Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Ghost of Tom Joad

"One of the points I'm making in the book is that, whoever you've been and wherever you've been, it never leaves you," he said. "I always picture it as a car. All your selves are in it. And a new self can get in, but the old selves can't ever get out. The important thing is, who's got their hands on the wheel at an given moment."

- Bruce Springsteen, discussing his new autobiography in an article found here.


I just found the above quote yesterday, and it so resonated with me, that I thought I'd share it here. Bruce Springsteen, an American treasure, has an autobiography being released this month. I was really surprised to learn (from the article linked) that he's had a life-long battle with chronic depression. I'm not going into my own personal history, but, let's just say that I've never really trusted anybody who claims they never get depressed.

If you've never been blue then you've never been human.

Then again, there's the argument that chronic depression is really an expression of suppressed, thwarted rage. Could be.

In any case, while I'm not back to normal posting as of yet, I just wanted put in a few words... and keep my hands on the wheel.

Thanks, Bruce.

Above is Springsteen performing his modern classic The Ghost of Tom Joad featuring the incomparable Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. Full lyrics to the song can be found after the jump...

The Ghost of Tom Joad

"Men walking 'long the railroad tracks
Going someplace, there's no going back
Highway patrol choppers coming up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretching 'round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest
No home, no job, no peace, no rest

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Searching for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and he takes a drag
Waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
You got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathing in the city's aqueduct


Well the highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said, "Mom, wherever there's a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I'll be there

Wherever somebody's fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody's struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you'll see me"

The highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad"

- 1995, Bruce Springsteen

I've uploaded the previous tunes (originally on the sidebar) that appeared along with this post... notably the last 2 which are referred to in the comment section:


  1. Just crank up the radio and drive!

    1. Oh, yes. It'd be good on a long open road. A lot of old stuff is good on an open road. I once had the good fortune to turn on the radio in the midst of a long road trip and Hendrix's Voodoo Child came on. Rolling thunder!

      "If I'll see you no more in this world
      I'll meet ya on the next one
      Don't be late"

    2. Oh, wait a minute, STOP THE PRESS!
      You know, was kind of bummed because I couldn't find the perfect video for Voodoo Child... and then I found a couple of excellent covers... by 2 woman guitarists!

      You just know I love this sort of thing, BG, so I'm putting them both up on the sidebar. The first is an Australian named Orianthi. The second is a UK girl, Chantel McGregor.

  2. Replies
    1. They surely do. I kind of wish their voices were as powerful as their chops, but, apart from that, it's really good to see young women working to erase gender stereotypes. In terms of guitarists, not too many have... although, point in fact, the first actual "rock" guitarist was a lady! :-)

  3. Here's to keeping hands on the wheel - great quote. :)

    1. Thanks, TB!

      I was never a rabid Springsteen fan, but when I read a little more about his childhood background - which is very similar to my own - and I understood a little bit more about where he was coming from, I felt a deeper appreciation for the man's work and his success.

      As for keeping ones hands on the wheel... yeah... As a visual artist I tend to go into automatic pilot mode... which is an excellent tactic for creativity, but pretty much sucks for everything else.

      Besides which, keeping your hands on the wheel beats living under a bridge, right? ;-)