Live Jun 1970 version

Will the sun ever shine again
Will the moon ever smile again
Don't you ask me now 'cause I don't know how they can
And hurry, we'll be late for the show
And where was Jesus in Ohio?

Will we run through the fields again
Oh will the barbed wires cut our legs again
Don't you ask me now 'cause I don't know how we can
And hurry, we'll be late for the show
Where was Jesus in Ohio?

As my life ends
Clouds in the fields that I like
And the sun disappears into the night
I look and you were born
And I hear you, I hear you calling to me in the distance
And then you'll see I'm resisting your essence
And as the cry of war outs the rain
I realize ??? why you see
It's your whole world comin' down on me

And the paper flag flies high over the soldiers grave
Let's see what mistake the young boy made was his life really done
In another land a flower drips in the morning dew
It's been thousands of years since I've seen you, you know that it's so true

And the gun they gave me is heavy, hun
And the helmet hurts my head
And the jokes they tell ain't funny, honey
Sometimes I feel I'm dead
And the gas makes it hard to breathe, baby
And the General never smiles
And the beds aren't big enough for me, baby
And it's raining all the time

Will the sun ever shine again
Will the moon ever smile again
Don't ask me now 'cause I don't know how they can
And hurry, you'll be late for the show
And where was Jesus in Ohio?

Page last updated: 17 Dec 2013


WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO is an unreleased Bruce Springsteen song from 1970.

The above lyrics are for a live performance of WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO at The String Factory in Richmond, VA, probably on 19 or 20 Jun 1970. Springsteen performed the song solo on acoustic guitar with no backing from Steel Mill.

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen wrote WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO in May or early June 1970. It's his emotionally charged response to the Kent State University shootings of 04 May 1970.

Curiously, when asked about WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO, Steel Mill drummer Vini Lopez couldn't recall the song or even the title. But as he said, there were so many songs and sometimes they would rehearse a song one night and it would never be played again.

Steel Mill may have recorded WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO at Challenger Eastern Surfboards in Asbury Park, NJ, a surfboard factory that was also Springsteen's home from late 1969 thru late 1970, and a makeshift studio environment of sufficient standard to produce reasonable quality recordings. Although the song might have been recorded as part of ongoing rehearsals at Challenger Eastern Surfboards, none of these 1969 and 1970 recordings is currently in circulation. Due to financial restrictions the reel-to-reel tapes were often reused. Consequently there is a distinct possibility that much of what was recorded at Challenger Eastern Surfboards no longer survives, even in Springsteen's personal archive.

The Kent State Shootings

The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, OH, and involved the shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, 04 May 1970. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on 30 Apr 1970. However, other students who were shot had merely been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of eight million students, and the event further divided the country, at this already socially contentious time, along political lines.

June 1970 Performance

WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO was performed live about a month after the Kent State shootings, at The String Factory in Richmond, VA. This was during a Steel Mill show but the song was played solo on acoustic guitar. Billy Bankrupt, a fan who saw a lot of Steel Mill shows back in the days, told this website that he witnessed Springsteen play the song at a Steel Mill show. "The rest of the band was there, but he played ['Where Was Jesus In Ohio'] solo while they took a break." Bankrupt was at the show with a friend who taped the song.

Two Steel Mill shows are confirmed to have taken place at The String Factory around that period, on 19 and 20 Jun 1970. The band was the sole act on the bill. It's likely that the live performance of WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO took place on one of these two dates. An audience recording from the show from which this song emanates exists, but unfortunately it's not currently in mainstream circulation, except for WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO which Billy Bankrupt posted on YouTube on 10 Nov 2013. The audience recording is for several songs from the show, and not the complete show.

Live History

WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO is known to have been performed at least once in Springsteen's early years. Very little is known about shows from this early period, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known 1970 performances list]


Thanks Billy Bankrupt for providing the audio for this live performance of WHERE WAS JESUS IN OHIO. Thanks Pete Russell (Peteadmin at Brucebase), Craig Statham, and Audio2575 (from Rare Springsteen Radio) for the lyrics help.


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