The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen feat. Tom Morello
From the very beginning, music and social awareness have had a very close relationship, one often being the catalyst for the other. From Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Jim Morrison and John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down, whenever authority has been misused or a blind eye has been turned to the plight of society, musicians have taken it upon themselves to be beacons of hope and change. The songs may have changed, the words maybe a lot more raw, but the anger and pain that fuel them have not aged.
When The Ghost of Tom Joad was written, it specifically dealt with the challenges of capitalism and economic inequalities. Inspired by Tom Joad, the main character from John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath and Woody Guthrie’s song, The Ballad of Tom Joad, which was in turn based on John Ford’s cinematic adaptation of the book, the song is valid today as it was back when it was released. With the Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movements taking lives of their own and spreading across 900 streets, Springsteen‘s, “High times on Wall Street, hard times on main street” ring loud and true. But there’s another problem that I wish to talk about today.
A few days ago two boys in Mumbai were brutally murdered for standing up against eve-teasers. While politicians have used this for their own selfish mileage, the families of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes are yet to receive justice. What worries me most is that we like to tweet and talk about it online. Isn’t it time we do something more? An online forum is already pushing the case on a fast track, but it’s not enough.
Music can entertain, inform and inspire you. But it is up to you to go out and make a difference to the wrong you see. So while Tom Morello tears up this track with his signature electro funk-blues, it’s Bruce’s words that must call out to us to be more than what we think we can. Don’t let the cynics tell you otherwise. The world needs to know that evil and injustice can only live if you allow it to. And its death rests in your hands.
I can easily replace the title of this song to The Ghost of Keenan Santos, and it will still hold true. Every single word. I dedicate this to the memory of the two brave souls who fought for those they loved.
Wherever there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me ma’, I’ll be there
Wherever somebody is strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes ma’, you’ll see me!
Lest we forget.
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