Track of the Day: 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' by Junip

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

From reader Amit Routh:

As someone who loves both Springsteen and song covers, I was delighted to see you post Town Mountain’s cover of “I'm On Fire.” That submission, combined with all the conversation this election cycle about the millions of Americans left broken by decades of economic inequality, inspired me to submit Junip’s cover of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

As I read more about the profound disenchantment and anger expressed by so many voters, particularly from Trump’s supporters, I keep returning to lines like “No home, no job, no peace, no rest” and “You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand.” Over 20 years later, these lines have lost none of their resonance in describing the experiences of many Americans.

José González, co-founder of Junip, is actually best known for his ethereal cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats”, but it’s Tom Joad’s ghost who haunts me most these days.

Update from another reader:

Your reader Amit is indeed onto something: “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is a great song and as relevant as ever. But, for my money, if you want to really FEEL it— and feel like somebody might actually do something about it—you have to listen to the cover by Rage Against the Machine. Makes me want to hit the streets every time.

(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)