Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska: The Album That Shaped My Fandom

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When I was young, around thirteen, I guess, my musical tastes shifted to the top-40. Having grown up on The Beatles, The Monkees, and KISS up to this point I now gave mainstream radio a listen. At this point, there were a lot of now-iconic artists (Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Supertramp ) that were on the charts. Also included among these was Bruce Springsteen who had released The River (1980) which contained the hit, “Hungry Heart” which I liked a lot.

In the years following I discovered other music within the Punk, New Wave, and Post-Punk genres, and so, by the time Bruce Springsteen released Born in the USA (1984), I thought I was way too cool for his music. This attitude stayed with me for many years.

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However, in 1997 I watched the film, Copland, and my interest in Bruce Springsteen was rekindled. Now, the tracks which soundtracked the film were from The River but I somehow connected the film with Nebraska. So, that was the first album I bought, and it is still my favorite.

Eight of the tracks written during the Nebraska sessions ended up on Born in the USA including the title track. The songs on Nebraska were released in their “demo” form without the E Street Band, although all of the songs were recorded in electric form with the full band, and exist in a vault as the Electric Nebraska Sessions.

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Songs from the album have been covered by such artists as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, The National, and Steve Earle. The song “Highway Patrolman” was the inspiration for the Sean Penn film The Indian Runner.

Personally, my favorite track is “Highway Patrolman,” and in my opinion, the album is flawless, being highlighted by such other classics as “Mansion on the Hill,” “Atlantic City,” “Johnny 99,” and “State Trooper.” It is a darker somber record with stories of blue-collar people and the struggles they face.

Since discovering this record I have gone on to love such albums as Born to Run (1975), Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. ( 1973), and his latest masterpiece, Letter to You (2020).

Please check out my video on Nebraska, by Bruce Springsteen:

Video credit: John Siden/Surface Noise

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