The official lyrics have long said the former. Many fans swear they hear the latter.
Now, Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau, a producer of the song as well as the “Born To Run” album on which it appears, has provided an answer.
“The word is ‘sways,’” Landau told the New Yorker, adding:
“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. And, by the way, ‘dresses’ do not know how to ‘wave.’”
Indeed, the song’s lyrics on Springsteen’s official website have been updated to “sways.”
The Bruce brouhaha was inadvertently kicked off by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who recently attended Springsteen’s newly reopened Broadway show and tweeted:
As music fans argued over the word, longtime E. Street Band member Little Steven weighed in, but didn’t exactly solve the dispute:
But as USA Today noted, the answer may have been hiding in plain sight. Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics from “Born to Run,” auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 2018, showed the word was “sways” all along, just as Landau said.