google answers

Google offered a temporary service this week where for $3 they would research and answer a question for you. My co-worker Nick, being an early adopter and devout disciple of Google, was keen to try it out (it was he who first discovered that Google is indeed god).

Armed with a fine question and a credit card we humbly asked of Google, “What is the story of Tom Joad from Bruce Springsteen’s song The Ghost of Tom Joad?”

A few days later, Google replies:

Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is based on John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Tom is the main character in the book, which details the journey of migrant laborers from Okalahoma to California and all the troubles they endured.
For a summary of the book, visit:………

Lyrics to “The Ghost of Tom Joad”:…

and include this humourous disclaimer:

Please Note: The foregoing information is derived from the Google search engine or other public reference sources and is provided to assist in your searching. It has not been verified, however, and we do not represent that it is accurate, correct, complete, reliable, or otherwise valid. In other words, the information is provided “AS IS”, with no warranties whatsoever. Google expressly disclaims all express, implied, and statutory
warranties, to the fullest extent permitted by law. And under no circumstances shall Google be liable due to your use or misuse of the information provided herein.

We are impressed and incedentally recommend you listen to The Ghost of Tom Joad (either Bruce Springsteen’s original or Rage Against the Machine’s very original cover).


9 thoughts on “google answers

  1. Excellent.

    Like most false idols, it is wrong.

    Springsteen’s song/album is not based on the book. It is based, rather, on the Henry Ford character in the movie of the same name.

    I know this because:

    A) In Gutiar magazine he told the story of watching the movie one night with his kids and how it applied to some of his old works (Seeds, The River) but how Ford’s manifestation of Joad was so much different than he had gleamed from the book. He was moved to write the album as a companion to the movie.

    B) I saw him in concert about a month after the album was released and he invited the crowd to rent the movie and listen to the album immediately afterward. Because it (the album) was conceived in concert with the film.

    Now you might think this equivocation is minor, but since you are paying, and it is “God” don’t you think you should get the right answer?

    Somebody owes me three bucks.

  2. Actually, Tom Joad was Henry Ford’s original name. In a vain attempt to hide his Hungarian past, he changed his name at age 17 when he first tried to look for work in his native Kansas City, Kansas and met with ethnic bigotry. Bruce Springsteen’s father, Harold Slybork, met Ford/Joad at a combine harvester conference in 1923 in Willow Bend, Montana and they became fast friends, a relationship that lasted until Ford’s accidental death in 1973. The young Bruce Springsteen and his family often spent time at the Ford plantation, and by peeking over the banister on cigar and gin soaked evenings, was able to piece together enough information to learn the details of the story which, later in his life, he brought together as The Ghost of Tom Joad. Interestingly enough, the line Well the highway is alive tonight from the song was the chorus to a 1963 jingle advertising the Ford Fairlaine. I’ll take $1.50.

  3. So, the real question is, is it a worth while service? I believe that wired once told the story of services like this that were 1-800 numbers based mainly in LA. Stuck in traffic and wondering what time the movie are tonight? Call 1-800-ANSWER1

  4. Nick – if you like “Tom Joad”, remember to find Springsteen’s “Nebraska” – find it on vinyl – CD may be dominant (but fading) and MP3 may free and make the obscure available (if at the quality of a 1979 Volare’s am radio) but we are analog and so should be recorded accoustic music.

    This is especially the case with Nebraska which was recorded in his kitchen as a demo or a practice tape. It was so good it was released directly.

    In a few songs he ‘woooo’s along his guitar in a manner that is particularly harrowing in the contexts of the song especially in light it was recorded basically for his own consumption.

    Sadly the “bought on day of release in ’82 or ’83, extra stuff with the lp” copy, I had is long gone the way of many other albums I used to own.

  5. Now i’m confused – John Ford directed the classic movie*, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda in 1940, based of the novel about the plight of the Oakies, whose main charecter was named Tom Joad, which was written in 1939.

    And then some guy named Henry Ford (I’m probably making myself look like a fool on that one), was born Tom Joad – and he was who the song was written about. Seems a little fishy to me. Is everyone sure there facts are straight?

    * – side note: intrestingly, the movie still appears to be popular in Nebraska – and yet not in Oklahoma

  6. It would appear that Peter R. is being facetious and KJB is splitting hairs.

    After a wild goose chase to figure this whole thing out, I’ve discovered multiple sources that indicate the song is based off the John Steinbeck character Tom Joad. Whether it be the movie or book Grapes of Wrath is a little unclear, though KJB’s live concert experience would suggest Bruce saw the movie (though it is based on the book, right?).

    As for the whole Henry Ford is Tom Joad theory, it appears to be some sort of joke. Perhaps I should have know when Peter R. said Springsteen’s father’s name was “Harold Slybork” and that he met Springsteen at “a combine harvester conference in 1923”??!! Embarrisingly enough, you had three of us partially convinced that your story might have been true, thanks for nothing blasphemer.

  7. In other words, don’t believe everything (anything?) you read on the Internet. Even if it does cost you $3.00. And especially if it involves major medical procedures.

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