“Men walkin’ ‘long the railroad tracks
goin’ someplace there’s no goin’ back
highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge
hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
welcome to the new world order
families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
no home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
but nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
waitin’ for when the last shall be first
and the first shall be last
in a cardboard box ‘neath the underpass
got a one-way ticket to the promised land
you got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
bathin’ in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
but where it’s headed everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
waitin’ on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said – Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood
and hatred in the air
look for me, Mom, I’ll be there
wherever there’s somebody
fightin’ for a place to stand
or decent job or a helpin’ hand
wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me -.

The highway is alive tonight
but nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ downhere in the campfire light
with the ghost of old Tom Joad”.



“Uomini che camminano lungo i binari della ferrovia
diretti da qualche parte dove non c’è ritorno
elicotteri della stradale spuntano dalla collina
una zuppa bollente sul fuoco sotto un ponte
la fila per un ricovero che fa il giro all’angolo
benvenuti nel sistema del nuovo mondo
famiglie che dormono nelle loro macchine nel Sud-Ovest
niente casa, niente lavoro, niente pace, niente riposo

L’autostrada è viva questa notte
ma nessuno si prende in giro su dove vada a finire
io sono seduto qui accanto alla luce del fuoco
in cerca del fantasma di Tom Joad

Un prete prende un libro di preghiere
da sotto il suo sacco a pelo
si accende una sigaretta e fa un tiro
aspettando il giorno in cui l’ultimo sarà il primo
e il primo sarà l’ultimo
in una scatola di cartone nel sottopasso
trovi un biglietto di sola andata per la Terra Promessa
hai un buco nella pancia e una pistola nella tua mano
dormendo su un cuscino di dura roccia
e lavandosi nell’acquedotto della città

L’autostrada è viva questa notte
e dove va a finire tutti lo sanno
io sono seduto qui accanto alla luce del fuoco
ad aspettare il fantasma di Tom Joad

Ora, Tom diceva: – Mamma, ovunque ci sia
un poliziotto che picchia un ragazzo
ovunque un neonato pianga per la fame
ovunque ci sia una battaglia
contro il sangue e l’odio nell’aria
cercami mamma, io sarò là
ovunque ci siano uomini
che lottano per un posto dove stare
o per un lavoro decente
o per una mano che li aiuti
ovunque ci sia gente
che sta lottando per essere libera
guarda nei loro occhi, Mamma, e tu vedrai me -.

L’autostrada è viva questa notte
ma nessuno si prende in giro su dove vada a finire
io sono seduto qui accanto alla luce del fuoco
insieme al fantasma del vecchio Tom Joad”.


Bruce Springsteen, The ghost of Tom Joad – 4:27
(Bruce Springsteen)
Album: The ghost of Tom Joad (1995)

Per altri testi, traduzioni e commenti, guarda la discografia completa di Bruce Springsteen.

Per segnalare errori su testi o traduzioni, o semplicemente per suggerimenti, richieste d’aiuto e qualunque altra curiosità, potete scriverci all’indirizzo [email protected].



The Ghost of Tom Joad is a folk rock song written by Bruce Springsteen. It is the title track to his eleventh studio album, released in 1995. The character Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck‘s classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, is mentioned in the title and narrative. Originally a quiet folk song, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” has also been recorded by Rage Against the Machine. Springsteen himself has performed the song in a variety of arrangements, including with the E Street Band, and a live recording featuring Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello as guest. In 2013, Springsteen subsequently re-recorded the track with Morello for his eighteenth studio album, High Hopes (2014).
Besides The Grapes of Wrath, the song also takes inspiration from “The Ballad of Tom Joad” by Woody Guthrie, which in turn was inspired by John Ford‘s film adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel. Springsteen had in fact read the book, watched the film, and listened to the song, before writing “The Ghost of Tom Joad“, and the result was viewed as being true to Guthrie’s tradition. Springsteen identified with 1930s-style social activism, and sought to give voice to the invisible and unheard, the destitute and the disenfranchised. His use of characterization was similarly influenced by Steinbeck and Ford. However, like the rest of the album, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is set in the early-to-mid-1990s, with contemporary times being likened to Dust Bowl images:

Men walkin’ ‘long the railroad tracks,
Goin’ someplace, there’s no goin’ back.
Highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge —
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge.

President George H. W. Bush‘s New world order gains ironic mention, as is the contemporary demographic migration to the Southwest United States. The chorus makes clear the titular allusion:

The highway is alive tonight —
But where it’s headed, everybody knows.
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Waitin’ on the ghost of Tom Joad.

The third verse is the most direct link to The Grapes of Wrath, being an extensive paraphrase of Tom Joad’s famous “Wherever there’s a …” speech. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was originally recorded as an E Street Band number, intended for inclusion as one of the new tracks on his February 1995 Greatest Hits album. However, Springsteen did not like the arrangement, and he put the song aside for his next project. The released “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was recorded between April and June 1995, at Springsteen’s Los Angeles home studio. It was recorded with a light and muted accompaniment, featuring Springsteen on guitar and harmonica, E Street Band members Danny Federici on keyboards and Garry Tallent on bass, and session musicians Marty Rifkin on pedal steel guitar and dobro and Gary Mallaber on drums. Springsteen’s vocal phrasing tends to fade off at the end of each line of the song. Springsteen’s recording was released with the album on November 21, 1995. It was given limited release as a single in The Netherlands and the UK, wherein the latter it reached number 26 on the UK Singles Chart. It was not released as a single in the U.S., and radio airplay on album-oriented rock stations was practically non-existent. A non-representational music video was made of “The Ghost of Tom Joad“. It featured a black-and-white photo montage constrained to a subsection of the screen resembling a rear-view mirror. Depressed U.S. Route 66-area American scenes were featured; though set in the 1990s, many could have passed for the 1930s. Occasionally a line from the song would flash on the screen.
The song opened most of the shows on the 1995–1997 solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, and gave audience members a clear indication as to what the night would be like. (For a few shows before and after a September 1996 Woody Guthrie-oriented benefit concert, he played “Tom Joad” instead). On February 26, 1997, while the tour was still going on, he performed “The Ghost of Tom Joad” at the Grammy Awards of 1997, where the album won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. This and “Youngstown” are the only songs from The Ghost of Tom Joad album that have continued to have a significant presence in Springsteen’s concert repertoire. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was featured during the 1999–2000 E Street Band Reunion Tour, in arrangement fairly close to the album’s, albeit with Federici often playing accordion and Tallent on stand-up bass. In the U.S., the large arena audiences frequently treated the song’s appearance as the signal for a bathroom or beer run. The song became an infrequent appearer after that, perhaps surprisingly only showing twice on the 2005 solo Devils & Dust Tour.
The song made several appearances on Springsteen’s 2006 “big folk” Sessions Band Tour, in a new arrangement that featured member Frank Bruno handling some of the vocals, and two extended instrumental passages that saw soaring interplay between violin, pedal steel guitar, trumpet, and harmonica. One such rendition was captured on the subsequent Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band: Live in Dublin album as a bonus track for PBS begathon pledgers, and was also included as the lead track of the 2007 World Hunger Year/Hard Rock Café benefit album Serve2. A live version of the song from the 2008 third leg of Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Magic Tour featured Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello singing a verse and joining Springsteen on the choruses, and playing two long guitar solos using sounds not otherwise found in the E Street Band palette. This performance was subsequently included on the 2008 Springsteen EP Magic Tour Highlights in audio and video manifestations. Springsteen and Morello performed this song in acoustic fashion near the end of Pete Seeger‘s 90th Birthday Concert at Madison Square Garden on May 3, 2009. The video was broadcast on public television later in that year. Later in 2009, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert held at Madison Square Garden, Springsteen, the E Street Band, and Morello reprised their full-tilt electric rendition of the song. Highlighting the song’s political import, Springsteen included it in the “Change Rocks” acoustic performances he made at rallies in early October 2008 on behalf of Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign. The next year, Springsteen re-recorded the song, at his New Jersey home and accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar and harmonica, for the November 2009 documentary The People Speak. When Morello replaced Steven Van Zandt for the Australian leg of the Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Wrecking Ball Tour in March 2013, the song was a highlighted number in the shows. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was re-recorded yet again by Springsteen during that Australian leg, with Morello on guitar and vocals, and is featured on Springsteen’s 2014 collection of reworkings and outtakes, High Hopes“.

(Wikipedia, voce The Ghost of Tom Joad (song))


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