He rode the rails since the great depression
Fifty years out on the skids
He said you don't cross nobody
You'll be all right out here kid

Left my family in Pennsylvania
Searchin' for work I hit the road
I met Frank in east Texas
In a freight yard blown through with snow

From New Mexico to Colorado
California to the sea
Frank he showed me the ropes, sir
Just till I could get back on my feet

I hoed sugar beets outside of Firebaugh
I picked the peaches from the Marysville tree
They bunked us in a barn just like animals
Me and a hundred others just like me

We split up come the springtime
I never seen Frank again
'Cept one rainy night he blew by me on grainer
Shouted my name and disappeared in the rain and the wind

They found him shot dead outside Stockton
His body lyin' on a muddy hill
Nothin' taken, nothin' stolen
Somebody killed him just to kill

Late that summer I was rollin' through the plains of Texas
A vision passed before my eyes A small house sittin' trackside
With the glow of the saviours beautiful light

A woman stood cookin' in the kitchen
Kid sat at the table with his old man
Now I wonder does my son miss me
Does he wonder where I am

Tonight I pick my campsite carefully
Outside the Sacramento Yard
Gather some wood and light a fire
In the early winter dark

Wind whistling cold I pull my coat around me
Make some coffee and stare out into the black night
I lie awake, I lie awake sir
With my machete by my side

My Jesus your gracious love and mercy
Tonight I'm sorry could not fill my heart
Like one good rifle And the name of who I ought to kill

Lyrics submitted by oofus

The New Timer song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningHaving to leave your home to search for a job, which would help you carve out your place in the world, is a lonely but brave decision. In some ways, you sever your ties. That's not your intention. But, time and distance do sever, or at least weaken, ties.

    There's a certain kinship in the brotherhood you find in someone who is not of your own blood. That brotherhood is forged, not in the usual way where 'blood is thicker than water'. It is forged naturally, by being forced to count of the kindness of someone when you are down, and being there for someone when it is not necessarily convenient, but when you are needed the most.

    When there are two things you have in this world; the possibility of work and a true friend or partner, and that person is ripped from your existence, you find your dignity has been taken from you.

    When you've lost everything, it doesn't take much courage, but desperation, to deny God's graciousness and replace it with vengeance.
    StevenPascalion November 15, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother subtle link is found in this song, that stresses the influence of John Steinbeck's novel on "The Ghost of Tom Joad". In Steinbeck, the Joads also take a job 'picking peaches', just as this song's protagonist does.

    Like "Youngstown", this song is also inspired by Dale Maharidge's 1985 book "Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass".
    hberingson July 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know exactly why, but this is my favorite track off Tom Joad. It's so sad and lonely and for me the live described is so pointless, just about staying alive. There are a couple of lines that really hit me.

    First, the lines about Frank, who was found dead, "His body lyin' on a muddy hill / nothin' taken nothin' stolen / somebody killin' just to kill"

    Second, the lines where he thinks about his own son who he left behind: "Now I wonder does my son miss me / Does he wonder where I am"

    While other Springsteen songs, though sometimes very dark, always have some kind of hope or at least the possibility of hope, the person in this song has rezignation in his misfortune. Seems like the only reason he still lives is to find the one who killed Frank, but he hasn't even got his name.
    MartijnVeenendaalon January 20, 2013   Link

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