at these prize awards, the American recipient Quincy Jones raised his glass in toast to his Swedish skal [Swedish for "cheers"] brothers and sisters. When I hear music like that, Bruce, I feel like I'm with a real American soul mate. There is a true American ambassador sitting right there [applause]. And back in the USA, Bruce's referred to as "The Boss". I have a letter here from my boss back in Washington. "Dear Bruce, I am delighted to congratulate you in receiving the 1997 Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy Of Music. This award recognizes not only your versatility as a creative artist, but also your poetic spirit and your deep respect for the roots of your musical heritage. For more than 20 years you have been a leader in determining the direction of American rock 'n' roll. From the passionate exuberance of your early work on the New Jersey Shore, to the richly personal testament of your more recent acoustic performances, you have excelled as a songwriter, singer, guitarist, and band leader in a profession where many others would be content to do well at even one in those pursuits. As you continue to compose and perform new material, you always seem to open new doors for us, to find new expressions, timeless truth, and to help us discover the sheer joy of musical experience. I join your countless fans of all ages throughout the world in commanding you as you receive this significant musical honor. You have truly earned. Sincerely, Bill Clinton, President of United States." Thank you.[/P]

Info

The above song lyrics are for the live 05 May 1997 performance of THE GHOST OF JOAD at Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, during the Polar Music Prize awards ceremony. The song was played in a solo acoustic guitar and harmonica arrangement.

The Polar Music Prize

The Polar Music Prize is an international music prize awarded to individuals, groups, or institutions in recognition of their exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. The prize was founded in 1989 with an endowment from publisher, lyricist, and manager of the Swedish pop music group ABBA, Stig "Stikkan" Anderson, and was named after Anderson's Polar Music recording label.

In May of each year, the award ceremony is held at the Stockholm Concert Hall where the prize is given to two recipients from any discipline of music, and is broadcast on Swedish TV. It is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy Of Music, and is is presented to each laureate by Swedish King Karl Gustav XVI. The ceremony is followed by a celebratory banquet held at Stockholm's Grand Hotel.

The Polar Music Prize, whose purse is kronor 1 million (around U.S. $150,000), is considered one of the most prestigious music prizes in the world, and is even called the Nobel Prize of music. Since its inception in 1992, it was given to many winners from the popular music world including Sir Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Dylan.

The 1995 Award Ceremony

On the eve of the final leg of The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, Bruce Springsteen and Swedish choral conductor Eric Ericson received the Polar Music Prize from Swedish King Karl Gustav XVI on 05 May 1997 at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Berwaldhallen) in Stockholm, Sweden. Swedish singer, songwriter, and producer Tomas Ledin read the prize committee's citation of Bruce Springsteen.

During a celebratory banquet held at Stockholm's Grand Hotel later that night, Springsteen performed a set of two solo acoustic numbers on guitar and harmonica: THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD and THUNDER ROAD. He read his acceptance speech between the two songs, and when he left the stage, American ambassador Thomas L. Sieberth read a "thank you" speech on behalf of U.S. president Bill Clinton. Both the ceremony and the following banquet were broadcast on Swedish TV.

Credits

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the help in transcribing the speeches.

Request

You can send additions, corrections, or comments at , or by using the below form. You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD on this website:

THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [1995 album version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [2006 studio version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [2009 (first) studio version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [2009 (second) studio version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [2014 album version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 28 Oct 1995 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 27 Nov 1995 (NBC Studios) version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 09 Dec 1995 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 20 Feb 1996 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 23 Feb 1996 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 19 Mar 1996 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 27 Apr 1996 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 26 Feb 1997 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 05 May 1997 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 22 Jan 1998 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 10 Dec 1998 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 19 Mar 1999 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 10 Mar 2000 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [26 Jun 2000 rehearsal version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 19 Feb 2002 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 16 Sep 2003 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 14 May 2005 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 19 Nov 2006 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 07 Apr 2008 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 04 Oct 2008 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 05 Oct 2008 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 06 Oct 2008 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 15 Apr 2009 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 03 May 2009 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 07 May 2009 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 29 Oct 2009 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 15 Mar 2012 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 26 Apr 2012 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 11 Jul 2012 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 11 Feb 2014 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 16 Jul 2016 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Live 25 Aug 2016 version]
THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD [Rage Against The Machine's cover version]

Page last updated: 08 Sep 2016