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The Ghost of Tom Joad

The Ghost of Tom Joad
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released November 21, 1995
Recorded March–September 1995
Thrill Hill Recording
Genre Folk, folk rock
Length 50:16
Label Columbia
Producer Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Plotkin
Bruce Springsteen chronology
Greatest Hits
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Blood Brothers
Singles from The Ghost of Tom Joad
  1. "The Ghost of Tom Joad"
    Released: November 21, 1995
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B–[2]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[3]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[4]

The Ghost of Tom Joad is the eleventh studio album, and the second acoustic album released by American recording artist Bruce Springsteen. The album was released on November 21, 1995, through Columbia Records. The album was recorded and mixed at Thrill Hill West, Springsteen's home studio in Los Angeles, CA.

Following the 1995 studio reunion with the E Street Band and the release of Greatest Hits, Springsteen's writing activity increased significantly. He wrote and recorded the album between March and September 1995. The album consists of 7 solo tracks and 5 band tracks.

The Ghost of Tom Joad debuted at number 11 on the US Billboard 200 chart, with 107,000 copies sold in its first-week.[5] The album won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.


  • Reception and composition 1
  • Track listing 2
  • Unreleased outtakes 3
  • Personnel 4
  • Charts 5
  • References 6

Reception and composition

The Ghost of Tom Joad received mostly favorable reviews. Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone called it "Springsteen's best album in ten years," and considered it "among the bravest work that anyone has given us this decade."[4] However, it reached only number 11 on the Billboard 200, breaking a string of eight consecutive Top 5 studio albums in the U.S for Springsteen.[6]

The album is mainly backed by acoustic guitar work and the lyrics on many of the tracks are a somber reflection of life in the mid-1990s in America and Mexico.[7] The character of Tom Joad entered the American consciousness in John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, set against the economic hardships of the Great Depression.[7] This spawned a film version starring Henry Fonda, which in turn inspired folk singer Woody Guthrie to pen "The Ballad of Tom Joad".[7]

The album's release was followed by Springsteen's solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, which ran from 1995–1997 and consisted of mostly small venues.[7]

Track listing

All songs were written by Bruce Springsteen.

No. Title Length
1. "The Ghost of Tom Joad"   4:27
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

Unreleased outtakes

Twelve of the twenty-two songs recorded during the album's sessions made the album's final cut while "Dead Man Walkin'" was released on the soundtrack for the movie Dead Man Walking and later on The Essential Bruce Springsteen and "Brothers Under the Bridge" was released on Tracks. "I'm Turning Into Elvis" and "It's the Little Things That Count" remain unreleased however were performed live while "Idiot's Delight" and "I'm Not Sleeping" were also performed live and along with "1945" and "Cheap Motel" were co-written with Joe Grushecky who would recorded the four songs on his 1997 album, Coming Home.[8]

  • Cynthia
  • Tiger Rose
  • I'm Turning Into Elvis
  • It's the Little Things That Count
  • Idiot's Delight
  • I'm Not Sleeping
  • 1945
  • Cheap Motel


  • Bruce Springsteen – guitar, keyboards, harmonica, vocals, producer
  • Danny Federici – accordion, keyboards
  • Gary Mallaber – drums
  • Garry Tallent – bass
  • Jim Hanson – bass
  • Marty Rifkin - pedal steel guitar
  • Soozie Tyrell – violin, background vocals
  • Lisa Lowell - background vocals
  • Patti Scialfa – background vocals
  • Toby Scott – engineer
  • Greg Goldman – recording assistant
  • Terry Magovern – research
  • Sandra Choron – art direction
  • Eric Dinyer – cover art
  • Pam Springsteen – interior photographs


Chart (1995) Peak
US Billboard 200[9] 11


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  4. ^ a b
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  7. ^ a b c d Symynkywicz, Jeffery B. (2008). The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption, from Asbury Park to Magic. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-23169-1. p. 122.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Bruce Springsteen – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Bruce Springsteen. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
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