The Ghost of Tom Joad
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 1997, Volume 4, #1
Written by John Metzger
Inspired by John Steinbeck's 1939 masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, Bruce Springsteen created his own work of art with his latest release — The Ghost of Tom Joad. The album received little radio play due to the subdued nature of the songs. Too bad. It's Springsteen's best effort since Nebraska. Oddly enough, that too was an acoustic outing for Springsteen, which received little radio attention.
In comparison to The Ghost of Tom Joad, Nebraska was a rousing rock 'n' roll album. It's only on occasion that Springsteen is accompanied by a band, and even then the supporting musicians are as he. Regardless, the style fits the folk-y songs quite well.
The lyrics are suitably depressing, and Springsteen essentially adapted Steinbeck's novel to fit with the current age of poor immigrants and Vietnam veterans trying to make a living in America. Indeed, Springsteen drives home the true meaning of Born in the U.S.A., which was swiped by the Republicans and horribly misinterpreted by the vast majority of the country. It's only fitting, then, that he has revamped and revitalized this song in his latest concert performances. As The Ghost of Tom Joad proves, he is a folk artist at heart.
The Ghost of Tom Joad is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1997 The Music Box