Tom Morello/The Nightwatchman
In April, at two of Bruce Springsteen's shows in Anaheim, I had the privilege of playing "The Ghost of Tom Joad" with Bruce Springsteen. It is an amazing honor that the recording and video of night one of this performance will be released on digital format with all the proceeds going to benefit a Danny Federici Melanoma Fund. Danny, as you probably know, was Bruce's friend and musical collaborator for 40 years who recently passed away from complications due to skin cancer. A few days before the Anaheim shows I ran into Bruce Springsteen at a recording studio and we talked about the possibility of playing together some time in the future. I threw out the idea of perhaps tackling "The Ghost of Tom Joad". A few days later we spoke again on the phone and he said come on down to Anaheim and let's do this! I don't often get nervous for performances but frankly I was super scared for this one as Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists and playing on stage with him was going to literally be a dream come true. Bruce was unsure of whether we were going to play the song acoustic or electric so I practiced both versions and went down to soundcheck not knowing what to expect. When I got there Bruce was rehearsing the E Street band in what sounded like a very rocking version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad". I was down in catering and was very surprised to hear that he had raised the key of the song about seven steps above where it sits on "The Ghost of Tom Joad" album. I was in a near panic as I knew this was going to stretch The Nightwatchman's vocal range perhaps beyond his abilities. So it came time to rehearse the song at soundcheck and Bruce and the E Street band were very cool and gracious. As we began to play the song I realized that I was probably not going to be able to sing it and began sweating bullets. I told Bruce, Look I'm not sure if I can sing in that key. He and Steve Van Zandt came over and were both kind of singin the correct notes in my ears and I was sweating more bullets thinking Oh my gosh this is my once in a lifetime opportunity to play with Bruce Springsteen and I'm likely to blow it. So finally Bruce just looked me in the eye and said "It's gonna be fine". At that point I stopped worrying about it because, ya know, he's The Boss. The show that night couldn't have gone better. He and the band were amazing and I had a great time playing and singing "The Ghost of Tom Joad". When it came time for the guitar solo spot I thought I probably shouldn't hold anything back because who knows when I'll be on stage with Bruce Springsteen next. So I kinda went for it. Bruce and his fans were very appreciative. I know the utube version of that song has been out for a while but I understand that the version that's being released on July 15th is remixed and the video is re-edited for maximum rock impact.
Danny Federici will be very much missed. He was a great musician and an important part one of rocks greatest all time bands. Again, it was an honor to be on stage with the E Street band and my condolences and thoughts go out to Danny's friends and family.
- Tom Morello