Live 18 Jun 2008 version

[Tom Brokaw:] [...] The only sad part about this appearance is, this is the one guest that Tim was never able to persuade to appear on Meet The Press. But they were great friends, and Tim went wherever he had to to hear him. Ladies and Gentlemen, from Europe, where he is on tour, the Boss.

[Spoken intro:] Luke and Maureen, Big Russ, and the Russert family, we wanna send all our love and prayers from the E Street Band, and, uh, share with you a memory I had of Tim. Was, uh, early in the morning, we were playing on the Today Show, which is a little early for rock musicians, and, uh, we went into Promised Land and I did what I usually do, I was looking in the faces along the front row to see who was... I always look for that face that's being enlivened or filled with the music that we're playing, and as I scanned the front row, I got to the left side of the stage and there was a guy in a crisp white shirt and a tie, and I looked, and it was Tim. He had on that big Irish smile that, uh, hid absolutely nothing [chuckles], and it was beaming like the rising sun [chuckles]. And I remember thinking, oh my god, that's, that's Tim Russert at this hour of the morning, and, uh, I knew that given his day job, he, he had more important things to do, so, uh, we were always flattered and honored to have Tim as part of our E Street Band community. And, uh, it's funny that we were playing that song, I think Tim had a real belief in that Promised Land, and in the American idea, and that was the passion that you heard behind all those tough questions on Sunday morning and, and in that big smile. Um, he also believed, I think, in the, in the honesty of service, the joyful duty of honesty of service [chuckles]. That's his legacy, for politicians, uh, journalists, and rock musicians too. So, wanna send this out to, to Tim. Luke, this is for your pop.

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
Just can't face myself alone again
Well, don't you run back inside
Darling, you know just what I'm here for
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 all right

Oh, and that's all right with me

You could 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
Well, I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer is 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 busted 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 track
Whoa, oh, come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Whoa, oh, oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road, Thunder Road
Yeah, it's lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it's late, but we can make it if we run
Whoa, oh, oh, Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my bags are packed if you're ready to take that 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, there's 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 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
It's a town full of losers and we're pulling out of here to win

[Spoken outro:] Tim, all our love, god bless, we're gonna miss you.

Page last updated: 26 Sep 2010


The above lyrics are for the live 18 Jun 2008 performance of THUNDER ROAD which Springsteen performed at the memorial service for Tim Russert. He was on tour in Europe and his appearance was via satellite from The Netherlands. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Tim Russert and Springsteen

Tim Russert has been a Springsteen fan since very early in Springsteen's career. Russert was booking concerts for his undergraduate institution John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH, and after hearing Springsteen's music on the Kid Leo show on WMMS, he booked him for $2,500 in February 1975. The concert was originally scheduled for 27 February, but was moved forward to 18 February due to a conflict with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band's studio recording sessions at The Record Plant. Russert later told Springsteen in 1981 that he made enough money form the John Carroll University concert to pay for his second year of law school.

Promotional poster for the 18 Feb 1975 show at John Carroll University, Cleveland, OH

In 2008, Time magazine named Russert, along with Bruce Springsteen, one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Tim Russert was widely known in the US as the host of NBC's Meet The Press. When asked who who'd like to book the most for his show, he answered Bruce Springsteen. "I'm very intrigued by him," Russert said. "He has a real understanding of political dialogue, of faith and life in urban America."

Russert died suddenly on 13 Jun 2008 from a heart attack while he was at work. News reached Springsteen when he was on tour in Europe, and he dedicated THUNDER ROAD to the late Russert on 14 Jun 2008 at his concert in Cardiff, England. Introducing the song, he told the crowd: "I'd like to do this tonight for a long friend of the E Street Band who passed away suddenly. Tim Russert was an important, irreplaceable voice in American journalism. I watched him hold our politicians' feet to the fire on many Sunday mornings. He was always a strong voice for honesty and accountability in American Government, but beyond that he was a lovely presence, a good father, husband and goo guy. He was a regular at many E Street Band shows, and I'm going to miss looking down and seeing that big smiling face in the crowd. We send this out all the way back to the States tonight for his son Luke, his wife Maureen, his dad Big Russ, and all the Russert Family. Tim, God Bless you, we will miss you."

A televised memorial service for Tim Russert was held on 18 Jun 2008 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Russert's brother-in-law Tony Scozzaro performed an acoustic instrumental version of BORN TO RUN. At the end of the service, Tom Brokaw announced one final eulogist: Bruce Springsteen (read Brokaw's intro above). He was on tour in Europe, in The Netherlands in particular, and he made his appearance at the memorial service via satellite. He offered a few word to the Russert family (read Springsteen's spoken part above) and performed an acoustic rendition of THUNDER ROAD.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce snapshot]

Available Versions

List of available versions of THUNDER ROAD on this website:

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Some of the above is taken from the Spring 2010 issue of Backstreets magazine.