Johnny works in a factory
Billy works downtown
Terry works in a rock and roll band
Looking for that million dollar sound

I got a job down in Darlington
Some nights I don't go
Some nights I go to the drive-in
Some nights I stay home

I followed that dream
Just like those guys do way up on the screen
Drove my Challenger down Route 9
Through the dead ends and all the bad scenes
The promise was broken
Cashed in a few of my dreams

Well I built that Challenger by myself
But I needed money and so I sold it
Lived a secret I should've kept to myself
But I got drunk one night and I told it

All my life, I fought that fight
The fight that you can't win
Every day it just gets harder to live
The dream you're believing in

Thunder Road, baby, you were so right
Thunder Road, something dying down on the highway tonight

Well I won big once and I hit the coast
Yeah, but I paid the cost
Inside I felt like I was carrying the broken spirits
Of all the other ones who lost

The promise is broken, you go on living
It steals something from down in your soul
When the truth is spoken, it don't make no difference
Something in your heart goes cold

I followed that dream through the southwestern tracks
That dead ends in the two-bit bars
The promise was broken, I was far away from home
Sleeping in the back seat of a borrowed car

Thunder Road is for the lost lovers and all the fixed games
Thunder Road is for the tires rushing by in the rain
Thunder Road me and Billy we'd always sing
Thunder Road, take it all and throw it all away

Lyrics submitted by oofus

"The Promise" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Promise song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThis is probably the best song I've ever heard.

    As desquire1962 says, for Bruce, the song is about that time after Born to Run, when it looked like all his dreams were coming crashing down because of a broken promise. For the rest of us, it's about all those other promises that get broken by you or someone else. The promises we make with a guy/girl, the promises we make with our families and friends and the promises we make with ourselves.

    "Like when the truth is spoken and it don't make no difference
    Something in your heart goes cold"

    These lines kill me. Ever told someone you love them, expecting it to change everything but they don't love you back? Ever told your friends/family about the hard time your having and they can't do anything to help you out of the mess you've gotten yourself in? Ever faced up to something about yourself that's been coming at you ever since you were born, only to find you can't do a damn thing to change it? It turns something cold inside and you don't know if you're toughening up or giving up.

    I guess for me what this song means is, you can spend your whole life making promises, chasing dreams and trying to do what's you. You can tell yourself when you're a kid that you're the hardest thing in the world - nothing is going to beat you, you're going to win everything and just throw it away in some wild and triumphant expression of freedom. But life has got its chains and not everyone breaks free from them. Hearts get broken, dreams get swept away and second chances don't always come around. As Bruce sings in Atlantic City "Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line."

    To end on a positive note, from This Hard Land: "If you can't make it stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive - if you can."
    Nikko86on December 26, 2011   Link

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