Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska (1982)


There is an adage in the record business that a recording artist's demos of new songs often come off better than the more polished versions later worked up in a studio. But Bruce Springsteen was the first person to act on that theory, when he opted to release the demo versions of his latest songs, recorded with only acoustic or electric guitar, harmonica, and vocals, as his sixth album, Nebraska. It was really the content that dictated the approach, however. Nebraska's ten songs marked a departure for Springsteen, even as they took him farther down a road he had been traveling previously. Gradually, his songs had become darker and more pessimistic, and those on Nebraska marked a new low. They also found him branching out into better developed stories. The title track was a first-person account of the killing spree of mass murderer Charlie Starkweather. (It can't have been coincidental that the same story was told in director Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands, also used as a Springsteen song title.) That song set the tone for a series of portraits of small-time criminals, desperate people, and those who loved them. Just as the recordings were unpolished, the songs themselves didn't seem quite finished; sometimes the same line turned up in two songs. But that only served to unify the album. Within the difficult times, however, there was hope, especially as the album went on. "Open All Night" was a Chuck Berry-style rocker, and the album closed with "Reason to Believe," a song whose hard-luck verses were belied by the chorus -- even if the singer couldn't understand what it was, "people find some reason to believe." Still, Nebraska was one of the most challenging albums ever released by a major star on a major record label.

3 comments:

decrepittapes said...

http://www.sendspace.com/file/ncnbtl

Chuk Am√łk said...

The connection between Malick's "Badlands" and Springsteen's "Nebraska" is not coincidental. Spingsteen saw the film, looked into the Starkweather/Fugate story, and wrote a song about which at many times referenced the film.
Legend also has it that when he submitted these recording to the E Street band they loved them (the demos, essentially) so much that they decided not to re-record and to release the album as is.

Luis Rafael said...

although -to me- he's not particularly "the boss", this is quintessential springsteen...in fact, the only physical album i own from him. it's that good that deserves a 30th anniv. 2012 remaster that makes justice to the dynamics of those recording sessions... would be f...kin' cool. lr