Official 1999 studio version
Johnny works in a factory, Billy works downtown
Terry works in a rock and roll band lookin' for that million-dollar sound
I got a job down in Darlington but some nights I don't go
Some nights I go to the drive-in and some nights I stay home
I followed that dream just like those guys do up on the screen
I drove my Challenger down Route 9 through the dead ends and all the bad scenes
And the promise was broken, I cashed in a few of my own dreams
Well now I built that Challenger by myself, but I needed money and so I sold it
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, a fight that you can never win
Every day it just gets harder to live a dream you're believing in
Thunder Road, oh baby you were so right
Thunder Road, there's something dyin' down on the highway tonight
Well I won big once and I hit the coast, hey but I paid the big cost
Inside I felt like I was carryin' broken spirits of all the other ones who lost
When the promise is broken you go on living, but it steals something from down in your soul
Like when the truth is spoken and it don't make no difference, something in your heart runs cold
I followed that dream through the southwestern tracks, that dead ends in two-bit bars
When the promise was broken I was far away from home sleepin' in the backseat of a borrowed car
Thunder Road, here's for the lost lovers and all the fixed games
Thunder Road, here's for the tires rushing by in the rain
Thunder Road, remember Billy what we'd always say
Thunder Road, we were gonna take it all then throw it all away
The above lyrics are for a studio version of THE PROMISE that was recorded in 1999. It was released on the 18 Tracks collection in 1999.
According to interview comments made by engineer Toby Scott (Springsteen's audio archivist and recording engineer), it was in February 1998 during solo sessions being conducted at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ, that Springsteen told Scott that the time was right to proceed with the long-anticipated box set of archived, unreleased studio takes. THE PROMISE was going to be included on the Tracks box set in 1998, but Springsteen said that he didn't have a version that he liked enough to release. He rejected it opting to record a new version in 1999 that would be issued on 18 Tracks. Apparently, it is the unofficial studio version 3 that Springsteen rejected for the box set, though he later released it in an edited form on The Promise in 2010 (see official 1977 studio version for more details).
The lyrics on the 18 Tracks booklet reflect the unofficial studio version 3 much more than those of this official 1999 studio version. This supports the claim that it is that particular 1977 studio take (unofficial studio version 3) that was first considered to be included on the Tracks box set before Springsteen rejecting it and re-recording a solo piano version in 1999.
Although the Tracks project dominated activities during the remainder of 1998, Springsteen also recorded numerous new songs at his home studio during the period between February 1998 and February 1999, although little has been released. According to the 18 Tracks compilation album liner notes, THE PROMISE was recorded on 12 Feb 1999 at Thrill Hill Recording. It was produced by Springsteen and featured him solo on vocals and piano. Toby Scott is credited for recording and mixing the track. The song was specifically recorded for the 18 Tracks collection; it's one of three "bonus" tracks on 18 Tracks that were not originally included on the Tracks box set.
18 Tracks is an album compiling 15 tracks from the Tracks box set, in addition to 3 previously unreleased recordings. The collection release was intended for the more casual fans who didn't purchase the pricey 4-disc box set. It also served the purpose as a promotional tie-in for the E Street Band's The Reunion Tour that was announced at the same time of the sampler's release.
18 Tracks was released on 13 Apr 1999 on Columbia Records. It features 18 Springsteen compositions and clocks at 71:12. The was released on CD, cassette tape, and as a vinyl record.
|1.||GROWIN' UP||Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY|
|2.||SEASIDE BAR SONG||Recorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|3.||RENDEZVOUS||Recorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY|
|4.||HEARTS OF STONE||Recorded on 14 Oct 1977 at Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|5.||WHERE THE BANDS ARE||Recorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|6.||LOOSE ENDS||Recorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|7.||I WANNA BE WITH YOU||Recorded on 31 May 1979at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|8.||BORN IN THE U.S.A.||Recorded in January 1982 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ|
|9.||MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN||Recorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|10.||LION'S DEN||Recorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|11.||PINK CADILLAC||Recorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|12.||JANEY DON'T YOU LOSE HEART||Recorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|13.||SAD EYES||Recorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|14.||PART MAN, PART MONKEY||Recorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|15.||TROUBLE RIVER||Recorded on 06 Apr 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|16.||BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGE||Recorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA|
|17.||THE FEVER||Recorded on 16 May 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|18.||THE PROMISE||Recorded on 12 Feb 1999 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ|
Besides its release on 18 Tracks, the official 1999 studio version of THE PROMISE was also included on one promotional single.
THE PROMISE [official 1999 studio version] was nominated for two 1999 Grammy Awards, Best Rock Song and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. It lost for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' SCAR TISSUE and Lenny Kravitz's AMERICAN WOMAN respectively. Bruce Springsteen did not attend the award ceremonies which took place on 23 Feb 2000 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Bruce Springsteen's official 1999 studio version of THE PROMISE appears in one movie.
List of available versions of THE PROMISE on this website:THE PROMISE [Official 1977 studio version]