Live 29 Sep 1976 version

[Spoken:] This is a song called uh... called "The Promise".

Johnny works in a factory, Billy works downtown
Terry works in a rock and roll band searching for that million-dollar sound
But me I don't do nothing much, I spend a lot of time alone
Some nights I go to the drive-in, some nights I don't sleep home
You see I followed that dream just like those guys did way up on the screen
??? Challenger down Route 9 through the dead ends and all the bad scenes
And when the promise was broken, I cashed in a few of my dreams

Well see I built that Challenger by myself, but I needed money and so I sold it
And I lived a secret I should've kept to myself, but I got drunk one night and I told it
All my life I fought that fight that no one man can ever win
Every day it just keeps getting harder to live the dreams I'm believing in
Thunder Road, I stay up every morning until it's light
Thunder Road, there's something dying out on the highway tonight

Well you know now I won big once and I hit the coast, oh but somehow I paid the big cost
Inside I felt like I was carrying the broken spirits of all the other ones who lost
And when the promise was broken you go on living, but man it takes something from down in your soul
Like when the truth is spoken and it don't make no difference, something in your heart grows cold
Well I followed that dream me and some guys through the dead towns and all two-bit bars
And when the promise was broken, I was drunk and far away from home sleeping with a stranger in a borrowed car
Oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh-oh, here's one for the lost lovers and all the fixed games
Oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh-oh, here's one for the tires rushing by in the rain
Oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh-oh, remember what me and Billy we'd always say
Oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh-oh, we were gonna take it all and throw it all away


The above lyrics are for the live 29 Sep 1976 performance of THE PROMISE at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA, during what is known as The Lawsuit Tour. This version features newly rewritten lyrics.

Promotional poster for the 29-30 Sep 1979 shows at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
Promotional poster for the 29-30 Sep 1979 shows at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
(Taken from Brucebase)
Ticket stub for the 29 Sep 1976 show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
Ticket stub for the 29 Sep 1976 show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA

Despite the marvelous reception received by both Born To Run and the tour which followed, the relationship between Bruce Springsteen and his now former manager and producer Mike Appel was deteriorating. In July 1976 the storm broke; Mike Appel wrote to Springsteen saying that he would not allow Jon Landau (Springsteen's friend and co-producer of Born To Run) to produce the next album, citing a particular paragraph from their original agreement. Springsteen replied on 27 Jul 1976 by firing manager Mike Appel and suing him and his management company Laurel Canyon Ltd. in Federal Court in Manhattan, claiming fraud, breach of trust, and undue influence. Appel counter-sued on 29 Jul 1976 in New York State Supreme Court, asking the court to prohibit Springsteen and Jon Landau from working together in studio. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band were slated to enter the studio that year for the recording of a new album, except that on 15 Sep 1976 the judge in the lawsuits case ruled that Springsteen was enjoined from any further recording with Columbia Records until Appel's suit was resolved. This would drag for about a year. Meanwhile, Springsteen continued gigging, and in the process broke his self-imposed rule of not playing the larger arenas. This was basically because he was not able to put a record out, and it was the only way his fans would be able to hear him at all. The tour became known as "The Lawsuit Tour" (62 know dates, August 1976 to March 1977).


Some of the above lyrics might be guessed or not correct, and they are open for revisions and corrections. If you can assist, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of THE PROMISE on this website:

THE PROMISE [Official 1977 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Official 1978 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Official 1999 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 1]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 2]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 3]
THE PROMISE [Live 03 Aug 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 29 Sep 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 30 Oct 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 19 May 1978 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 23 May 1978 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 01 Jul 2000 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 20 Jul 2005 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 07 Dec 2010 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 08 Feb 2014 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 22 Apr 2014 version]
THE PROMISE [Graziano Romani's cover version]

Page last updated: 18 Jan 2016