Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' some place, there's no goin' back
The Highway Patrol chopper's 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 out 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 a 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 a gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
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, whenever 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 a decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Lyrics submitted by idiotic, edited by Hesti

The Ghost Of Tom Joad song meanings
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  • +8
    My InterpretationThere's a lot of stupid comments on this song. "grapes of wrath is all this song is about": no, why would he mention "families sleeping in cars in the southwest?" and the "Ghost" of Tom Joad. this song is set in the 1990s. He even references George H.W. Bush's 1990 speech (not the conspiracy theory), which said:

    "Until now, the world we’ve known has been a world divided — a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and cold war. Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a 'world order' in which 'the principles of justice and fair play ... protect the weak against the strong ...' "

    Springsteen is clearly ironically quoting Bush's speech. Bush said the "new world" wouldn't be divided, and would have justice for the weak. Obviously, five years later this didn't happen and probably never will in America.

    This is one of my favorite songs. As soon as I hear that opening harmonica I get chills. There's really something magical about this recording. It's a sad but beautiful commentary on the inequalities of life, 60 years after Guthrie wrote "The Ballad of Tom Joad". His ghost haunts us everyday, but still gives us hope for a better world. More so now than even in the 90s, with so many people losing their homes.
    chrliestlon October 28, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWow, what a powerful song.
    myleswiggylooon April 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Wherever somebodies fightin for a place to stand
    For a decent job or a helpin' hand
    Wherever somebody is strugglin' to be free"

    The song is clearly about more than just trying to get money. He talks about cops beating guys and blood and hatred in the air. Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but the song seems to be about something deeper. And yes, I do like the Rage version.
    wadleron August 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn the book, jim casey and tom joad preach how the poor need to unite and become one soul to beat the faceless rich...BS is basically saying the same thing...The poor are being mistreated and that everyone should be treated as one soul
    bceagles11392on September 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe RATM version may be one of the best covers ever. I agree that this song is about how badly the American people have treated their downtrodden and underpriveleged. I think this should the church of liberalism's main anthem, it's that good of a song. Bruce Springsteen really did well when he wrote this.
    OpinionHeadon November 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful song. If you guys haven't heard it, you really need to listen to the live version that has Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (who made their own version of the song) playing with Bruce and the band.
    Hell, I'll just post the Youtube link:…
    It's a brilliant performance, you guys should check it out.
    maill112on March 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is also in honor of Woody Guthrie, who wrote a song called Tom Joad. Guthrie was a pioneer of musicians writing and fighting for the rights of the poor and downtrodden, and a hero of the Boss.
    TheSeattleSainton August 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthere's a great cover by junip. check it out
    DocDaneekaon January 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    TranslationWaitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last - what does this line mean??
    ssahaisaurabhon August 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSong is taken from the book "The Grapes of Wrath.'
    About being a loner hobo, homeless, drifting across America looking for the American Dream.
    DaphneMon November 27, 2012   Link

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