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

Lyrics submitted by me109cito

The Ghost of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen cover) song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment Tom Joad is a character from The Grapes of Wrath (a great book about the Great Depression.) The book focuses on "man's inhumanity to man" and police brutality. Tom Joad ends up killing a cop after the cop kills his friend (the preacher who was waiting for the last to be first....)
    This is a really eye-opening song.
    ringoon January 06, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentrage fucked this song up. they changed the whole feel of it.
    it was orriginally a sad song. and they filled it with anger. the anger in bruce's version was subtle. not screaming and breaking things.

    dont get me wrong, i love rage, but they didnt do the original justice here.

    the original is so much better
    Jipon June 10, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlso, this song was originally written by Bruce Springsteen and was released in 1995 on the album by the same name.
    Mermaidtreeon April 10, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe part about "wherever there's a cop beatin a guy..." and that whole thing is taken from the most famous passage in The Grapes of Wrath, where before Tom leaves his family, he tells ma that no matter where he is, he'll always be where injustice is in spirit. All throughout The Grapes of Wrath, they talk about a silent army that no one knows about, the revolution that is ahead of them because of the injustices that are being served towards the Okies...and Tom saying this speech shows that he understands and realizes what is to come...and he promises that he or someone like him will always be there to resist this kind of oppression.
    sKaDforLiFeon May 15, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMan, I feel like an idiot. I thought this was called "The Ghost of Tom Jones..." like the guy who sings those crappy lounge songs. So...after Tom Jones dies the whole world goes to shit, cuz he was such a happy guy who kept humanity in check. Honestly, I don't know if he's even dead, nor even care.
    Possum the Cougaron November 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah this is a remake of a Springsteen song. This might be the best cover I've ever heard.
    Rhysafion July 13, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a good song, lyrics really stick in your head.
    Esenthielon April 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have to disagree, I love this song better. Lyrics never leave your head, I love it! I must go out and check this book out.
    DuTcHoVeNon January 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a scary song now and I like it better than the original. It makes you feel the angst of the poor man in the song. I really think this song is about the ultimate failure of such thinking. Granted these thoughts of mine might be lies, but I am a nihilist in this regard. There will always be power in this world no matter what the next revolution will be called. Those leaders will be installed and they will oppress the people who liked the old leaders. I am reminded of a sappy tune by Bruce Hornsby: that's just the way it is, some things will never change. Even Jesus Christ said, the poor shall always be with you. With those thoughts, why do we hold onto hope. Without hope, we can't cope therefore we die early. The only thing worth living for is just living.
    OpinionHeadon February 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like both versions of the song...Springsteen's is more sad and as Jip said more 'subtle', while Rage's is more...anger. How can the story of a man from a book called The Grapes of WRATH not be about anger? For anyone who has seen the movie or read the book knows that it deals a lot with the anger of the migrant people. First, the tenant farmers in Oklahoma are booted off their lands. They are forced to leave their homes and find work to support their families. The people suffer from homelessness, starvation, discrimination, and brutality. How could you not be angry about this? It's both sad and anger. Also in the book, there's many interchapters where Steinbeck rants about the anger of the people towards banks, police, etc.
    Like sKaDforLiFe said, the last verse in the song is nearly the same as in the book, in Chapter 28 - when Tom is talking to Ma: "I'll be all aroun' in the dark, I'll be ever'where- wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'- I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build- why I'll be there."
    If you haven't read the book, I suggest reading it. Also watch the movie. If you're not much of a reader you could always look at for summaries and stuff. Peace.
    blind_rockstaron March 24, 2005   Link

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