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.
yes, i’m dorky. i loved the tunnel of love lp.
“we gonna ride down baby into this tunnel of love.”
Diane, ha ha indeed. I would have to admit that is not one of my favorite Springsteen songs. But you can never go wrong with The Boss. –DHS
I have heard some great acoustic versions of Thunder Road myself on some various bootlegs over the years. It is one of those songs you never get tired of hearing and in the heat of the summer it is always good to cool down with some cool Bruce.
Have you ever seen him perform live? I did once during THE RISING tour, you can’t beat it. I always regretted I never caught him back in those early days of the 70’s when he playing small clubs like THE BOTTOM LINE in NYC.
John, no, I’ve never seen him live. He’s one of the few I would like to see…I’m generally not a “big concert” goer. Man, it would’ve been wild to see him back in the day at a small venue…you can’t beat that kind of environment for live music. –DHS
Well, I hope that you never find that version of the song again! The chances must be pretty high that the perfect version of your memory and hearing that exact same recording again now would turn out to be two very different things.
I am lucky in that sense. The “perfect versions” of songs that I carry in my head are all of live performances. They were ephemeral, unrepeatable moments that I can now recall fondly and never go back to in any other way.
Longman, you are probably right! Often it is more about the memory of the moment than the actual performance. –DHS
Springsteen live is a great piece of fun. He’s got it all, and the crowd just reacts to his every move. It’s all so perfect, but his acoustic stuff, is even better.
Just watching some of the videos from his live performances tells me you are most certainly right! –DHS