Live 30 Oct 1976 version

[Spoken intro:] If you ever wanted something you could never have... This is called "The Promise".

Johnny works in a factory and Billy works downtown
Terry works in a rock and roll band lookin' for that million-dollar sound
Me, I don't do nothing much, I spend a lot of time at home
Some nights I go to the drive-in and some nights I stay home
See, I followed that dream just like those guys do way up on the screen
Drove a built-up Challenger down Route 9 through the dead ends and all the bad scenes
When the promise was broken, I cashed in a few of my own dreams

You see I built that Challenger by myself, but I needed money and so I sold it
You know I lived a secret I should'a kept to myself, but I got drunk one night and I told it
All my life I fought that fight, man, it's the one that I can not ever win
And every day it just gets harder to live the dream I'm believing in
Thunder Road, I stay up every morning to the tired light
Thunder Road, there's something burning out on the highway tonight

Now I won big once and I hit the coast, oh but somehow I paid the big cost
Inside I felt like I was carryin' the broken spirits of all the other ones who lost
When the promise is 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, how something in your heart runs cold
See I followed that dream, it was me and some guys, through the dead ends and all the two-bit bars
The night the promise was broken I was drunk and far away from home sleepin' in the backseat of a borrowed car
Thunder Road, here's one for the lost lovers and all the fixed games
Thunder Road, here's one for the tires rushing by in the rain
Thunder Road, I remember what me and Billy, we'd always say
Thunder Road, we were gonna take it all and throw it all away


The above lyrics are for the live 30 Oct 1976 performance of THE PROMISE at Palladium in New York City, NY, during what is known as The Lawsuit Tour.

Promotional ad for the 1976 six-night stand at Palladium, New York City, NY
Promotional ad for the 1976 six-night stand at Palladium, New York City, NY
(Taken from Brucebase)
Ticket stub for the 30 Oct 1976 show at Palladium, New York City, NY
Ticket stub for the 30 Oct 1976 show at Palladium, New York City, NY
(Taken from Brucebase)

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).


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

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