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Ben’s BackTrack – Bruce Springsteen – ‘Nebraska’.

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ which was recorded straight to tape in his lounge room in 1982, (just him and his guitar) is both complex and sparse at the same time. No E-Street band on this record. Just Bruce. Check out the album cover. A bleak, featureless landscape, very fitting of the mood and subject matter of the record.

It’s an album about fractured relationships, loners and murderers, misfits and stark, hard luck stories. But it’s also a record of Springsteen and his folk rural roots, it’s a blues record without being a blues record if you know what I mean?…

After establishing himself as a major rock & roll force with previous records like ‘Born to Run’ and ‘The River’ and relentless touring to massive audiences, this record was a breakaway, and proved he could sit with guitar and tape recorder and make an uncluttered, stripped back album of beautiful, yet disturbing songs. A very brave step for someone who had the rock & roll world at his feet.

Nebraska will always be known as a unique standalone musical work for Springsteen, a record that will sit timelessly in his collection. Nebrasska did not have an immediate impact when it was released but over time it has gained momentum slowly and a devoted following. Springsteen’s did not tour at the time of the release of this album to support its distribution,  hence, the time taken for the album to gain the acclaim so well deserved. In a In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in December 1984, Springsteen said, “I was just doing songs for the next rock album, and I decided that what always took me so long in the studio was the writing. I would get in there, and I just wouldn’t have the material written, or it wasn’t written well enough, and so I’d record for a month, get a couple of things, go home write some more, record for another month — it wasn’t very efficient”

Springsteen also stated when asked about his intent for the album “I had no conscious political agenda or social theme,” he later wrote of this time in his autobiography, Born to Run.

Stand out tracks are ‘Atlantic City’ and the incredible ‘Johnny 99’ – a kinda rockabilly feeling where Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie come together. Johnny Cash covered this track on his 1983 album of the same title ‘Johnny 99’.

‘Nebraska’ is a true masterpiece. Give it a spin. 




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