THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD

2009 (second) studio version


Men walking 'long the railroad tracks
Going someplace, 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 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"

Well 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


Info

The above lyrics are for a solo acoustic studio version of THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD recorded in 2009. It was exclusively released on the 2009 various artists soundtrack album The People Speak.

Various artists -- The People Speak
Various artists -- The People Speak

CD - Verve (B0013762-02) - USA, 2009

Released on 08 Dec 2009.

Bruce Springsteen was inspired by the works of historian and activist Howard Zinn. In an interview published in the 15 Nov 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, he told Joe Levy: "Howard Zinn's A People's History Of The United States had an enormous impact on me. It set me down in a place that I recognized and felt I had a claim to. It made me feel that I was a player in this moment in history, as we all are, and that this moment in history was mine, somehow, to do with whatever I could. It gave me a sense of myself in the context of this huge American experience and empowered me to feel that in my small way, I had something to say, I could do something. It made me feel a part of history, and gave me life as a participant."

The People Speak is a 2009 documentary narrated by historian Howard Zinn and is based on his books A People's History Of The United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices Of A People's History Of The United States. It premiered on History on 13 Dec 2009. The film weaves archival footage and interviews with musical performances and dramatic readings of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans throughout the country's history. Most of the movie was shot on location in front of a live audiences at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, MA, in January 2008 and at the Malibu Performing Arts Center in Malibu, CA, in 2008. Other performances from around the country filmed in 2008 and 2009 were also used.

For the film, Bruce Springsteen recorded two new solo acoustic renditions (guitar and harmonica) of THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD and Woody Guthrie's THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. The performances were filmed live at his home studio in New Jersey probably around early 2009. THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND was used in the documentary, closing the film before the credits roll, while THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD was posted on Bruce Springsteen's official website in January 2010. Later in 2009 a new version of THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD was recorded (in the same arrangement) and released exclusively on The People Speak soundtrack album.

Actor Josh Brolin (who's featured in the film and also co-produced it) was instrumental in getting some of the production's biggest names on board, including Bruce Springsteen. "We brought in Bruce Springsteen. It turned out Bruce was a massive fan of Howard's," Brolin told USA Today in a 2009 interview. Springsteen taped his parts in New Jersey while Brolin was at work. "They ended up spending five or six hours. And I got this little card from Bruce Springsteen that said, 'Josh, thank you so much for making my childhood dream come true. I had the greatest day of my life.' I was very stoked," Brolin said.

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: 01 Sep 2016