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Ghost of Tom Joad
     

The Ghost of Tom Joad

4.0 1
by Bruce Springsteen
 

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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

Overview

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 13 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 heartbreaking; 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.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/21/1995
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0886977280825
catalogNumber:
772808
Rank:
953

Tracks

  1. The Ghost Of Tom Joad
  2. Straight Time
  3. Highway 29
  4. Youngstown
  5. Sinaloa Cowboys
  6. The Line
  7. Balboa Park
  8. Dry Lightning
  9. The New Timer
  10. Across The Border
  11. Galveston Bay
  12. My Best Was Never Good Enough

Album Credits

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The Ghost of Tom Joad 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Bruce Springsteen came up with some powerful story songs peopled with vets, border patrolmen, and unemployed drifters for this mid 90s album. If the music had matched the lyrics, it would have been a classic. Unfortunately, many of the songs sound the same, with only Bruce on guitar and muted keyboards. The Ghost Of Tom Joad and Youngstown have a small acoustic band on them and more melody. If I was compiling a Springsteen best of, they would be on it. The rest, despite its good intentions, is forgettable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't understand why this album hasn't found a wider audience. It's a hauntingly beautiful work, in my opinion more mature than Nebraska.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago