Live 29 Sep 1996 version
Tom Joad he got out the old McAlester Pen, there he got his parole
After four long years on a man killing charge Tom Joad come walking down the road, poor boy
Tom Joad come walking down the road
Tom Joad he met a truck driving man and there he caught him a ride
He said, "I just got loose from the McAlester Pen on a charge called homicide
A charge called homicide"
Well that truck rolled away in a cloud of dust, Tommy turned his face toward home
He met Preacher Casey and they had a little drink but they found that his family they was gone
He found that his family they was gone
He found his mother's old fashion shoe and he found his daddy's hat
And he found little Muley and Muley said, "They've been tractored out by the cats, Tommy boy
They've been tractored out by the cats"
Tom Joad he walked down to the neighbor's farm and he found his family
They took Preacher Casey and they loaded in a car and his mother said, "We've got to get away, Tommy boy"
His mother said, "We've got to get away"
Now the twelve of the Joads they made a mighty heavy load, Grandpa Joad he did cry
He picked up a handful of land in his hand, he said, "I'm staying with this farm till I die
I'm staying here Tommy till I die"
They fed him short ribs and coffee and syrup, and Grandpa Joad he did die
They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road, buried Grandma on the California side
They buried Grandma on the California side
They stood on a mountain and they looked to the west and it looked like the promised land
That bright green valley with a river running through, there was work for every single hand they thought
There'd be work for every single hand
The Joads rolled away to the jungle camp and there they cooked them a stew
And the hungry little kids of the jungle camp said, "We'd like to have some too, please
Yeah we'd like to have some too"
Now a deputy sheriff fired loose at a man and he shot a woman in the back
Before he could take his aim again, Preacher Casey dropped him in his tracks
Preacher Casey dropped him in his tracks
Well they handcuffed Casey and they took him to jail, and then he got away
And he met Tom Joad on the old river bridge and these few words he did say, poor boy
These few words he did say
"Well I preached for the Lord a mighty long time, preached about the rich and the poor
Us working folks we got to get together 'cause we ain't got a chance anymore, Tommy boy
We ain't got a chance anymore"
Well the deputies come, Tom and Casey they did run to the bridge where the water run down
But the vigilante they hit Casey with a club and they laid Preacher Casey on the ground
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground
Tom Joad he grabbed that deputy's club and he hit him over the head
Tom Joad took flight in the dark and rainy night, a deputy and a preacher lying dead
A deputy and a preacher lying dead
Well Tom run back to where his mother was asleep and he woke her up out of bed
And he kissed goodbye to the mother that he loved and he said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad
He said what Preacher Casey said
"Well everybody might be just one big soul, well it looks that way to me
Everywhere you look, in the day or the night, that's where I'm gonna be, Ma
That's where I'm gonna be"
"Wherever little children are hungry and cry, wherever people ain't free
Wherever men and women are fighting for their rights, that's where I'm gonna be, Ma
That's where I'm gonna be"
The above lyrics are for the live 29 Sep 1996 performance of TOM JOAD at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH, during a Woody Guthrie tribute concert. The song was the opener of Bruce Springsteen's set. It was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica.
In September 1996 Cleveland's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum and Case Western Reserve University cohosted "Hard Travelin': The Life And Legacy Of Woody Guthrie", a 10-day conference of panel sessions, lectures, and concerts to remember, honor, and celebrate the songs of Woody Guthrie. The conference became the first in what would become the museum's annual American Music Masters Series conference.
The conference concluded on 29 Sep 1996 with an all-star tribute concert at Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH. Billed "Hard Travelin': A Benefit Concert", the Sunday night concert was a collaboration between the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum and the Woody Guthrie Archives. It was hosted by Tim Robbins and featured several performers who came to pay tribute to Woody Guthrie, including Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, and David Priner.
The first six songs feature Springsteen solo or in the lead role while the last four songs feature Springsteen in a support/background role.
List of available versions of TOM JOAD on this website:TOM JOAD [Live 25 Sep 1996 version]