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Men walking along the railroad tracks

Going someplace, there's no going back

Highway patrol choppers coming up over the ridge

Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge

Shelter line stretching around the corner

Welcome to the new world order

Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest

No home, no job, no peace, no rest

Well, the highway is alive tonight

But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes

I'm sitting down here in the campfire light

Searching for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag

Preacher lights up a butt and he takes a drag

Waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last

In a cardboard box beneath the underpass

You got a one-way ticket to the promised land

You got a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand

Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock

Bathing in the city's aqueduct

Well the highway is alive tonight

Where it's headed, everybody knows

I'm sitting down here in the campfire light

Waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said, "Mom, wherever there's a cop beating a guy

Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries

Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air

Look for me, Mom, I'll be there

Wherever somebody's fighting for a place to stand

Or a decent job or a helping hand

Wherever somebody's struggling to be free

Look in their eyes, Ma, and you'll see me"

Well the highway is alive tonight

But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes

I'm sitting down here in the campfire light

With the ghost of old Tom Joad

  • Have you heard this song before?

  • Can you explain what’s all about?

  • Can you summarize its meaning=

Now, read the following passage from “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck (1939)

Tom Joad : I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin' fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled...

Ma Joad : Oh, Tommy, they'd drag you out and cut you down just like they done to Casy.

Tom Joad : They'd drag me anyways. Sooner or later they'd get me for one thing if not for another. Until then...

Ma Joad : Tommy, you're not aimin' to kill nobody.

Tom Joad : No, Ma, not that. That ain't it. It's just, well as long as I'm an outlaw anyways... maybe I can do somethin'... maybe I can just find out somethin', just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that's wrong and see if they ain't somethin' that can be done about it. I ain't thought it out all clear, Ma. I can't. I don't know enough.

Ma Joad : How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy? Why they could kill ya and I'd never know. They could hurt ya. How am I gonna know?

Tom Joad : Well, maybe it's like Casy says. A fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then...

Ma Joad : Then what, Tom?

Tom Joad : Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

Ma Joad : I don't understand it, Tom.

Tom Joad : Me, neither, Ma, but - just somethin' I been thinkin' about.

Published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath vividly portrays life during the Great Depression in America as it follows a family of Oklahoma tenant farmers traveling westward. It explores the strength and goodness of the human spirit.

When first published, Americans had a love/hate relationship to this novel. Some people applauded Steinbeck for capturing so honestly the lives of migrant farm workers during the Depression. Other accused him of being a socialist and of championing communist beliefs.

The Grapes of Wrath has been banned, burned, and bought over and over again. And that's why we love it. That's why it's still around. It struck a nerve. It upset people deeply. It literally changed  the face of American labor.

SYMBOLISM IN “THE GRAPES OF WRATH”. What represents what?



Inspired by the book and John Ford’s 1940 film adaptation, as well as by Woody Guthrie’s The Ballad Of Tom Joad, Springsteen wrote The Ghost Of Tom Joad in 1995


Miguel came from a small town in northern ___________.

He came north with his brother Louis to ________ three years ago

They crossed at the river levee, when Louis was just sixteen

And found work together in the _________ of the San Joaquin

They left their _______ and family

Their father said, "My sons one thing you will learn,

For everything the north gives, it exacts a price in return."

They worked side by side in the ____________

From morning till the day was through

Doing the work the hueros wouldn't do.

Word was out some men in from Sinaloa were looking for some hands

Well, deep in Fresno county there was a deserted chicken ranch

And there in a small tin shack on the edge of a ravine

Miguel and Luis stood cooking methamphetamine

You could spend a year in the orchards

Or make half as much in one ten hour shift

Working for the men from Sinaloa

But if you slipped the hydriodic acid

Could burn right through your ________

They'd leave you spittin' up blood in the ________

If you breathed those fumes in

It was early one winter evening as Miguel stood watch outside

When the shack exploded, lighting up the valley night

Miguel carried Louis' body over his shoulder down a swale

To the creekside and there in the tall grass, Louis Rosales __________

Miguel lifted Louis' body into his truck and then he _______

To where the morning sunlight fell on a eucalyptus grove

There in the dirt he dug up ten-thousand dollars. all that they'd saved

Kissed his brothers lips and placed him in his grave








Tonight my bag is packed

Tomorrow I'll walk these tracks

That will lead me across the border

Tomorrow my love and I

Will sleep beneath auburn skies

Somewhere across the border

And sweet blossoms fill the air

Pastures of gold and green

Roll down into cool clear waters

And in your arms beneath open skies

I'll kiss the sorrow from your eyes

There, across the border

We'll leave behind my dear

The pain and sadness we found here

And we'll drink from the Bravo's muddy water

Where the sky grows gray and wide

We'll meet on the other side

There, across the border

Tonight we'll sing the songs

I'll dream of you, my corazón

And tomorrow my heart will be strong

And may the saints blessing and grace

Carry me safely into your arms

There, across the border

For you I'll build a house

High upon a grassy hill

Somewhere across the border

Where pain and memory

Pain and memory have been stilled

There, across the border

For what are we

Without hope in our hearts

That someday we'll drink from God's blessed waters

And eat the fruit from the vine

I know love and fortune will be mine

Somewhere across the border







Riccardo Zambon, 25th May 2024

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