A recent debate over a lyric in a beloved Bruce Springsteen song has been settled by one of the rock legend’s closest collaborators.
The intense argument between Springsteen fans began on July 3rd when New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman tweeted the “Thunder Road” opening lyric prior to a Springsteen on Broadway performance, “A screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways.”
Fans descended on the tweet, notifying Haberman that Mary’s dress doesn’t “sways,” it “waves.” That resulted in fans from the pro-“sways” camp to come to her defense, with a recent Los Angeles Times article breaking down the heated debate taking place on social media.
Both sides of the “sways”/”waves” spat had evidence in their favor: Both the lyrics in the original gatefold of the 1975 album and the lyric database on Springsteen’s official website shows the lyric as “waves,” even though handwritten lyric sheets from the era touted “sways,” as does Springsteen’s own memoir Born to Run.
While reps for Springsteen declined to weigh in on the debate and collaborators like Steven Van Zandt were less than eager to provide clarity (“Oy vey! Get this Bruce lyric shit outta my feed,” he tweeted in response to an inquiry), Springsteen’s manager and Born to Run co-producer Jon Landau authoritatively settled the debate in an email to New Yorker’s David Remnick.
“The word is ‘sways,’” Landau wrote. “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 added, “And, by the way, ‘dresses’ do not know how to ‘wave.’”
Variety reported that on Saturday afternoon, the official Springsteen website still noted that “Mary’s dress waves” on the “Thunder Road” lyrics page; however, as of Sunday morning, that page has since been updated to state, in fact, that “Mary’s dress sways.”