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Released: February 28, 1995

Rating: 3.545 (average of 15 ratings)

Genre: heartland rock

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. The Ghost of Tom Joad [4:23]
  2. Straight Time [3:25]
  3. Highway 29 [3:39]
  4. Youngstown [3:52]
  5. Sinaloa Cowboys [3:51]
  6. The Line [5:14]
  7. Balboa Park [3:19]
  8. Dry Lightning [3:30]
  9. The New Timer [5:45]
  10. Across the Border [5:24]
  11. Galveston Bay [5:04]
  12. My Best Was Never Good Enough [2:00]
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.

Total Running Time: 49:26


sales in U.S. only 640,000
sales in U.K. only - estimated 100,000
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. 1 million
sales worldwide - estimated 3 million


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 11
peak on U.K. album chart 16

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • The Ghost of Tom Joad (5/4/96) #26 UK

The Ghost of Tom Joad
Bruce Springsteen
“In 1982, with Ronald Reagan in the White House and much of America torn between a newly fierce patriotism and the dispassionate conservatism of the dawning ‘Greed Is Good’ era, a number of roots-oriented rock musicians began examining the State of the Union in song, and one of the most powerful albums to come out of this movement was Bruce Springsteen's stark, home-recorded masterpiece Nebraska. In 1995, Bill Clinton was president, America was congratulating itself for a new era of high-tech peace and prosperity, and Springsteen returned to the themes and approach of Nebraska with The Ghost of Tom Joad, an album that suggested little had changed in the past thirteen years – except Americans had gotten better at ignoring the increasingly sharp divide between the rich and the poor, and that illegal aliens who had come to America looking for the fabled land of Milk and Honey were being forced to shoulder a heavy and dangerous burden in America's underground economy. With several of its songs drawn directly from news stories, The Ghost of Tom Joad is more explicitly political than Nebraska (more so than anything in Springsteen's catalog, for that matter), and while the arrangements are more full-bodied than those on Nebraska (five cuts feature a full band), the production and the overall tone is, if anything, even starker and more low-key, with the lyrics all the more powerful for their spare backdrops. While there's an undertow of bitterness in this album's tales of an America that has turned its back on the working class and the foreign-born, there's also a tremendous compassion in songs like The Line, Sinaloa Cowboys, Balboa Park, and the title cut, which lend their subjects a dignity fate failed to give them. Individually, these songs, either angry or plaintive, are clean and expertly drawn tales of life along this nation's margins, and their cumulative effect is nothing short of heart-breaking; anyone who pegged Springsteen as a zealously patriotic conservative in the wake of the widely misunderstood Born in the U.S.A. needs to hear this disc. The Ghost of Tom Joad failed to find the same audience (or the same wealth of media attention) that embraced Nebraska, but on it's own terms it's a striking and powerful album, and certainly one of Springsteen's most deeply personal works” (Deming).

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Related DMDB Links:

Previous Album: Greatest Hits (compilation: 1975-95) Bruce Springsteen’s DMDB page Next Album: The Rising (2002)

Last updated March 29, 2008.