Live 22 Sep 1979 version
The screen door slams, Mary's dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't you run back inside, you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
And that's alright with me
You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summers playing in vain for a savior to rise from these streets
Now I ain't no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
What else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
The night's busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting down on the tracks
Oh oh come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road,
oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road
Now I got this guitar and I learned how to make her talk
My car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open, the ride it ain't free
And I know you're lonely, these words that I ain't spoken
Tonight we'll be free, all the promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
In the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
You get to the porch, they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
It's a town full of losers, we're pulling out of here to win
The above lyrics are for the live 22 Sep 1979 performance of THUNDER ROAD at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, during the MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future. The song was played in a full-band arrangement. The parts in bold are sung by the crowd.
The live 22 Sep 1979 performance of THUNDER ROAD was released on the No Nukes home video in 1980 and was also included on Springsteen's Video Anthology / 1978-88 home video in 1989. The video was posted on Bruce Springsteen's VEVO YouTube channel in March 2015.
Shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown in Pennsylvania in March 1979, a coalition of performers and activists opposed the use of nuclear power and founded Musicians United For Safe Energy (MUSE). The anti-nuclear group was the brainchild of four performers (Jackson Browne, John Hall of the 70's band Orleans, Bonnie Raitt, and Graham Nash) and four antinuclear activists (Sam Lovejoy, Howard Kohn, Tom Campbell, and David Fenton).
The group organized a series of five benefit concerts billed as the "MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future", held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, from 19 to 23 Sep 1979. The goal of the concerts (and an accompanying 200,000-person rally staged in Battery Park City in New York City) was to spread awareness about the dangers of radioactive-fuelled energy and raise funds for an anti-nuclear / pro-solar campaign.
MUSE's Tom Campbell mentioned the subject to Bruce Springsteen on 03 Jun 1979 when the two met in Los Angeles at the wedding party of Springsteen's lighting director Marc Brinkman. However, it was Jackson Browne who later convinced Springsteen to join the bill for the MUSE concerts. He agreed on the condition that no politicians be given microphone time or money from the event's proceeds. He was the only musician who did not outline his reasons for joining the antinuclear movement in a short statement for publication in the MUSE program book. "Bruce felt that a statement wasn't appropriate - the music was enough," his manager, Jon Landau, explained.
The list of acts invited to play at the event also included Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash (who re-united Crosby, Stills & Nash for this one occasion), John Hall, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, James Taylor and Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers, Jesse Colin Young, Gil Scott-Heron, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, among others.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were the highlight of the event, and they performed on two nights, 21 and 22 Sep 1979. "The concerts Friday and Saturday night [21 and 22 Sep 1979] are different, and the reason is Bruce Springsteen", Daisann McLane wrote in Rolling Stone. "He has the kind of drawing power in the New York area that will pack a house for two nights in a row". The 21 Sep 1979 concert was the only sellout of the five nights. "The crowd is younger, and crazier; for the first time, I spot a few bloodied casualties being dragged down the aisles by security people. This is a Springsteen crowd, too, with little patience for preliminaries. On Friday [21 Sep 1979], Jesse Colin Young and Jackson Browne do short sets but fail to capture the allegiance of this revved-up bunch. Saturday [22 Sep 1979], Peter Tosh, who exuberantly performs twenty minutes of reggae, lopes back and forth across the stage in a burnoose and fares better, as does Tom Petty, who rocks hard but seems a little taken aback by the size of the stadium. This is a tough audience to crack. On Friday [21 Sep 1979], Chaka Khan leaves the stage in a huff. Seems she thought the audience was booing her; what she really heard was the sound of thousands of voices chanting Bruuuce! Bruuuce! [...] The crowd is his; fans are on their feet, standing on chairs from the first note, mouthing the words to every song. For the first time all week, it feels like something special is happening at Madison Square Garden. [...] The MUSE principals have been searching all week for the vibe, the feeling. Springsteen doesn't have to search for it; he walks onstage and it's there."
The event produced a 1980 theatrical movie release titled No Nukes, which includes Springsteen's performances of THE RIVER, THUNDER ROAD, and cover of Gary U.S. Bonds' QUARTER TO THREE, all taken from the 22 Sep 1979 show. No Nukes was also released on home video and a three-record live album was also created from the event. The album contains two Springsteen performances from the 21 Sep 1979 show. Springsteen's duet with Jackson Browne on STAY was chosen for the album, but since the release was a three-record set, Springsteen was asked for a an additional track. According to Dave Marsh, the rendition of THUNDER ROAD was the one Springsteen, Browne, and Jon Landau wanted, but "playing 'Stay' over and over again, they heard and liked the transition, a particularly seamless one, from 'Stay' into the band's medley of Mitch Ryder hits 'Jenny Take a Ride' and 'Devil With a Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly.' Finally, Landau suggested that the Detroit Medley was probably what should go on the record with 'Say.' The others agreed." DETROIT MEDLEY became the second Springsteen track on the live album. From the concert, record, and film, MUSE raised and donated over $1 Million to anti-nuclear and safe energy groups throughout the United States.
The No Nukes home video was released in 1980 in the U.S., the UK, and Japan. The film is now out-of-print and was not reissued on DVD or Blu-ray.
|James Taylor & Carly Simon:||Mockingbird|
|James Taylor, Carly Simon, John Hall, Graham Nash:||The Times They Are A-Changin'|
|Crosby, Stills & Nash:||Suite: Judy Blue Eyes|
|Jackson Browne:||Running On Empty|
|Before The Deluge|
|The Doobie Brothers:||Dependin' On You|
|What A Fool Believes|
|Graham Nash:||Barrel Of Pain|
|James Taylor:||Your Smiling Face|
|Stand And Fight|
|Gil Scott-Heron:||We Almost Lost Detroit|
|Graham Nash:||Our House|
|Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band:||THUNDER ROAD [22 Sep 1979]|
|THE RIVER [22 Sep 1979]|
|QUARTER TO THREE [22 Sep 1979]|
|The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Phoebe Snow, Jackson Browne:||Takin' It To The Streets|
|Joy Ryder, Avis Davis:||No More Nukes|
|John Hall, Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne:||Power|
|Jesse Colin Young:||Get Together|
|Plus documentary footage directed by Barbara Kopple and Haskell Wexler.|
Video Anthology / 1978-88 is a collection of 18 Bruce Springsteen music videos and concert performances, released in VHS format on 31 Jan 1989. The home video was also released on LaserDisc.
Sonny reissued the video on 16 Jan 2001 in DVD format. Titled The Complete Video Anthology / 1978-2000, the new release added a second disc with 15 additional music video, concert performances, and television appearances.
Thanks Danny and Roberto for the No Nuke UK VHS scan.
Please contact me if you have scans for or info about any official release containing Bruce Springsteen's live 22 Sep 1979 version of THUNDER ROAD that's not mentioned on this page. Any additions, comments, or corrections to this page are welcome. You can contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.
List of available versions of THUNDER ROAD on this website:THUNDER ROAD [Album version]