Friday, May 8, 2009

The Ghost of Tom Joad

(I'd have the videos embedded, but YouTube isn't playing nice today)

I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. Sure, I have Born in the USA (on vinyl, no less) and I'll sing along when "Dancing in the Dark" comes on the radio, but I'm still not a fan. It's a combination of (most) of his music not being my style and his politics.

I'm also no fan of John Steinbeck. He's second to Ernest Hemingway on my list of least favorite writers. Arthur Miller rounds out the top three. It's not that I have a problem with Steinbeck's writing; it's poignant and easy to read. I think having Steinbeck force-fed to me throughout middle and high school really ruined his works for me. Growing up in the Salinas Valley, California, Steinbeck was our golden boy. There's even a multimillion dollar Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

There's been a lot of discussion around the blogs -- and maybe even the mainstream media -- about The Grapes of Wrath in the past year. I haven't read the book in about fifteen years, but I do see how it relates to current times.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a really good song inspired by the book called "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Rage Against the Machine also did a really good, really angry cover of the song.

I probably like the song so much because I am misinterpreting it. I'm pretty sure Springsteen was likening the Great Depression and the fallout from the Dust Bowl to the recession of the 80's and early 90's which was undoubtedly a result of the vast right wing conspiracy.

Well, fuck all that. The great thing about music is that the listener can interpreted the way he wants to. Being as stubborn and single-minded as I am, I can completely forget that the song was written in the mid-90's and pretend that it was written during the current political and economical charlie foxtrot we're going though right now.

Election night, a line from the song popped into my head and it really hasn't left since:

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's fooling nobody as to where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the camp fire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

In all honesty, a lot of people are fooled as to where the road is going. Every day this week Bernanke and the mainstream media have been talking about the light at the end of the tunnel. Those of us who are "woken up" are not fooled. We know where the road is going. It may have some beautiful scenery just past the shoulders, but we know there's a cliff around one of those curves.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to leave a post here Friday, and I thought I did it right but apparently not! So I'm going to try again. This is a "test"