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

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