100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time
The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995
Springsteen's response to the economic devastation of the Reagan years came in the form of this tense portrait of an unemployed steelworker who sees the opportunities of his father dying away. The lyrics were inspired by the book Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass: "I put it down and I laid awake and I thought, 'What if somebody came and told me that the one thing I could do, well, that wasn't necessary anymore and how would I come home at night and face my family?'" The arrangement, featuring pedal steel guitarist Marty Rifkin and Soozie Tyrell's haunting violin, is as intensely brooding as Springsteen's lyrics.
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