Album version

I got my discharge from Fort Irwin, took a place on the San Diego county line
Felt funny being a civilian again, it'd been some time
My wife had died a year ago, I was still trying to find my way back whole
I went to work for the INS on the line with the California Border Patrol

Bobby Ramirez was a ten-year veteran and we became friends
His family was from Guanajuato, so the job it was different for him
He said, "They risk death in the deserts and the mountains, pay all they got to the smugglers rings
We send 'em home, they come right back again, Carl, hunger is a powerful thing"

Well I was good at doing what I was told, I kept my uniform pressed and clean
At night I chased their shadows through the arroyos and ravines
Drug runners, farmers with their families, young women with little children by their sides
Come night we'd wait out in the canyons, try to keep 'em from crossing the line

Well the first time that I saw her she was in the holding pen
Our eyes met and she looked away then she looked back again
Her hair was black as coal, her eyes reminded me of what I'd lost
She had a young child crying in her arms, I asked, "SeƱora, is there anything I can do?"

There's a bar in Tijuana where me and Bobby drink with the same people we'd sent back the day before
We met there, she said her name was Louisa, she was from Sonora and had just come north
We danced and I held her in my arms, I knew what I would do
She said she had some family in Madera county, if she her child and her younger brother could just get through

At night they come across the levy in the searchlights dusty glow
We'd rush 'em in our Broncos, force 'em back down into the river below
She climbed into my truck, she leaned towards me and we kissed
As we drove her brother's shirt slipped open and I saw the tape across his chest

We were just about on the highway when Bobby's jeep come up in the dust on my right
I pulled over and let my engine run and stepped out into his lights
I felt myself moving, felt my gun resting 'neath my hand
We stood there staring at each other as off through the arroyo she ran

Bobby Ramirez he never said nothing, six months later I left the line
I drifted to the central valley and took what work yeah I could find
At night I searched the local bars and the migrant towns
Looking for my Louisa with the black hair falling down



THE LINE is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1995 album The Ghost Of Tom Joad. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of THE LINE as released in 1995.

Composition and Recording


The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Following the Jan-Feb 1995 studio reunion with the E Street Band and the release of Greatest Hits, Bruce Springsteen writing activity increased significantly. Between March and September 1995, Springsteen wrote and recorded about two-albums worth of new songs. From the scattered comments made by Springsteen and other session participants, it would seem that over an album's worth of solo material and over an album's worth of band material were recorded during these sessions. The Ghost Of Tom Joad album consist of 7 solo tracks and 5 band tracks. The songs Springsteen recorded solo may have spanned the entire session period and the band sessions appear to have been split into two or three phases during the spring and summer of 1995.

In his 1998 book Songs, Springsteen wrote: "I knew that The Ghost of Tom Joad wouldn't attract my largest audience. But I was sure the songs on it added up to a reaffirmation of the best of what I do. The record was something new, but it was also a reference point to the things I tried to stand for and be about as a songwriter.

The Ghost Of Tom Joad was released on Columbia Records on 21 Nov 1995. It was produced by Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1997.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Bruce Springsteen -- The Ghost Of Tom Joad

The Ghost Of Tom Joad features 12 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 50:16.

Other Official Releases


Bruce Springsteen -- King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996
The live 19 Mar 1996 version of THE LINE was released on the King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996 official live download in 2017.

Live History: on-tour


Live History: off-tour



As far as it's known, no artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's THE LINE.

Available Versions

List of available versions of THE LINE on this website:

THE LINE [Album version]

Page last updated: 27 Feb 2017