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''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' is the eleventh studio album and the second acoustic album, by American recording artist Bruce Springsteen. The album was released on November 21, 1995, through Columbia Records. The album was recorded and mixed at Thrill Hill West, Springsteen's home studio in Los Angeles, California. Following the 1995 studio reunion with the E Street Band and the release of ''Greatest Hits'', Springsteen's writing activity increased significantly. He wrote and recorded the album between March and September 1995. The album consists of seven solo tracks and five band tracks. ''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' debuted at number 11 on the US ''Billboard'' 200 chart, with 107,000 copies sold in its first week. The album won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Reception and composition

''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' received mostly favorable reviews. Mikal Gilmore of ''Rolling Stone'' called it "Springsteen's best album in ten years," and considered it "among the bravest work that anyone has given us this decade." However, it reached only number 11 on the ''Billboard'' 200, breaking a string of eight consecutive Top 5 studio albums in the United States for Springsteen. In ''The Village Voice''s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for the year's best albums, ''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' placed at #8 in the voting. Robert Christgau, the poll's creator, commended the album for being "the most courageous and the most depressing of the year," pointing out that Springsteen was the only artist in the poll's top 40 "to directly address the war on the poor (and, increasingly, what is called the middle class) that is now the political agenda of the industrialized world." However, he also criticized Springsteen's choice "to muffle his songs, so that only those who really want to hear their despair will bother trying. His tunes, arrangements, and mysteriously praised 'phrasing' aren’t just forbiddingly minimal — often they’re rather careless. This Brechtian strategy may be justified aesthetically. But it’s no paradox that it fails to engage — and no capitalist plot that it’s sold xpletive either. ''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' is a bore. It is recommended to the many people of conscience who’ve developed a taste for ambient techno and the Sea and Cake." Bill Wyman of ''The Chicago Reader'' thought ''The Ghost of Tom Joad'' was disappointing, writing that "Springsteen can be so literal that it's hard to appreciate some of the record's subtleties." He criticized the album for being "stolidly depoppified to ensure that no one will derive actual pleasure from it." The album is mainly backed by acoustic guitar work and the lyrics on most tracks are a somber reflection of life in the mid-1990s in America and Mexico.Symynkywicz, Jeffery B. (2008). ''The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption, from Asbury Park to Magic.'' Westminster John Knox Press. . p. 122. The character of Tom Joad entered the American consciousness in John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ''The Grapes of Wrath'', set against the economic hardships of the Great Depression. This spawned a film version starring Henry Fonda, which in turn inspired folk singer Woody Guthrie to pen "The Ballad of Tom Joad". The album's release was followed by Springsteen's solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, which ran from 1995 to 1997 and took place in mostly small venues.

Track listing

All songs are written by Bruce Springsteen. # "The Ghost of Tom Joad" – 4:23 # "Straight Time" – 3:25 # "Highway 29" – 3:39 # "Youngstown" – 3:52 # "Sinaloa Cowboys" – 3:51 # "The Line" – 5:14 # "Balboa Park" – 3:19 # "Dry Lightning" – 3:30 # "The New Timer" – 5:45 # "Across the Border" – 5:24 # "Galveston Bay" – 5:04 # "My Best Was Never Good Enough" – 2:00

Unreleased outtakes

Twelve of the 22 songs recorded during the album's sessions made the final cut while "Dead Man Walkin'" was released on the soundtrack for the movie ''Dead Man Walking'' and later on ''The Essential Bruce Springsteen'' and "Brothers Under the Bridge" was released on ''Tracks''. "I'm Turning Into Elvis" and "It's the Little Things That Count" remain unreleased; however, they were performed live while "Idiot's Delight" and "I'm Not Sleeping" were also performed live and along with "1945" and "Cheap Motel" were co-written with Joe Grushecky, who recorded the four songs for his 1997 album ''Coming Home''. * "Cynthia" * "Tiger Rose" * "I'm Turning Into Elvis" * "It's the Little Things That Count" * "Idiot's Delight" * "I'm Not Sleeping" * "1945" * "Cheap Motel"

Personnel

Credits as listed in the album liner notes. Musicians * Bruce Springsteen – vocal (tracks 1-12), guitar (tracks 1-12), harmonica (tracks 1, 10), keyboard (tracks 3, 5-7, 11, 12) * Danny Federici – keyboard (tracks 1, 2, 8, 10), accordion (track 10) *Chuck Plotkin – keyboard (track 4) * Gary Mallaberdrums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 8, 10), percussion (tracks 2, 4) * Marty Rifkin – pedal steel guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 10) * Garry Tallentbass (tracks 1, 8) * Jim Hanson – bass (tracks 2, 4) *Jennifer Condos – bass (track 10) * Soozie Tyrellviolin (tracks 2, 4, 8, 10), backing vocal (track 10) * Lisa Lowell – backing vocal (track 10) * Patti Scialfa – backing vocal (track 10) Technical * Bruce Sprinigsteen, Chuck Plotkinproduction * Toby Scottengineering and mixing * Greg Goldman – engineering assistant *Gary Myerberg – technical maintenance *Shari Sutcliff – musician contracts * Terry Magovern – research * Sandra Choron – art direction *Harry Choron – art production * Eric Dinyer – cover art * Pam Springsteen – interior photographs

Charts



Weekly charts



Year-end charts



Certifications and sales



References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Ghost Of Tom Joad, The Category:Bruce Springsteen albums Category:1995 albums Category:Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album Category:Albums produced by Chuck Plotkin Category:Columbia Records albums