Original Woody Guthrie version
Tom Joad got out of the old McAlester Pen, there he got his parole
After four long years on a man killing charge Tom Joad come a-walking down the road, poor boy
Tom Joad come a-walking down the road
Tom Joad he met a truck driving man, there he caught him a ride
He said, "I just got loose from McAlester Pen on a charge called homicide
A charge called homicide"
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, found his daddy's hat
And he found little Muley and Muley said, "They've been tractored out by the cats
They've been tractored out by the cats"
Tom Joad walked down to the neighbor's farm, found his family
They took Preacher Casey and loaded in a car and his mother said, "We've got to get away"
His mother said, "We've got to get away"
Now the twelve of the Joads made a mighty heavy load but Grandpa Joad did cry
He picked up a handful of land in his hand, said, "I'm staying with the farm till I die
Yes I'm staying with the farm till I die"
They fed him short ribs and coffee and soothing syrup, and Grandpa Joad did die
They buried Grandpa Joad by the side of the road, 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 was work for every single hand
The Joads rolled away to the jungle camp, there they cooked a stew
And the hungry little kids of the jungle camp said, "We'd like to have some too"
Said, "We'd like to have some too"
Now a deputy sheriff fired loose at a man, shot a woman in the back
Before he could take his aim again, Preacher Casey dropped him in his track, poor boy
Preacher Casey dropped him in his track
They handcuffed Casey and they took him in 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
"I preached for the Lord a mighty long time, preached about the rich and the poor
Us working folkses all get together 'cause we ain't got a chance anymore
We ain't got a chance anymore"
Now the deputies come and Tom and Casey run to the bridge where the water run down
But the vigilante thugs hit Casey with a club, they laid Preacher Casey on the ground, poor Casey
They laid Preacher Casey on the ground
Tom Joad he grabbed that deputy's club, hit him over the head
Tom Joad took flight in the dark rainy night and a deputy and a preacher lying dead, two men
A deputy and a preacher lying dead
Tom run back where his mother was asleep, he woke her up out of bed
And he kissed goodbye to the mother that he loved, said what Preacher Casey said, Tom Joad
He said what Preacher Casey said
"Everybody might be just one big soul, well it looks that a-way to me
Everywhere that you look, in the day or night, that's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma
That's where I'm a-gonna be"
"Wherever little children are hungry and cry, wherever people ain't free
Wherever men are fighting for their rights, that's where I'm a-gonna be, Ma
That's where I'm a-gonna be"
TOM JOAD is a song written (words and music) by Woody Guthrie. It was recorded by Guthrie on 26 Apr 1940 as part of a recording session for RCA Victor. These recordings were originally released in 1940 on Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads Volume 1 (catalogue # P 27) and Dust Bowl Ballads Volume 2 (catalogue # P 28), each being a three-disc collection of 78 rpm records. TOM JOAD, which was divided into two parts ("Tom Joad-Part 1" and "Tom Joad-Part 2") was included on the first volume, sides E and F.
The above lyrics are for the original Woody Guthrie version of TOM JOAD (both parts) as released on Dust Bowl Ballads Volume 1 in 1940.
Bruce Springsteen's THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD takes inspiration from Woody Guthrie's TOM JOAD. Springsteen performed Guthrie's TOM JOAD live a few times in 1996 and 1997. See the live 25 Sep 1996 version for more details.
List of available versions of TOM JOAD on this website:TOM JOAD [Live 25 Sep 1996 version]