Springsteen's Manager May Have Settled Mystery

In 'Thunder Road,' Mary's dress 'sways' not 'waves,' says Jon Landau
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2021 9:56 AM CDT
Springsteen's Manager May Have Settled Mystery
In this 2018 photo, Bruce Springsteen performs at the 12th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.   (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)

If you missed it, a long-simmering Bruce Springsteen debate erupted online earlier this month about the song "Thunder Road." In the opening line, does the Boss sing that Mary's dress "sways" or "waves?" Each side has compelling evidence: The album's official lyrics say "waves," while Springsteen's own memoir cites "sways." Alas, Springsteen himself has not weighed in, but David Remnick of the New Yorker emailed the person he says is the next best thing: longtime Springsteen collaborator and manager Jon Landau. Not only is Landau definitive—it's "sways"—he says the official lyrics will be corrected nearly a half-century later.

“The word is ‘sways,’ ” Landau writes to Remnick. “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. Any typos in official Bruce material will be corrected. And, by the way, ‘dresses’ do not know how to ‘wave.'" Variety sums up: "Ahem, yes, exactly, say the pro-'sway' hordes who have insisted all along that they could trust their own ears over printed materials, and that clearly dress fabric does not have a quality of waving," writes Chris Willman. "To which the other side might have counter-argued: What is it that the Star-Spangled Banner does, again?" For the record, Willman thinks both words make sense in the song. (Read more Bruce Springsteen stories.)

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