People sometimes get obsessed with things that are, oh, let’s say stupid or meaningless or completely incorrect, but that’s definitely not what’s happening with the “debate” surrounding the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” No sir, this is a legitimate thing that people interpret in different ways, like that dress or whatever another example of this phenomenon is, and it is not our place to say which thing is correct or not… No, just kidding. There’s very clearly a correct thing here, it’s just that—for four decades—Bruce Springsteen himself had it wrong. So, here’s a quiz: In “Thunder Road,” what does Mary’s dress do? The screen door has just slammed and she’s dancing across the porch like a vision while the radio plays “Only The Lonely,” but what does her dress do?
It “sways,” obviously. Come on. It rhymes with plays. Swaying is a thing that dresses do. How could there be any argument? Well, for 46 years, every official version of the lyrics has said “waves” instead of “sways” even though that doesn’t track with either the rhyme or basic logic. It’s apparently been a thing for some time now that Springsteen fans will argue over which word is right, since one can clearly be heard in the song but the other is printed on Springsteen’s website and in his official songbook.
Writing for The New Yorker, David Remnick decided to investigate this mystery and try to figure out which word is the right one by talking to people on both sides of the debate and… yeah, it’s “sways.” Come on. That comes straight from Springsteen’s longtime friend and manager Jon Landau, who said it’s “sways” and that “any typos in official Bruce material will be corrected.” He also added that dresses “do not know how to ‘wave.”” More mysteries should be solved by just asking the people involved. It seems pretty easy. Now, could somebody please figure out the lyrics to “Dancing In The Dark” next? Why can’t you start a fire without a shark? And in “Born To Run,” who’s this tramp Gus? What’s his deal? And while we’re here, what are literally all the lyrics in “Born In The U.S.A.” other than the chorus? That seems like a fun song about how great America is, but we just want to double-check.