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Ghost of Tom Joad

4.2 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 21 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Canada Inc.
  • ASIN: B000002BFL
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,061 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. The Ghost Of Tom Joad
2. Straight Time
3. Highway 29
4. Youngstown
5. Sinaloa Cowboys
6. The Line
7. Balboa Park
8. Day Lightning
9. The New Timer
10. Across The Border
11. Galveston Bay
12. My Best Was Never Good Enough

Product Description

Bruce Springsteen followed his muse on this haunting 1995 release. Perhaps that's why it barely made a dent in the marketplace, even while it thrilled the faithful who were willing to take another dark, Nebraska-like journey with him. It's abundantly clear that Springsteen had been soaking himself in the work of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie during the writing of The Ghost of Tom Joad, but their combined influence is found on more than just the title track. It's all over these windblown songs (including the haunting "Dry Lightning" and "the seminal "Youngstown") and their hard-scrabble protagonists. Not the Boss's biggest record, but certainly one of his best. --Michael Ruby

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bruce Springsteen's a reliable rocker. His lyrics aren't always the best, and his voice could use a little touchup, but people love him anyway. Why? He sings about the common man. And he's talented as hell.
On "The Ghost of Tom Joad," Springsteen finds himself at his peak--even if he had to leave the rock arena to do it. Sure, his electric guitar-fueled rockers are superb (find one rocker who's had a more lasting impression on various generations, past and present, than the Boss; and if you say McCartney, I'm gonna hit you). However, these gentle (mostly) acoustic numbers are sublime--graceful folk/country songs that sound the bells for the downtrodden (and Springsteen's multi-instrumental talent).
"Straight Time," for example, deals with a former criminal who can't seem to live a decent life; "Highway 29", about a fateful Bonnie and Clyde couple; "Youngstown," about a factory worker who needs a reprieve; "The Line," about a border guard who falls in love with a refugee; "My Best Was Never Good Enough," a darkly humorous tune about a man who just can't win, no matter what advice he's been given; and several other songs, most about immigrants and their troubles.
Yeah, it's a little opressing at first. Springsteen can be that way, when he's writing from his soul. And the album never really picks up, tempo-wise. It's not something you're gonna party to; but if you want good quality music, that'll make you think about yourself and the world, and shine a better light on your relations with others, then "The Ghost of Tom Joad" is your album.
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Format: Audio CD
For those that entered the vast body of Springsteen's work through Born in the USA or Born to Run, this is going to be a shock to the system. Where on his most popular albums Boss engaged in fast cars and girls and other images of glory, on this (and the album it is sequel to, Nebraska) he strips it down to accoustic instruments and analyzes the darker side of America. These are stories of desparation, of crossing the border not into New York City (as on Born to Run) but into the promised land of the U.S from Mexico and finding only dead end jobs and tragedy and loneliness. The best part though is that Bruce's rough, ragged voice mirrors that loneliness and desparation, just barely raising it above a whisper. In all these stories, Bruce tells stories of people that anyone can relate to, because though their conditions are extreme, we all face the emotions these characters face. And clearly Bruce has faced them too, as he confronts each song with the right amount of articulate acting out.
The bottom line is this album is for all those adventerous Bruce Springsteen fans out there who loved Nebraska. It's also for everyone who loves accoustic music and the brave songwriters like Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Phil Ochs and all those others who took political chances in their music and sang without fierce screaming, but with soft, lonely, vocal tones. Its an essential and it will make you feel like your in the rough, lonely, world of a middle of nowhere working class town like Youngstown.
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Format: Audio CD
Bruce Springsteen's 1995 release "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" is almost always compared to his haunting 1982 masterpiece "Nebraska," and for obvious reasons; the form and mood of "Tom Joad" is the same as its predecessor--a bare minimum of instrumentation and the same desperate, gloomy, brilliant subject matter. But "Nebraska" had something this album doesn't--the former was spontaneous and unexpected, while "Tom Joad" was planned and anticipated. "Nebraska" was perhaps most effective because it followed the success of his mainstream hits like "Born To Run" and "The River," and its strictly vocal/acoustic/harmonica approach made it brilliantly different from Springsteen's previous chart-toppers. And that's where "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" fails; it simply cannot be viewed as genius as "Nebraska," because the public was ready for it, and already knew the power that the 1982 album spawned.
Aside from that, this album surely isn't a disappointment; it is stark, bold, and magnificently eerie, despite the slightly expanded instrumentation (at least when compared to the bare form of "Nebraska"). Outstanding compositions like the title track, 'Across the Border,' and 'My Best Was Never Good Enough' are all superb, while as a whole, the album holds up strongly as a testament to Springsteen's crusade for the downtrodden. Though it doesn't exceed "Nebraska," "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" is perfect for a sequel.
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Format: Audio CD
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Bruce Springsteen's music very much. Many of Bruce's other CD's are filled to the brim with passion and emotion. However, this Ghost of Tom Joad CD leaves me very cold.
There are twelve songs on this CD's and they all seem to move at the same lethargic pace. The bleak tone surely does not help. On many of them it is extremely difficult to make out what Bruce is singing or more appropriately, mumbling.
Worse yet are the songs themselves. Most if not all of these songs lack a good melody. Youngstown and the title track are the only ones which seem memorable after three listens. A few others catch me for a moment but then fade away due to an overly repetitive pattern and a strong lack of instrumental definition. The guitar playing is way too quiet that it barely adds any impression to the disc. The ocassional harmonica blasts are the only thing that keeps from dosing off from boredom.
It's not that I dislike it that Bruce decided to make another all acoustic recording. Whereas Nebraska was bleak and limited to a guitar/harmonica instrumental accompanyment, at least Bruce actually put some creative stylings into those songs. And each of those tunes moved at distinctive paces and several of them had strong melodies. The Ghost of Tom Joad on the other hand is dull, dismal, and boring.
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