Bruce Springsteen’s Manager Just Ended a Decades-Long Debate About 1 of His Most Popular Song Lyrics

Those who consider themselves to be Bruce Springsteen’s biggest music fans might want to think twice: It’s possible you’ve been singing the wrong lyrics to one of his most famous songs this whole time.

Springsteen’s manager recently set the record straight about the lyrics that seem to have had everyone confused for the past 46 years.

Bruce Springsteen performing 'Born to Run' in 1975
Bruce Springsteen performing ‘Born to Run’ in 1975 | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ lyrics probably aren’t what you thought

When Springsteen’s breakthrough album “Born to Run” was released back in 1975, he’d already been playing music for years. However, the album set the stage for the rest of his career. And one of the most popular songs turned out to be “Thunder Road,” which was never actually released as a single, yet still saw widespread fame.

For years, there has been a debate about what the opening line to “Thunder Road” actually says. Many heard it as “The screen door slams / Mary’s dress waves,” while plenty of others thought it to be “Mary’s dress sways.

Well, Springsteen’s manager finally ended the years-long debate. According Rolling Stone, manager and co-producer Jon Landau wrote an email to New Yorker writer David Remnick to set the record straight.

“The word is ‘sways,’” Landau wrote in the email. He continued, “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.”

Landau went on to make an additional point: “And, by the way, ‘dresses’ do not know how to ‘wave.’”

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Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics are notoriously hard to understand

For years, people were unsure of the true lyrics because various printed materials were giving mixed messages. Springsteen’s official website even wrote “waves” while his memoir noted it was “sways.” And, sure enough, Springsteen’s site has been corrected to read the lyric as “sways.”

While it’s great that the debate has been settled, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that a Springsteen lyric was hard to understand. Springsteen’s somewhat mumbling way of singing, especially while live, was part of his charm and (likely unintentionally) became a part of his style. And in addition to the mumbling, some fans have found Springsteen’s lyrics to be a bit obscure; there have even been forums, such as Greasy Lake, which was created to talk about Springsteen, discussing interpretations of his songs. Still, those interpretations are, in part, what make him one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Bruce Springsteen earned plenty of recognition for his breakthrough album

Springsteen’s “Born to Run” provided some of his most iconic songs, and he certainly received recognition for his work. After its release, “Born to Run” reached no. 3 on the Billboard 200. By October, Springsteen was all over the place. His face was on the front of magazines, including both Time and Newsweek within the same week.

Today, “Born to Run” is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Songs such as “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” still frequently circulate radio stations and classic playlists.