Live 19 May 1978 version

Well, Johnny works in a factory and Billy works downtown
Terry works in a rock and roll band lookin' for that million-dollar sound
Me, I got a job down in Darlington but some nights I don't go
Some nights I go to the drive-in, oh and some nights I stay home
I followed that dream just like those guys do way up on the screen
I drove my Challenger down Route 9 through the dead ends and all the bad scenes
When the promise was broken, I cashed in a few of my own dreams

Well now I built that Challenger by myself, but I needed money and so I sold it
I lived a secret I should'a kept to myself, but I got drunk one night and I told it
All my life I fought this fight, the fight that no man can ever win
Every day it just gets harder to live this dream I'm believing in
Thunder Road, oh baby you were so right
Thunder Road, there's something dyin' down on the highway tonight

Well now my daddy taught me to walk quiet and how to make my peace with the past
I learned real good to tighten up inside and I don't say nothing unless I'm asked
When the promise is broken you go on living, but it steals something from down in your soul
Like when the truth is spoken and it don't make no difference, something in your heart turns cold
Well I followed that dream through the southwestern flats, the dead ends, and the two-bit bars
When the promise was broken I was far away from home sleepin' in the backseat of a borrowed car
Thunder Road, and when it washes away with the rain
Thunder Road, you learn to walk among the remains
Thunder Road, remember what me and Billy, we'd always say
Thunder Road, we were gonna take it all and throw it all away
Throw it all away


The above lyrics are for the live 19 May 1978 performance of THE PROMISE at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ, during a private warm-up rehearsal for the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement with the E Street Band. This arrangement was only used during these rehearsals and on the opening night of the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour (see the live 23 May 1978 version), and not again until 2010.

In 1978, Springsteen was singing the song with a rewritten final verse: "Well now my daddy taught me... / I learned real good...".


Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.

Available Versions

List of available versions of THE PROMISE on this website:

THE PROMISE [Official 1977 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Official 1978 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Official 1999 studio version]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 1]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 2]
THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 3]
THE PROMISE [Live 03 Aug 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 29 Sep 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 30 Oct 1976 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 19 May 1978 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 23 May 1978 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 01 Jul 2000 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 20 Jul 2005 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 07 Dec 2010 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 08 Feb 2014 version]
THE PROMISE [Live 22 Apr 2014 version]
THE PROMISE [Graziano Romani's cover version]

Page last updated: 08 Aug 2008