Now We Know What Bruce Springsteen Is Singing in “Thunder Road”

Jon Landau offers an answer

Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen makes a surprise appearance during Bob's Birthday Bash at the Light of Day Winterfest at Paramount Theatre on January 18, 2020 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

Four years ago, the internet was overtaken with heated debate over the color combination of a certain dress. Some saw it as blue and white; others were convinced that it was white and gold. The discussions that followed offered a case study in how people can view certain things in very different ways. Earlier this week, something very similar happened, although in this case it had to do with a song that’s several decades old.

The song in question was Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” and the controversy (such as it is) focused on a verb that Springsteen sings early on. What, then, was Mary’s dress doing? Some argue that the dress sways; others, that it waves. The debate found experts on all things Springsteen (Bossologists, perhaps?) offering detailed cases for both sides. Further complicating things was conflicting evidence from Springsteen himself.

Now, the question has been answered definitively. Pitchfork’s Evan Minsker reports that Jon Landau, Springsteen’s longtime manager, has responded to the question.

According to Pitchfork’s report, David Remnick of The New Yorker asked Landau whether he could clarify the question that’s on the minds of many a Springsteen enthusiast. Landau did exactly that. And if you’re a hardcore proponent of the “waves” camp, we have some bad news for you.

“The word is ‘sways.’ That’s the way he wrote it in his original notebooks, that’s the way he sang it on Born To Run in 1975, that’s the way he has always sung it at thousands of shows, and that’s the way he sings it right now on Broadway,” Landau told Remnick. With this mystery solved, only time will tell what the next Springsteen lyrical mystery might be.

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