The dog days of summer bring endless balmy nights and I find my thoughts wandering down the road.
And no one rules the road like The Boss.
At my home in South Jersey I’m just a stone’s throw from the White Horse Pike and I find myself itching to hit the highway to chase storms and dreams along my own personal Thunder Road heading to Atlantic City.
And my memory drifts even further back to my carefree college days living in North Carolina where you only needed five minutes and a wrong turn down any given back country road to be in the middle of nowhere — roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair. I dream of getting lost and pulling over to the side of the road and lying on the hood of my car to gaze at all the stars free of light pollution, bright and pure and boundless.
Sometimes I fear the highway’s packed with broken heros on a last chance power drive…but I don’t care.
So c’mon, Mary…Oh oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land.
Somewhere out there is a perfect acoustic version of Thunder Road I heard one time driving home from a trip to visit friends in Raleigh, North Carolina. I believe it was a special version The Boss performed at that particular radio station’s acoustic session, and it was the greatest version of the song I ever heard. It was absolutely devastating, the tone of his voice…and the pregnant pauses, not present in other more polished versions, where it seemed as if time stood still and your life flashed before your eyes, all the heartbreak, all the joy, all the love, all the restlessness. I searched for it for hours in vain, and I have yet to hear it again… but the live version below (a duo with Melissa Etheridge) is pretty good. Honestly how can you wrong with any version of the greatest rock-n-roll song ever written? These lyrics are perfect:
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines rolling on
But when you get to the porch, they’re gone on the wind
So Mary, climb in
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win
If you’ve never felt that way, then you’ve never lived.
Melancholy and Nostalgia by David H. Schleicher.
Lyrics and Inspiration by The Boss.