THUNDER ROAD

Live 04 Apr 2005 version


[Spoken:] "Thunder Road", alright? (cheers). Alright. Let me get to it.

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
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, darling 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 little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Well 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 summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets
I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, 's beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
The night's bustin' 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 Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
I know it's late but we can make it if we run
Oh-oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
Car's out back if you're ready to take that long long walk
Your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
I know you're lonely, those words that I ain't spoken
Tonight we'll be free, all promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the 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
But when you get to the porch they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
This town full of losers and we're pulling outta here to win

[Spoken:] Thank you. Thanks. Thanks. Alright. Ah. I wanna try that one one more time, you got that, don't you? (chuckles - cheers). Alright. This is the last one solo, let me see if you like it this time... master my piano technique here (starts playing on piano). Here we go (continues playing). (stops playing) I didn't do very well (chuckles)... I hadn't enough mastered... alright, here we go (chuckles). (resumes playing "Thunder Road", take #2)

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
Yeah that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
Just can't face myself alone again
Don't you run back inside, darling 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 little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh 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 summer praying in vain for saviour to rise from these streets
Well I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, 's beneath dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
'Xcept roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
The night's bustin' open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
Now 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 Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, Thunder Road
It's lying out there like a killer in the sun
I know it's late but we can make it if we run
Oh-oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
The car's out back if you're ready to take that long long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
I know you're lonely, those words that I ain't spoken
But 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 the skeleton frames of f- turned 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
But when you get to the porch they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
This town full of losers, hey, we're pulling outta here to win

[Spoken:] Alright. That's uh... close enough to rock 'n' roll I mean. Thanks. Alright, I...


[Spoken:] Well that song was written in west end Long Branch. I was living up the street from the ???. There's a little house, it's still there. I think it's seven and a half west end ???; little green ??? and ???. Wrote most of the songs from Born To Run in. And uh, this song kinda had a long just ???. I... we played it in a variety of different versions, uh with the band for quite a while, that were longer, and I don't know, arranging then, uh... when Jon Landau came in to produce Born To Run, he suggested that we edit it down and, and, and uh... he thought it'd be more powerful, which it was. And so I, I thank him for the, the, the shape and form that the song ended up in. Uh... what's it about, it's really a uh... it's uh, it's an invitation. You know, the... It's the opening of Born To Run was, that was my big invitation, my big... Album when I used to fold it out with me with me and Clarence smiling on it, that was the invitation card. And uh, we invite you to something [chuckles]. Not sure what yet. So, you know, the, the music was sort of, was important. The, the music, the beginning sounds like an invitation.

[Spoken:] (starts playing piano). Something, something is opening up to you, something is opening up. And what I hoped it would be when I wrote the song was what I got out of, out of rock 'n' roll music, which was the sense of a larger life, uh greater experience, hopefully more and better sex (cheers), uh, sense of fun, more fun, uh, the sense of your personal exploration and your possibilities to this, and it... the idea that it was all live somewhere inside of you, and it was, you know, just there on the edge of town. So that was an invitation, the song is, it's basically an invitation. Uh, let me see; I'll go through the lyrics for "The screen door slams, Mary's dress sways." Well that sound of the screen door slamming is so... I mean when I was a kid, "Bang!", bet I heard it a thousand times at my, my back, my back porch, you know. It meant all kinds of different things; "Bang!", what a great day, I can't wait to go outside and play, "Bang!", get your ass out of the house ???. You know, "Bang!", it was like, it was just, just such a resonant sound that, that, it seemed, always seemed to be the beginning of something. So "The screen door slams, Mary's dress sways", there's Mary again, "Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays / Roy Orbison singing for the lonely", big... listened to Roy Orbison a lot doing this record. And uh, just his, the dark sense of romanticism, and uh, uh, the operaticness and uh, uh, my singing on this particular record was my attempt to, my pathetic attempt to, to come close, you know. But uh, so I was... "Roy Orbison singing for the lonely / Hey that's me, I want you only / Don't turn me home again / Can't face myself alone again"; let's get something started. "Don't run back inside, you know just what I'm here for / You're scared, you're thinking maybe we ain't that young anymore"; now I was only twenty-four when I wrote that line, that kinda scared me now. But uh, uh, the reason I think was these songs were written in 1974, which is only two years after the end of the Vietnam war -- nobody was that young anymore. And so, I regain, "Show little faith, there's magic in the night / You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright / 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 summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets

[Spoken:] Catholic school, Catholic school, Catholic school (cheers). John Paul rest in peace, you know (chuckles). Uh... Well now...

I'm no hero, that's understood

[Spoken:] But if there's a job opening (chuckle)... Ah... let me see

All the redemption I can offer is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
What else can we do now

[Spoken:] Hmm! Now.

'Xcept roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
And the night's bustin' open, these two lanes will take us anywhere

[Spoken:] That's where it all, that's where it all happens (chuckles) (cheers). And uh... That 's like once again the music, that's were the song opens up, uh... Suddenly you are away, you're out, you're in your car, uh, you know... your hair's blowing... you're flying, you know. That was... I was trying to get that feeling so people would wanna go chase it, you know. You're trying to make people feel something so they'll go, they'll go in their own life and chase that thing, you know. Uh... where was I? (Hums). Here we are. Uh...

Hmmm take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
Trade in these things on some wheels - these wings on some wheels

[Spoken:] Gotta have your feet on the ground if you're gonna make it. It can't be a fantasy, it can't be a fairytale.

Climb in back, heaven's waiting down on the tracks

[Spoken:] We're gonna make it on our own.

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land

[Spoken:] Yes we were.

Oh oh-oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, Thunder Road

[Spoken:] Thank you Robert Mitchum. "Thunder Road". ??? got the title from a Robert Mitchum movie.

Lying out there like a killer in the sun
I know it's late but we can make it if we run
Oh oh-oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk

[Spoken:] Probably the hoaxiest line I ever wrote. And I've written a few of them let me tell you. But uh, I guess that's why I was good, you know (chuckles). It's my instrument and deliverance, uh...

I learned how to make it talk
Car's out back if you're ready to take that long long walk
From your front porch to my front - front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
I know you're lonely, these words that I ain't spoken
Tonight we'll be free, all the promises will be broken

[Spoken:] Well it's just like you know, all, all bets were off. It's a new day.

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the 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

[Spoken:] All that we will leave behind.

When you get to the porch they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
It's town full of losers and I'm pulling outta here to win

[Spoken:] Nothing left but the ride.

[Spoken:] So this was my... it was my big, my big invitation to my audience, to myself, (chuckles) to uh... anybody who was interested. Uh... my invitation to a long and earthly, very earthly journey. Hopefully in the company of uh, someone you love, people you love, and in search of a home you can feel a part of. Good luck, good evening (cheers).


Info

The above lyrics are for the live 04 Apr 2005 performance of THUNDER ROAD at Rechnitz Theater in Red Bank, NJ, during the taping of Bruce Springsteen's episode of VH1's Storytellers television series. Springsteen played the song solo on grand piano three consecutive times, the third being a line by line dissection during which he discussed the song's meaning and origin. The first and third takes (see lyrics above) of this performance of THUNDER ROAD were included on Springsteen's VH1 Storytellers DVD release, while the second take (above in bold) was edited out.

Bruce Springsteen performing THUNDER ROAD during the 04 Apr 2005 show at Rechnitz Theater, Red Bank, NJ (from the "VH1 Storytellers" DVD)
Bruce Springsteen performing THUNDER ROAD during the 04 Apr 2005 show at Rechnitz Theater, Red Bank, NJ (from the "VH1 Storytellers" DVD)

The 04 Apr 2005 Show

Storytellers is a television music series produced by the VH1 network. In each episode artists perform in front of a mostly small and intimate live audience, and tell stories about their music, writing experiences and memories, somewhat similar to MTV Unplugged. The show started in 1996, and since then many of the performances have subsequently been released on CD or DVD.

Bruce Springsteen was booked on 04 Apr 2005 for the taping of an episode of VH1's Storytellers, as part of the promotion for his upcoming Devils & Dust album release later that month. The taping took place at Rechnitz Theater, the larger of two theaters housed in the newly opened Two River Theater building in Red Bank, NJ. Springsteen played a set of eight songs on guitar and piano. He sang and dissected his songs for meaning, sometimes line by line. A question and answer session with contest-winning audience members closed the night. The setlist selection, he later revealed, was driven by a desire to showcase the different types, styles, and moods of his songs from each stage of his career.

Ticket stub for the 04 Apr 2005 show at Rechnitz Theater, Red Bank, NJ
Ticket stub for the 04 Apr 2005 show at Rechnitz Theater, Red Bank, NJ

  1. DEVILS & DUST
  2. BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
  3. BRILLIANT DISGUISE
  4. NEBRASKA (two takes)
  5. JESUS WAS AN ONLY SON (two takes)
  6. WAITIN' ON A SUNNY DAY
  7. THE RISING (two takes)
  8. THUNDER ROAD (two takes)
  9. Q&A session

An edited form of the concert aired on VH1 on 23 Apr 2005. An expanded and completely re-edited version (but not the complete show) was officially released on 06 Sep 2005 on DVD. The release, titled VH1 Storytellers, has one version of each song and part of the full Q&A session.

Bruce Springsteen -- VH1 Storytellers (DVD cover art)
Bruce Springsteen -- VH1 Storytellers (DVD cover art)

Available Versions

List of available versions of THUNDER ROAD on this website:

THUNDER ROAD [Album version]
THUNDER ROAD [Early draft]
THUNDER ROAD [Alternative version #1]
THUNDER ROAD [Alternative version #2]
THUNDER ROAD [Alternative version #3]
THUNDER ROAD [Alternative version #4]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 05 Feb 1975 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 20 Jul 1975 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 17 Oct 1975 (early show) version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 18 Oct 1975 (early show) version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 18 Nov 1975 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 31 Dec 1975 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 07 Apr 1976 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 25 Mar 1977 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 13 May 1977 (early show) version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 13 Sep 1977 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 19 Sep 1978 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 08 Dec 1978 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 22 Sep 1979 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 03 Oct 1980 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 03 Jul 1981 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 08 Jun 1984 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 19 Nov 1984 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 27 Jul 1988 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 02 Sep 1988 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 16 Nov 1990 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 22 Sep 1992 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 28 Sep 1992 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 24 Jun 1993 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 15 Feb 1995 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 21 Feb 1995 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 05 Apr 1995 (Sony Music Studios) version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 09 Jul 1995 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 05 May 1997 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 22 May 1997 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 31 Jan 1998 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 23 Oct 1999 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 27 Jun 2000 / 01 Jul 2000 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 19 Oct 2001 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 29 Aug 2002 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 04 Oct 2002 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 16 Oct 2002 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 19 Feb 2003 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 29 Apr 2003 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 22 Jun 2003 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 01 Nov 2004 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 04 Apr 2005 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 12 Oct 2005 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 07 Nov 2007 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 09 Nov 2007 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 14 Mar 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 07 May 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 18 Jun 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 23 Aug 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 04 Oct 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 16 Oct 2008 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 30 May 2009 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 17 Nov 2009 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 22 Nov 2009 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 04 Nov 2010 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 15 Jan 2011 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 03 Nov 2011 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 04 Nov 2011 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 14 Jan 2012 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 09 Mar 2012 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 06 Apr 2012 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Live 07 Nov 2016 version]
THUNDER ROAD [Greg Kihn's cover version]
THUNDER ROAD [Badly Drawn Boy's cover version]
THUNDER ROAD [Cowboy Junkies' cover version]
THUNDER ROAD [Kevin Rowland's cover version]

Page last updated: 01 Aug 2010