THUNDER ROAD

Album version

The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside, darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me

You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets
Well now I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's bustin' open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting down on the tracks

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoken
Tonight we'll be free, all the promises will be broken
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 roaring 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


Page last updated: 10 Sep 2012

Intro

Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, THUNDER ROAD is the opening track on his 1975 album Born To Run. The above lyrics are for Springsteen's studio version of THUNDER ROAD as released on Born To Run.

This fans favorite has been performed live in many different ways: full-band, stripped down, guitar solo, piano solo, slowed down, etc...

This album version of THUNDER ROAD was also included on the Greatest Hits (1995 edition) compilation album in 1995, The Essential Bruce Springsteen compilation album in 2003, the Greatest Hits (both the 2009 U.S. edition and the 2009 European edition) compilation album in 2009, and the Collection: 1973-2012 compilation album in 2013.

Composition and Origin

THUNDER ROAD underwent considerable evolution as it was written, with an early version titled "Wings For Wheels" and later versions titled "Thunder Road". The unreleased Born To Run outtake WALKING IN THE STREET contains lyrics that would end up in THUNDER ROAD.

During an April 1995 interview with Australian rock journalist Ian 'Molly' Meldrum held in Los Angeles, CA, Springsteen was asked about a song called GLORY ROAD, which Meldrum thinks it was a very early draft of THUNDER ROAD. Meldrum got his information reading Charles R. Cross' 1989 book Backstreets: Springsteen, the Man and His Music. Springsteen, of course, was not expecting this kind of very specific question from him. He appeared bemused at first by the question but then seemed to have a recollection of the title and said, "now that title sound familiar, [...] you know, you might be right." He adds later that he's "not sure if that ['Thunder Road'] started out as 'Glory Road'."

The title phrase "Thunder Road" doesn't occur anywhere in the early version of the song, and is only used a couple of times in the middle section of the newer versions. Springsteen took the "Thunder Road" title from the Robert Mitchum 1958 movie Thunder Road (see movie info below). He declared that he was somehow inspired from the movie even if, as he said, "I never saw the movie, I only saw the poster in the lobby of the theater" (see the spoken intro for the live 19 Sep 1978 version). However, it is evidenced in his 1995 interview with Molly Meldrum that he did see the movie later on. He talks briefly about it and adds that he "was a big Robert Mitchum fan, [...] I wanted that band to sound like thunder, I wanted [...] to feel that sort of power."


Plot: A father comes home to Tennessee from the "police action" in Korea to take over operation of the family moonshine making operation, but runs afoul of some gangsters who want in on the action.

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry
Directed by: Arthur Ripley
Produced by: Robert Mitchum
Written by: Robert Mitchum (story), James Atlee Phillips, Walter Wise
Distributed by: United Artists
Release date: 10 May 1958 (USA)

The name of the girl mentioned at the beginning of the song was changed several times. It was "Angelina" (see the live 05 Feb 1975 version), then "Chrissie" (see alternate version #1 and alternate version #3), and then "Christina" (see alternate version #2) before Springsteen settled on "Mary". In a January 1999 interview for Mojo magazine, Mark Hagen asked Springsteen if Mary of THUNDER ROAD is "the same one who crops up in 'The River' and other places." Springsteen answered: "I couldn't say. Sometimes a name just comes out, I suppose there's all the interconnections that the songs make happen intentionally and unintentionally. A lot of the time you don't know a lot of what you're doing yourself."

Springsteen wrote in his 1998 book Songs: "'Thunder Road' opens the album, introducing its characters and its central proposition: Do you want to take a chance? On us? On life?"

The lyrics "We got one last chance to make it real / To trade in these wings on some wheels" echo Springsteen's make-it-or-break-it proposition. His first two albums had sold poorly (less than 90,000 copies), and the success of his third album Born To Run was crucial because Columbia Records was no longer enamored with the highly touted Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen has always stated that Roy Orbison had a huge impact on his music. Orbison's influence is evident in many Springsteen songs, especially on the Born To Run album. In the first verse of THUNDER ROAD, he even name-checks him: "Roy Orbison singing for the lonely / Hey that's me and I want you only." Apparently this line is a reference to Orbison's 1960 hit ONLY THE LONELY. Springsteen declared in his 1995 interview with Molly Meldrum that he "tried to sing really full voiced and out of my chest because I was fanatically listening to Roy Orbison at the time, and his vocal power, there will never be a voice like that." In the liner notes of his 1995 Greatest Hits album, Springsteen wrote that he "Stole the title from the Robert Mitchum picture, the vocal sound from Roy Orbison (I Tried), the innocence of the tome was mine."

Recording

The full-band version of THUNDER ROAD that was initially intended to be released on the Born To Run album was more than seven minutes long. Jon Landau suggested shrinking it to about four, and moving Clarence Clemons's saxophone solo from the middle of the song to the end. Springsteen was so pleased with the final result that he hired Landau as co-producer of the album the next day. Nick Hasted writes in the November 2005 issue of Uncut magazine that "Landau fixed an edit of an early 'Thunder Road'. By April, he was co-producer, and signed up for two per cent of whatever the record made." This might indicate that THUNDER ROAD was one of the earliest recordings from the Mar-Jul 1975 sessions, and most probably recorded in the Mar-Apr 1975 period.

Springsteen envisioned Born To Run as a "day in the life" concept album, and at some point THUNDER ROAD was slated to appear twice, opening the album in an acoustic arrangement and closing it in a full-band take.

The album version of THUNDER ROAD opens with a quiet piano and harmonica introduction, meant, as Springsteen said years later in the Wings For Wheels: The Making Of Born To Run documentary, as a welcoming to both the track and the album, a signifier that something was about to happen. Eschewing a traditional verse-and-chorus structure, the song's arrangement gradually ramps up in instrumentation, tempo, and intensity. Finally, after the closing line there is a saxophone-and-piano duet in the instrumental coda. In his book Born To Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, Dave Marsh wrote that "'Thunder Road' is a statement of purpose; in its way, it encapsulates the whole story of the album."

The track features Bruce Springsteen on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, Garry Tallent on bass guitar, Max Weinberg on drums, Roy Bittan on Fender Rhodes, glockenspiel, and background vocals, Clarence Clemons on saxophones, Mike Appel on background vocals, and Steve Van Zandt on background vocals. It was arranged by Bruce Springsteen, produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, and Mike Appel, and recorded and mixed at The Record Plant in New York City, NY.

Circulating Studio Versions

There are five studio versions of THUNDER ROAD in circulation, all recorded at The Record Plant:

Alternate version #1, alternate version #3, and alternate version #4 have circulated for a long time on several bootlegs while alternate version #2 appeared for the first time in late 2005 on Sirius XM's E Street Radio channel. It should also be noted that there's a good chance that alternate version #4 is the same core recording as the album version, but simply a different mix. See each of these four versions for more details.

Sequel

THE PROMISE, which was written in 1976 and considered for the Darkness On The Edge Of Town album, explicitly mentions THUNDER ROAD by name but reveals a far more pessimistic outlook on the narrator's life and future. He would later mention that when he wrote it, he was reflecting on "the flip side of 'Thunder Road'". During the February 2003 benefit solo acoustic shows for DoubleTake magazine, a fan asked Springsteen "what was 'The Promise' about?" He answered that "after Born To Run, I wrote that [the Promise] for Darkness I think. And I was reflecting on sort of the flip side of 'Thunder Road' I think. I was reflecting on the responsibilities that I thought came with my fortune at that time and how it sort of fitted into my life and... that's generally what I remember it, it being about in some fashion." See the live 19 Feb 2003 version for more details.

Born To Run

The Born To Run recording sessions can be divided into two phases: the 1974 sessions and the 1975 sessions. The first phase consisted of scattered sessions conducted between May and October 1974 at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY, while Springsteen and the band were still in the midst of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. When the lengthy tour came to an end in March 1975, the recording sessions continued at The Record Plant in New York City, NY, in March 1975 and lasted till July. 914 Sound Studios was Mike Appel's studio of choice, but The Record Plant was advised by Springsteen's friend and future manager Jon Landau. All tracks on the Born To Run album, except the title track, were recorded during these Mar-Jul 1975 sessions.

Born To Run was commercially released on Columbia Records 01 Sep 1975. Note that a small quantity of blank label, advanced promo copies (known as the "Script Covers") were issued to VIPs on or around 12 Aug 1975, and normal promo copies were sent to radio stations on or around 24 Aug 1975. The album peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200. It also reached #36 on the UK Album Chart. The album re-entered the Billboard 200 in the eighties, reaching #66 in 1980 and #101 in 1985. The 30th anniversary reissue reached #18 in 2005.

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The album features 8 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 39:26. It is produced by Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel, and Jon Landau.

Born To Run track listing, side 1 (vinyl LP format):

  1. THUNDER ROAD
  2. TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT
  3. NIGHT
  4. BACKSTREETS

Born To Run track listing, side 2 (vinyl LP format):

  1. BORN TO RUN
  2. SHE'S THE ONE
  3. MEETING ACROSS THE RIVER
  4. JUNGLELAND

Greatest Hits 1995 Edition

Greatest Hits is Bruce Springsteen's first compilation album. It is a collection of some of his hit singles and popular album tracks. Some of these songs on Greatest Hits are shorter versions of the original album releases. The compilation also included four previously unreleased songs, three of which were recorded with the E Street Band in 1995. These three numbers constituted Springsteen's first release with the band since the late eighties.

Springsteen recorded an unreleased album in 1994, but his manager Jon Landau wasn't a fan of the project and recommended shelving it and focusing more on a "career overview"; this lead to the Greatest Hits sessions with the E Street Band in 1995. Springsteen called the band in early January 1995, and they assembled for the recording sessions on 09 Jan 1995 at the Hit Factory in New York City, NY. This was their first studio reunion in 11 years (since the Born In The USA sessions) and their first ever with Nils Lofgren.

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Greatest Hits was released 27 Feb 1995 on Columbia Records. It was commercially successful, peaking at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 (where it stayed on the chart for 32 weeks), the UK Album Chart, the Australian ARIA Albums Chart, and the Swedish Albums Chart. In 2008, the compilations had sold more than four million copies in the U.S.

Though it never was a single, Springsteen felt it was important to include THUNDER ROAD on Greatest Hits because "it seemed central." He told Neil Strauss in an October 1995 interview for Guitar World magazine: "We didn't try to get into a 'best of' because everybody's got their own ideas. Basically it was songs that came out as singles. The only exception is 'Thunder Road', but it seemed central." According to Dave Marsh, what prevented THUNDER ROAD for being released as a single back in 1975 was that, along with most of the Born To Run album's tracks, it was not short enough.

The Essential Bruce Springsteen

The Essential Bruce Springsteen is a compilation album released on 11 Nov 2003 on Columbia Records. It's part of a series of "Essential" sets released by Sony BMG (previously Sony Music Entertainment). Per liner notes comments by Springsteen, the collection was intended as an introduction to his music for new fans who attended shows on The Rising Tour; hence, it includes songs from every Springsteen album since his debut. The album was available as a 2-disc set (which clocks at 153:23) and as a limited edition 3-disc set (which clocks at 200:45). For the latter, the third disc contained a selection of rarities and previously unreleased recordings.

The Essential Bruce Springsteen debuted and peaked at #14 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart where it spent 13 weeks. The album was awarded certified gold and platinum records by the RIAA on 16 Dec 2003. The Essential Bruce Springsteen also reached #28 on the UK Albums Chart.

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Greatest Hits 2009 Edition

Greatest Hits (2009 edition) is a compilation album released by Columbia Records on 13 Jan 2009 in the United State where it was sold exclusively through Wal-Mart retailers. The album was also released (but non-exclusively) in Canada. Unlike the 1995 Greatest Hits release and The Essential Bruce Springsteen in 2003, this compilation was billed to "Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band" instead of just "Bruce Springsteen". The album contains 12 previously released studio tracks and clocks at 53:08.

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On 01 Jun 2009, Columbia Records released a European edition of the compilation album with an alternative track listing to promote Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's European leg of the Working On A Dream Tour. The European edition was also released in Israel and Mexico, and in Australia in August 2009. The album comes in a standard jewel case, but a limited digipack edition was also released in Europe. Greatest Hits (2009 European edition) contains 16 previously released studio tracks and 2 live bonus tracks taken from the Live/1975-85 box set. It clocks at 79:03.

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The album charted in several countries, but only made it to # 1 in Sweden. In general, the album did much better in Europe than in North America.

Collection: 1973-2012

Collection: 1973-2012 is a Bruce Springsteen compilation album released on Columbia Records in 2013. It was released on 08 Mar 2013 in Australia and 15 Apr 2013 in Europe. The compilation was not released commercially in the United States. Instead, a promotional version was given out exclusively to $1,500 ticket holders at the "MusiCares Person Of The Year" tribute event held in Los Angeles, CA, on 08 Feb 2013. The event honoured Springsteen for both his artistic achievements and philanthropic efforts. The compilation consists of 18 previously released studio tracks.

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Official Releases

THUNDER ROAD can also be found on seven Bruce Springsteen promo-only samplers and several various artists compilation albums.


Bruce Springsteen / Eric Clapton -- Born To Run / E. C. Was Here

LP – AFRTS (RL 13-6) – USA, 1975

US-only LP distributed by the U.S. military's "Armed Forces Radio And Television Service" for library rental at overseas Army bases. Side one contains five tracks from Springsteen's Born To Run album and side two contains four tracks from Eric Clapton's live album E. C. Was Here. The disc comes in a plain cardboard sleeve.

Bruce Springsteen -- Last American Hero From Asbury Park, N.J.

LP – CBS/Sony (YAPC 95) – Japan, 1978

Japan-only promotional LP sampler issued to promote Springsteen's fourth album Darkness On The Edge Of Town, though strangely including tracks from his first three albums only. This is one of the rarest Springsteen records ever.

Bruce Springsteen -- Bruce Springsteen Sampler

LP – Columbia (CDN-57) – Canada, 1980

Canada-only red label promotional LP sampler compiling 10 tracks from Springsteen's first five albums. Issued in a white die-cut cardboard sleeve.

Bruce Springsteen -- Storia E Musica Rock: Bruce Springsteen

Cassette – CBS (ROCK 05) – Italy, 1982

Italy-only cassette tape sampler issued exclusively with domestic magazine Storia E Musica Rock and compiling 7 tracks from Springsteen's first four albums.

Bruce Springsteen -- A Whole Bunch Of Bruce Springsteen

Cassette – Sony (XCTS 92005) – Japan, 1992

Japan-only promotional cassette tape sampler compiling 12 tracks from Springsteen's studio albums up to 1992.

Bruce Springsteen -- Bruce Springsteen

CD – Sony (XDDP 93084) – Japan, 1992

Japan-only promotional CD sampler compiling 16 tracks from Springsteen's studio albums up to 1992.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Rocks Vol. 1 (1973 - 1982)

CD-R – Sony (no catalogue number) – Japan, 2005

Japan-only promotional "Digest" CD-R advance sampler tying in with the release of the first six Japanese 2005 "mini-LP"-style Springsteen CD album reissues. This disc comes in a plain slimline jewel case with no artwork.

Various artists -- Exciting Highlights From CBS Mastersound

LP - CBS (AS 902) - USA, 1981

A US-only promotional sampler promoting CBS Mastersound's "Half-Speed Mastered Extended Range Recording" and "Digital Recording" audiophile pressings. Comes in a gatefold sleeve.

Various artists -- The Sound Of Music On Mastersound

LP - CBS (SAMP 15) - Holland, 1981

A Holland-only promotional sampler introducing the "Mastersound" reissue series in Europe.

Various artists -- Stereo Review: 35th Anniversary

CD - Columbia (CSK 5033) - USA, 1992

A US-only sampler issued to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Stereo Review magazine and featuring cuts from Columbia's "Mastersound" reissue catalogue. The disc is 24-carat gold-coated and is housed in a 12x6-inch longbox.

Various artists -- Classic Rock Box: Celebrating WNEW-FM's 25th Anniversary

4-CD - Polydor/Chronicles (314 515 913-2) - USA, 1992

4-CD box set released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of New York radio station WNEW-FM, with net proceeds benefiting the Nordoff-Robbins Musical Therapy Foundation.

Other versions of THUNDER ROAD were also officially released:


Part of the alternate version #1 of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Wings For Wheels: The Making Of Born To Run home video in 2005.

The live 18 Oct 1975 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Live/1975-85 box set in 1986.

The live 18 Nov 1975 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 album and home video in 2005.

The live 08 Dec 1978 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut home video in 2010.

The live 22 Sep 1979 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Video Anthology / 1978-88 home video in 1989.

The live 22 Sep 1992 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the In Concert / MTV Plugged home video in 1992 and album in 1993.

The live 05 Apr 1995 (Sony Music Studios) version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Hungry Heart EP in 1995.

The live 27 Jun 2000 / 01 Jul 2000 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Live In New York City home video in 2001.

The live 16 Oct 2002 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the Live In Barcelona home video in 2003.

The live 04 Apr 2005 version of THUNDER ROAD was officially released on the VH1 Storytellers home video in 2005.

Acclaim

THUNDER ROAD is a classic rock staple, and is consistently ranked as one of Springsteen's greatest songs, and one of the top rock songs of all time. In 2004, it was ranked #1 in WXPN's list of "The 885 All-Time Greatest Songs". In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine placed THUNDER ROAD at #86 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time". The song came in at #226 in Q's list of the "1001 Greatest Songs Ever" in 2003, in which they described it as "best for pleading on the porch." It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1998.

Julia Roberts, when asked which song lyric described her most accurately, chose THUNDER ROAD's "You ain't a beauty, but hey, you're alright." In an Esquire interview, when asked some top ten questions, Mary-Louise Parker notes THUNDER ROAD as a song that everyone must know the lyrics to. The song is featured in the book 31 Songs by British author Nick Hornby. In Hornby's novel High Fidelity, the protagonist Rob Fleming ranks THUNDER ROAD as one of his five best side one tracks.

Awards

THUNDER ROAD was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance". The 40th Grammy Awards ceremony was held on 25 Feb 1998 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, NY. Bruce Springsteen did not attend, and he lost to Bob Dylan's COLD IRONS BOUND.

Fall 2001 Acoustic Studio Version

During the 11 Sep 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the twin towers of the World Trade Center, Monmouth County, NJ, where Springsteen resides with his family, suffered one of the highest death tolls of any population center. Springsteen read some of the New York Times obituaries in which the deceased were identified as his fans; he wound up calling some of the families to express his condolences. There was a headline for one man, Jim Berger, that read "A Fan of the Boss". Springsteen called up his widow, Suzanne, and he even sent a pre-recorded tape of himself in studio performing a solo version of THUNDER ROAD to the family of James Berger. Berger was a senior vice president of the insurance company AON Consulting Group in the World Trade Center who helped people get out before he was killed when it collapsed. He was a big Springsteen fan and this was his favorite song. The special videotaped tribute was played during the victim's memorial service on 05 Oct 2001, which was attended by 1,000 people. Springsteen dedicated his performance to Berger's three sons. "I understand this was one of your Pop's favorite songs," he said. Then, with a harmonica in his mouth and a guitar in his hands, he began to play THUNDER ROAD. He also gave the boys the harmonica with which he recorded the song. THUNDER ROAD from the 30 Aug 2003 The Rising Tour show at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, would also be dedicated to the memory of Jim Berger.

The New York Times obituary for James Berger:

Jim Berger: A Fan of the Boss

In Jim Berger's car, there was only one kind of music: the raspy rock 'n' roll of the Boss. He grew up in Bruce Springsteen country along the Jersey Shore and never listened to anything else.

He knew the words to "Thunder Road" by heart, and often sang it for his passengers. "Every time you rode in Jim's car, Bruce was on, whether you liked it or not," said his wife, Suzanne.

At 6-foot-3, Jim, 44, an Aon executive, was a gentle giant who devoted his weekends to his three young sons, Nicholas, Alex and Christian. He was grooming them to be fans of the Giants, the Yankees and the Rangers. And he made sure they listened to Bruce, too. After a prayer service at church on Friday, his family and friends gathered at his home in Yardley, Penn. They poured wine, made a toast, and sang aloud to "Thunder Road." "He would have loved it," Suzanne said. "He taught us all a lesson in unconditional love."

Live History -- 1970's

THUNDER ROAD is known to have been performed at least 4 times during The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates.

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THUNDER ROAD is known to have been performed at least 79 times during the Born To Run Tour: 58 times during the 1st leg (73 know dates / 81 known shows, between July and December 1975) and 21 times during the 2nd leg (35 know dates, between March and May 1976). The 1976 portion of the tour would soon be nicknamed the "Chicken Scratch Tour" by the road crew because of the high proportion of secondary market, southern state locations. Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates during the Born To Run Tour; it may have been a stable number during the 2nd leg. When the tour kicked off, the song was played in a full-band arrangement but then was played in a slow arrangement featuring Roy Bittan on piano and Bruce Springsteen on harmonica and vocals from mid-August 1975 and till the end of the fist leg. It was also played in a solo acoustic arrangement at least on one occasion (on 29 Oct 1975 in Sacramento, CA). On the second leg however, the song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a new piano introduction by Roy Bittan. The live 18 Oct 1975 (early show) performance of THUNDER ROAD in West Hollywood, CA, was officially released on the Live/1975-85 box set in 1986. See the live 18 Oct 1975 version for more details. Audio and video for the complete 18 Nov 1975 show at Hammersmith Odeon in London, England, was released in 2005 on the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 CD and DVD. See the live 18 Nov 1975 version for more details.

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Despite the marvelous reception received by both Born To Run and the tour which followed, the relationship between Bruce Springsteen and his now former manager and producer Mike Appel was deteriorating. In July 1976 the storm broke; Mike Appel wrote to Springsteen saying that he would not allow Jon Landau (Springsteen's friend and co-producer of Born To Run) to produce the next album, citing a particular paragraph from their original agreement. Bruce replied on 27 Jul 1976 by firing manager Mike Appel and suing him and his management company Laurel Canyon Ltd. in Federal Court in Manhattan, claiming fraud, breach of trust, and undue influence. Appel countersued on 29 Jul 1976 in New York State Supreme Court, asking the court to prohibit Springsteen and Jon Landau from working together in studio. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band were slated to enter the studio that year for the recording of a new album, except that on 15 Sep 1976 the judge in the lawsuits case ruled that Springsteen was enjoined from any further recording with Columbia Records until Appel's suit was resolved. This would drag for about a year. Meanwhile, Springsteen continued gigging, and in the process broke his self-imposed rule of not playing the larger arenas. This was basically because he was not able to put a record out, and it was the only way his fans would be able to hear him at all. The tour became known as the "Lawsuit Tour".

THUNDER ROAD is known to have been performed at least 57 times during the Lawsuit Tour: 27 times during the 1st leg (29 known dates, between August and November 1976) and 30 times during the 2nd leg (33 known dates, between February and March 1977). Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates during the Lawsuit Tour; it may have been a stable number during both the 1st and the 2nd leg. On this tour, the song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a piano introduction by Roy Bittan.

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In preparation for the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, THUNDER ROAD was practiced on 19 May 1978 at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ, during the only known/confirmed private rehearsal prior to the tour's start.

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THUNDER ROAD is known to have been performed at least 105 times during the 111-date-long Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. A few setlists from that period are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour; it may have been a stable number during that tour. Video for the complete 08 Dec 1978 concert in Houston, TX, was released on the Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut DVD in 2010. See the live 08 Dec 1978 version for more details.

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THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 12 May 1977 and 13 May 1977 at Monmouth Arts Center in Red Bank, NJ, with The Asbury Park All-Star Revue. The song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a piano introduction by Roy Bittan. See the live 13 May 1977 (early show) version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 13 Sep 1977 at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, with with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. The song was played in a full-band arrangement. See the live 13 Sep 1977 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 03 Jun 1979 at Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, CA, during the wedding party for Marc Brickman (Springsteen's lighting director) and June Rudley (Springsteen's travel agent). Springsteen, along with members of the E Street Band, joined Ricky Lee Jones and Boz Scaggs for a three hour celebration, playing a mixture of classic covers and Springsteen originals.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 21 and 22 Sep 1979 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, during the MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future. Video footage for the song from the second night was included on the 1980 theatrical movie release No Nukes, which was later made available on home video. It was also included on Springsteen's Video Anthology / 1978-88 home video in 1989. See the live 22 Sep 1979 version for more details.

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Live History -- 1980's

In preparation for The River Tour, THUNDER ROAD is known to have been practiced during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place over the period of four nights in late September 1980 in Lititz, PA, prior to the tour's first leg.

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THUNDER ROAD is known to have been performed at least 136 times during the 138-date-long The River Tour, missing only two dates, both in May 1981 in Europe: the 08 May 1981 show in Stockholm, Sweden, and the 13 May 1981 show in Manchester, England. On the tour's opening night, 03 Oct 1980 at in Ann Arbor, MI, THUNDER ROAD was performed twice, the second being the show closer on which Bob Seger joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band onstage. See the live 03 Oct 1980 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known The River Tour performances list]

Setlists for the Born In The USA Tour rehearsals are unknown, but THUNDER ROAD was played on 08 Jun 1984 at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, during a warm-up gig for the tour. That was the first gig for Nils Lofgren with the E Street Band. See the live 08 Jun 1984 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 1984 pre-tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 156 times during the 156-date-long Born In The USA Tour; that is each and every one of the tour's regular dates.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known Born In The USA Tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed twice during the 67-date-long Tunnel Of Love Express Tour, in Oslo and Barcelona, the latter being the tour finale. Note that the song was reported to be have been sound-checked earlier in the tour, on 09 May 1988 in Bloomington, MN, but was not played during the show.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known Tunnel Of Love Express Tour performances list]

In preparation for Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour, THUNDER ROAD was practiced on 01 Sep 1988 at Wembley Stadium in London, England, during the only known/confirmed private rehearsal prior to the tour's start.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour rehearsals performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 13 times during the 20-date-long Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour. The setlist for the 14 Oct 1988 show in Mendoza, Argentina, is unknown, and therefore the song may have been played on one additional date. However, this is very unlikely since the song did not appear on any of the other setlists in the October part of the tour.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour performances list]

Live History -- 1990's

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on both Christic Institute benefit shows in November 1990 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. The song was played solo on grand piano. See the live 16 Nov 1990 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 1990 off-tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 96 times during the 102-date-long World Tour 1992-1993. On this tour, the song was played in its acoustic arrangement.

[Click here to display/hide detailed World Tour 1992-1993 performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 22 Sep 1992 at Warner Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles, CA, during the taping of MTV Unplugged. That performance was released on the In Concert / MTV Plugged home video in 1992 and the corresponding audio album the following year. See the live 22 Sep 1992 version for more details.

Following World Tour 1992-1993, THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 24 Jun 1993 in East Rutherford, NJ, during the "Concert To Fight Hunger" benefit show. The song was played in its acoustic arrangement. See the live 24 Jun 1993 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 1992-1993 off-tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was sound-checked prior to the 08 Nov 1996 show in Freehold, NJ, (as far as it's known) but it was not performed on any of The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour's regular shows. On 22 May 1997, after playing a show at Teatro Augusteo in Naples, Italy, Springsteen performed THUNDER ROAD from the theater's balcony. See the live 22 May 1997 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 15 Feb 1995 at Brooklyn Academy Of Music in New York City, NY, during the taping of Melissa Etheridge's episode of MTV Unplugged. The song was played in an acoustic arrangement as a duet Melissa with Etheridge. See the live 15 Feb 1995 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 21 Feb 1995 at Tramps nightclub in New York City, NY, during a reunion gig with the E Street Band. See the live 21 Feb 1995 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 05 Apr 1995 at Sony Music Studios in New York City, NY, during a gig with the E Street Band to promote the release of the Greatest Hits album. This live 05 Apr 1995 version of the song was officially released on the 1995 Hungry Heart EP. See the live 05 Apr 1995 (Sony Music Studios) version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 09 Jul 1995 at Cafe Eckstein in Berlin, Germany, during a gig with Wolfgang Niedecken and Leopardefellband to tape the HUNGRY HEART music video. The song was played in a solo electric arrangement. See the live 09 Jul 1995 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 05 May 1997 at Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, during the Polar Music Prize awards ceremony. The song was played in a solo acoustic arrangement. See the live 05 May 1997 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 31 Jan 1998 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during the "Come Together: Jon Bon Jovi & Friends" benefit concert. See the live 31 Jan 1998 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 1995 to 1998 off-tour performances list]

In preparation for The Reunion Tour, THUNDER ROAD was performed during both of the tour's two public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in March 1999 in Asbury Park. The song is also known to have been practiced during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place in March 2009 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg, and during the private rehearsal that took place in April 1999 in Barcelona the day before the tour kicked off in Spain.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Reunion Tour rehearsals performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 132 times during the 132-date-long The Reunion Tour; that is each and every one of the tour's regular dates. The song was played in a full-band arrangement. A mix of the 27 Jun 2000 and 01 Jul 2000 performances of THUNDER ROAD was officially released in 2001 on the Live In New York City home video, and was also included in 2003 on the Waitin' On A Sunny Day EP in Australia and Europe. See the live 27 Jun 2000 / 01 Jul 2000 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Reunion Tour performances list]

Live History -- 2000's

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 18 and 19 Oct 2001 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during the "The Alliance Of Neighbors Concerts". The song was also performed acoustically during a public sound-check held on the afternoon of 18 Oct 2001 at Count Basie Theatre. These shows were fundraisers for the families from Monmouth County, NJ, that were affected by the 9/11 tragedy. The 19 Oct 2001 show was broadcast on cable television. See the live 19 Oct 2001 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2001 off-tour performances list]

In preparation for The Rising Tour, THUNDER ROAD was performed during one of the tour's five public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in July and August 2002 in Asbury Park and East Rutherford.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Rising Tour rehearsals performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 59 times during the 120-date-long The Rising Tour. The complete 16 Oct 2002 concert at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain, was released on the Live In Barcelona DVD in 2003. See the live 16 Oct 2002 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Rising Tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 26 Jul 2002 at Sonny's Southern Cuisine restaurant in Asbury Park, NJ, when Springsteen played an intimate acoustic set for contest winners that were at the warm-up gig for The Rising Tour that took place on the afternoon of the same day at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park. Patti Scialfa joined Bruce Springsteen on harmony vocals for THUNDER ROAD.

THUNDER ROAD was performed on 29 Aug 2002 at Hayden Planetarium in New York City, NY, during an open air convert filmed for the MTV Video Music Awards. See the live 29 Aug 2002 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed on 04 Oct 2002 at Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston, MA, during the bridge opening ceremony. The song was played in a solo acoustic arrangement. See the live 04 Oct 2002 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on both DoubleTake magazine benefit shows in February 2003 at Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA. The song was played solo acoustic. See the live 19 Feb 2003 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed on 29 Apr 2003 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during "The Hope Concert" benefit. The song was played in a full-band version, with Bruce Springsteen backed by the Max Weinberg 7, plus Bobby Bandiera on guitar, and joined by Jon Bon Jovi on guitar and vocals. See the live 29 Apr 2003 version for more details. The song was also practiced the previous day at Count Basie Theatre during the concert's rehearsals.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2002-2003 off-tour performances list]

Bruce Springsteen performed on four election rallies for U.S. presidential candidate senator John Kerry in 2004. THUNDER ROAD was performed during one of the four rallies. all of the four rallies. The song was played in a solo acoustic arrangement. See the live 01 Nov 2004 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2004 election rallies performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed once during the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour, on 12 Oct 2005 in Minneapolis, MN. The song was performed solo piano. See the live 12 Oct 2005 version for more details. Note that the song was also sound-checked prior to the 03 Aug 2005 show in Grand Rapids, MI, but was not performed on the regular show.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 04 Apr 2005 at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, during the taping of Springsteen's episode of VH1's Storytellers television series. The song was played solo on grand piano. An edited version of the concert was released on the VH1 Storytellers DVD in 2005. See the live 04 Apr 2005 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2005 off-tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 28 times during the 100-date-long Magic Tour. On 14 Mar 2008 in Omaha, NE, the song featured a guest appearance by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes (see the the 14 Mar 2008 version). On 08 April 2008 in Anaheim, CA, the song opened the show for the first time with the E Street Band since early on the Born in The USA Tour. On 14 Jun 2008 in Cardiff, England, the song was dedicated to the late Tim Russert. The 30 Aug 2008 performance was during Harley-Davidson's 105th Anniversary Celebration – the song was played while the stage screens displayed a series of images of Springsteen riding his motorcycle over the years.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Magic Tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 07 Nov 2007 at Town Hall in New York City, NY, during the first annual "Stand Up for Heroes: A Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund" event. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica. See the live 07 Nov 2007 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 09 Nov 2007 at Pier Sixty in New York City, NY, during the fifth annual Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation benefit. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar. See the live 09 Nov 2007 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 07 May 2008 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during a benefit show for the historic theatre. The complete Born To Run album was played that night. See the live 07 May 2008 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 18 Jun 2008 via statellite from The Netherlands, during a televised memorial service for Tim Russert which was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica. See the live 18 Jun 2008 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed on the first (04 Oct 2008 in Philadelphia, PA), the second (05 Oct 2008 in Columbus, OH), the third (06 Oct 2008 in Ypsilanti, MI), and the last (02 Nov 2008 in Cleveland, OH) of the four Vote For Change events on which Bruce Springsteen appeared. he song was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica. See the live 04 Oct 2008 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 16 Oct 2008 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, NY, during the "Change Rocks" benefit concert. See the live 16 Oct 2008 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 05 Nov 2008 at Town Hall in New York City, NY, during the second annual "Stand Up for Heroes: A Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund" event. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2007-2008 off-tour performances list]

In preparation for the Working On A Dream Tour, THUNDER ROAD was performed during the first of the tour's two public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in March 2009 in Asbury Park. The song is also known to have been practiced during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place in March 2009 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Working On A Dream Tour rehearsals performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed 50 times during the 83-date-long Working On A Dream Tour. Among these 50 performances, Jay Weinberg played drums 14 times on THUNDER ROAD. The 30 May 2009 performance was during Pinkpop festival and featured a guest appearance by Brandon Flowers of The Killers who shared lead vocals with Bruce Springsteen. See the live 30 May 2009 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Working On A Dream Tour performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 17 Nov 2009 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, NY, during the "Concert For Autism Speaks" event. The song was played in a solo acoustic arrangement. See the live 17 Nov 2009 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 04 and 05 Nov 2010 and 03 and 04 Nov 2011 at Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, when Bruce Springsteen appeared at Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers concerts. The song was the closer of each of these four shows and was played in an acoustic sing-along arrangement. Joe Grushecky joined Springsteen on lead vocals on THUNDER ROAD on the 04 Nov 2011 show. See the live 04 Nov 2010 version, the live 03 Nov 2011 version, and the live 04 Nov 2011 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2009-2011 off-tour performances list]

Since 2002, Springsteen has been playing private benefit shows for schools and colleges that his kids attended — Rumson Country Day School of Rumson, NJ, and Ranney School of Tinton Falls, NJ, and Boston College of Chestnut Hill, MA. THUNDER ROAD was performed at 7 of these fundraisers, always at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. On the first two of these shows (in 2002), the song was played in an acoustic arrangement with Springsteen on guitar and vocals and Patti Scialfa joining him on vocals. On the third of these shows (in 2008), the song was played solo on electric guitar. On the last four of these shows (in 2009, 2010, and 2011), the song was played solo acoustic. THUNDER ROAD was also performed on 22 May 2010 during a benefit gala for Gateway School held in New York City, NY. The song was played in an acoustic arrangement with Springsteen on guitar and vocals and Patti Scialfa joining him on vocals.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2002-2011 private benefit shows performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed during the eleventh (2011), twelfth (2012), and fourteenth (2014) annual Light Of Day benefits. The song closed the shows and was played in a sing-along acoustic arrangement. See the live 15 Jan 2011 version and the live 14 Jan 2012 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Light Of Day benefit shows performances list]

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 09 Mar 2012 at Apollo Theater in New York City, NY, during the Sirius Satellite Radio 10-year anniversary celebration. The song was played with the E Street Band. See the live 09 Mar 2012 version for more details.

THUNDER ROAD was performed off-tour on 15 Mar 2012 at Moody Theater in Austin, TX, during an intimate concert following Bruce Springsteen's keynote speech at the South By Southwest music festival. The song was played with the E Street band.

THUNDER ROAD was performed on 18 Oct 2012 in Parma, OH, and Ames, IA, during two election rallies for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama on which Bruce Springsteen appeared that day. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2012 off-tour performances list]

In preparation for the Wrecking Ball Tour, THUNDER ROAD is known to have been practiced during the private rehearsal that took place in on 12 May 2012 in Seville, Spain prior to the tour's European leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Wrecking Ball Tour rehearsals performances list]

Covers

Many artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's THUNDER ROAD, including:


Kids Incorporated -- The Chart Hits

LP - K-Tel (NU 1850) - USA, 1985

John Berry -- Saddle The Wind

CD - no label (WRF 9091CD) - USA, 1990

Reissued in 1994 on Liberty (27900) and in 1998 on EMI-Capitol Special Products (unknown catalogue number). John Berry's cover of THUNDER ROAD was also included in 2004 on the various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album Reason To Believe: A Country Music Tribute To Bruce Springsteen.

Double Negative -- Live at Elandorf 1996

CD - Nibor (1058) - USA, 1996

This is a live album.

The Springstreeters -- Ground Zero

CD - no label (no catalogue number) - USA, 1997

This is the Williams College a-cappella group.

Barbara Fasano -- The Girls Of Summer

CD - Human Child (hcr400) - USA, 1998

Kevin Rowland -- My Beauty

CD - Creation (CRECD 216P) - UK, 1999

My Beauty was originally made of 12 tracks, but THUNDER ROAD was pulled from the album at the last minute due to Springsteen not approving to the lyrical re-writes done by Kevin Rowland. The promo-CD distributed to radio and press prior to the official album did have all 12 tracks. See Kevin Rowland's version for more details.

Frank Jaklitsch -- Outside The Lines

CD - unknown label (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 1999

American Boys -- Bruce Springsteen - Coverversion

CD - Azzurra (TBP 1113) - Italy, 2000

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It was reissued in 2003 under the title Bruce Springsteen: The Best - Cover 100%, with catalogue # TBP 1152.

Greg Kihn -- True Kihnfessions

CD - Corazong (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2000

Greg Kihn's cover of THUNDER ROAD was also included on two various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute releases. See Greg Kihn's version for more details.

Studio 99 -- Born In The USA: Springsteen - A Tribute

CD - Going For A Song (GFS402) - UK, 2001

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Richard Coleman -- I Can't Believe It's Not... Bruce Springsteen

CD - Pegasus (ICBINCD 047) - Germany, 2001

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Nick White -- The Music Of Bruce Springsteen

CD - Millennium Gold (MG2110) - Holland, 2002

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

The Section -- Hometown: The String Quartet Tribute To Springsteen

CD - Vitamin (CD 8678) - USA, 2002

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Various artists -- Drew's Famous 30 Greatest Race Tracks Classics

2-CD - Turn Up The Music (TUTM 1291-2) - USA, 2002

THUNDER ROAD is performed by The Hit Crew. Their cover was also included in 2012 on the download-only digital Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Eric Clapton tribute album A Tribute To Rock Icons Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel And Eric Clapton.

Various artists -- Born To Run 2003: The Best of The Boss, Volume One

CD - Uncut (UNCUT 2003 04A) - UK, 2003

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It's a free CD (volume 1 of 2) issued exclusively with the April 2003 issue of Uncut magazine. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Badly Drawn Boy. See Badly Drawn Boy's version for more details.

Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

3-CD - Good Sounds (DM 797-02) - Spain, 2003
2-CD - Good Sounds (DM 797E-02) - Spain, 2003
2-CD - Schoolhouse Records (SHR0022-2) - USA, 2003
2-CD - Sony (MHCP-928/9) - Japan, 2005
2-CD - Revolver (REVXD 244) - UK, 2005

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Dan Bern. The album contains two versions of THUNDER ROAD, the second one performed by Jaime Anglada and available on the Spanish 3-CD version only.

Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

3-CD - Good Sounds (DM 797-02) - Spain, 2003

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Jaime Anglada. The album contains two versions of THUNDER ROAD, the second one performed by Dan Bern and available on all other issue of the album while the Jaime Anglada one is available on the Spanish 3-CD version only.

Renato Russo -- Renato Russo Presente

CD - EMI (EMI 583029 2) - Brazil, 2003

New Jersey All Stars -- A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

CD - Cedar (1402) - Europe, 2004

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Ashton Jones -- American Boy

CD EP - unknown label (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2004

Martyn Joseph -- Run To Cover

CD - Pipe Records (PRCD 009) - UK, 2004

Cowboy Junkies -- 'Neath Your Covers, Part 1

CD EP - Zoë Records (01143-2005-2) - USA, 2004

This is a free 5-track EP given away with the purchase of Cowboy Junkies' One Soul Now album. See Cowboy Junkies' version for more details.

Various artists -- Thunder Road: Tracks Inspired By The Boss

CD - Uncut (UNCUT 2005 11) - UK, 2005

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It's a free CD issued exclusively with the November 2005 issue Uncut magazine. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Mary Lou Lord.

Mary Lou Lord has also released a live version of THUNDER ROAD on Live City Sounds, a 2001 album that she was selling on her website.

Paul Baribeau & Ginger Alford -- Darkness On The Edge Of Your Town Tour

CD - USA, 2005
CD - USA, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. All songs are performed/recorded live. CD-R copies with no label or catalogue number were sold on tour and online.

Matt Tyler -- Brilliant Disguise

CD-R - Dannyboy Records (DBM003) - UK, 2006

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Studio Group -- A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen Vol 2

Digital album - Charly Records (no catalogue number) - USA, 2006

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy -- The Brave And The Bold

LP - Overcoat Recordings (unknown catalogue number) - Canada, 2006
CD - Overcoat Recordings (OC27) - Canada, 2006

Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy's cover of THUNDER ROAD was also released in Norway in 2006 on the various artists promotional sampler Playground Sampler, Feb 2006.

The Blankket -- Be Your Own Boss

CD EP - Blocks Recording Club (040) - Canada, 2007

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute EP.

Milow -- You Don't Know

CD EP - Homeboy / Munich (MRCDS 858) - Belgium, 2007

This is a live EP.

Hayward Williams -- Another Sailor's Dream

CD - Machine Records (MAC761012) - USA, 2007

Sal Ritz And Joe Mixon -- No Shoes Required

CD - no label (no catalogue number) - USA, 2008

Lullaby Players -- Sleepytime Tunes: Bruce Springsteen Lullaby Tribute

CD - Copycats Entertainment (CCE 9048) - USA, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Various artists -- Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool: A Global Pop Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2-CD - Where It's At Is Where You Are (WIACD20) - UK, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Hillary And Theby Hillary And The Democrates.

Andrew Nicholson -- Driving All Night: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen Volume II

CD - no label (no catalogue number) - UK, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

The Pop Royals -- Sing The Hits Of Bruce Springsteen

Digital album - Marathon Media (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2009

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Rock Riot -- A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

Digital EP - Vanilla OMP (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2009

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute EP.

Various artists -- Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool: A Global Pop Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2-CD - Where It's At Is Where You Are (WIACD20) - UK, 2009

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. THUNDER ROAD is performed by Hillary And The Democrats.

Dana Agnellini -- River Of Dreams

CD - Silver Lining Records (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2009

David Bryce -- Gotcha Covered

CD - David Bryce (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2009

The Grindstone Cowboys -- The Hits

CD - no label (unknown catalogue number) - Canada, 2009

The Popettes -- Gold Classics

Digital album - Ectypal Music OMP (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2009

This is a download-only digital album.

The Hit Co. -- Long Live The Boss: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen Vol. 1 1973-1985

Digital album - Planet Music (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album. The Hit Co.'s cover of THUNDER ROAD was first released on their 2009 album Lightning And Thunder and was also included in 2012 on their download-only digital Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp tribute album Working Class Heroes: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, Vol. 1.

Mount Pleasant -- Born To Run

Digital album - unknown label (unknown catalogue number) - New Zealand, 2010

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It contains three versions of THUNDER ROAD, the third being a bonus track performed by Joseph Harper.

Merry Miller -- "Pop" Favorites On the Harp

Digital album - Harp Music To Go (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital album.

Jukebox Junction -- Trip Down Memory Lane: Enduring Classics From Yesterday

Digital album - Silence Is Golden / OMP (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital album.

Soundmachine -- Ultimate Backing Tracks: Classic Rock, Vol. 2

Digital album - Studio11 (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital album.

Twighlight Trio -- Pure Instrumental: All Hits V2

Digital album - Digital Revolution (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital album.

Michael William Andersen -- Heavy Iron

CD - yellowcab643 (no catalogue number) - USA, 2010

Kyle Swartzwelder -- Our Home In Yonder Field

Digital EP - 13:13 Records (1313-002) - USA, 2010

This is a download-only digital EP.

The Boss Band -- The Ultimate Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

Digital album - Big Eye Music (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2011

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

The Wanted -- A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

Digital EP - Vanilla OMP (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2011

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute EP.

Dan May -- Dying Breed

CD - unknown label (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2011

Alice Ripley -- Daily Practice Volume 1

CD - Sh-K-Boom Records (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2011

Paul Roush -- Today's The Day

CD - no label (no catalogue number) - USA, 2011

Déjà Vu -- Tribute To Working Class Hero Bruce Springsteen, Vol. 2

Digital album - Zulu (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2012

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Frank Turner -- The Second Three Years

CD - Xtra Mile Recordings (XMR053CD) - UK, 2012

This is a Frank Turner compilation album. His cover of THUNDER ROAD was first released in the UK in 2009 on the B-side of a limited 7-inch single on Xtra Mile Recordings (no catalogue number) with REASONS NOT TO BE AN IDIOT on the A-Side. The song was also released in the USA in 2009 on the B-side of Under The Influence Vol. 8, a 7-inch single on Suburban Home Records (catalogue number SH124-7) that has Austin Lucas' TO DADDY on the A-side.

Martyn Joseph -- Tires Rushing By In The Rain

CD - Pipe Records (unknown catalogue number) - UK, 2013

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

References in Popular Culture

With the title taken from the Bruce Springsteen song, Thunder Road magazine was founded in 1976 by Lou Cohan and Ken Viola. It was the first Springsteen fanzine, and it published only 6 issues, the last one being actually a double issue (#6/7 - Fall 1982).

Peter Bogdanovich's 1985 movie Mask originally featured extensive use of Springsteen's music in the soundtrack, including THUNDER ROAD. The music was used to set a timeline for the story, and Springsteen is a favorite of Roy "Rocky" Dennis, about whom the story is based. By the time the movie was released to theaters, the Bruce element had to be stripped down (against the director's will) and replaced by Bob Seger songs. A new director's cut was released on DVD from Universal Studios in September 2004, and is seven minutes longer with the original Bruce Springsteen song score restored. "Now it exists in the form it should have been 20 years ago," Bogdanovich told ESPN. "I think you'll find it a much better picture." Bogdanovich also discusses the Springsteen element in a commentary track on the DVD.


Plot: A boy with a massive facial skull deformity and biker gang mother attempts to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances.

Starring: Cher, Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliott, Laura Dern, Estelle Getty
Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich
Produced by: Martin Starger
Written by: Anna Hamilton Phelan
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: 08 Mar 1985

Bruce Springsteen and THUNDER ROAD are mentioned in THE RING, a song by the New York alt-country band The Hangdogs, available on their 1998 album East Of Yesterday.

And hey, while you're looking, maybe you could have a glance at this Springsteen bootleg circa 84, was playing "Thunder Road" the night I rode out for the promised land, now I found her and I don't need it no more.
[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

THUNDER ROAD and many other Springsteen references appear in SPEED, as song by Canadian group Bran Van 3000, available on their 2001 album Discosis.

See Mary dancing across the porch she put her rolled up Ziggys in her rock and roll jersey Jersey, she was born to run she was the spirit of midnight she was blinded by the light she was holed up in jungleland straight up the rock and roll big boss turnpike down by the river of desire just off Thunder Road where you catch her in the tenth avenue freeze out she was lost in a flood Mary, queen of Arkansas dreaming of a Cadillac ranch with a hungry heart but most of all she was born in the USA Asbury Park, New Jersey.
[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

Available Versions

List of available versions of THUNDER ROAD on this website:

Credits / References

Thanks Charissa for the contribution. Thanks Carlo Bondi for the Storia E Musica Rock: Bruce Springsteen cassette tape scan.

Most of the recording info on this page is taken from Brucebase. Some of the info and scans for the above Bruce Springsteen official releases are taken from the Lost In The Flood website. Most info and scans for the above Bruce Springsteen tribute albums are taken from the Nebraska website.

Request

I'm not sure that I mentioned all the existing official releases that include Springsteen's THUNDER ROAD, and I don't have the complete info and scans for all of them. You can help by sending additions, corrections, better scans, or comments at , or by using the below form. If you'd like to add a cover to the list, please send artist name, album title, cover art, format, country and original year of release, label and catalogue number. You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

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