Great Rock Albums of 1982: Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska


Now that I am mellowing with age a little, I found that listening to albums now that I didn’t think much of when I listened to them when they first came out but I am now appreciating them a bit more. Having grown up in New Jersey, I was hoping that when I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” again, that I would feel the same way. Unfortunately, I don’t.

With “Nebraska,” Bruce plays all of the instruments himself and he goes for a more folk sound on it. In fact, quite a few country artists, including the late Johnny Cash, have covered songs from “Nebraska.” That’s another reason why I should be more into this album because it was during my military days which were mainly based in North Carolina and that gave me more of an appreciation for country music. Sadly to say, that even that doesn’t make me appreciate “Nebraska” any more. The only songs which I can really say I like are “Johnny 99” and “Used Cars.” Even the single “Atlantic City” doesn’t get me excited despite it being about the city I grew up near. The song sounds just as depressing as the actual city has become today. I went to Atlantic City back when I went back to the States last Autumn and the place is depressing. With three major casinos now closed, I have to agree with my friend’s assessment that Atlantic City has become the new Detroit minus the murders.

Track Listing:

1. Nebraska

2. Atlantic City

3. Mansion on the Hill

4. Johnny 99

5. Highway Patrolman

6. State Trooper

7. Used Cars

8. Open All Night

9. My Father’s House

10. Reason to Believe

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- all instruments and vocals

One argument that came out at the time of “Nebraska” and I totally reject to this day is the one that Bruce Springsteen is nothing without the E Street Band. No, what Bruce did was to go into the studio and make an album by himself. While hearing “Nebraska” makes me want to go and play one of his other albums, he does still show that he is a talented artist and continues to be. Two years after this album, he would go out and make history but that’s a story for another time.

Next post: 1982 Triumphs and Tragedy

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9 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1982: Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska”

  1. A fair assessment and good on you for trying it again! I’ll have to totally disagree, though. I love Nebraska. I play it from top to bottom often enough. I get what you’re saying about the depressing side of it, but I think that was the point of it. It ain’t supposed to be pretty! Wiki backs this up:

    “The songs on Nebraska both deal with ordinary, blue collar characters who face a challenge or a turning point in their lives, but also outsiders, criminals and mass murderers, who have little hope for the future – or no future at all, as in the title track, where the main character is sentenced to death in the electric chair. Unlike his previous albums, very little salvation and grace is present within the songs. The album’s uncompromising sound and mood, combined with its dark lyrical content has been described by a music critic as “one of the most challenging albums ever released by a major star on a major record label.””

    Your point about Detroit, the current Atlantic City (and many other places aside) is bang-on. This album feels the hurt and fear. Springsteen has done this all the tie in his career – songs about the hardships of the common man.

    Thanks for shining a light on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks and I get what you’re saying about the mood Bruce was trying to create. It is dark and I applaud him for his efforts in bringing the hardship of the common man to light. Maybe I’ll have to try it again sometime when I can listen to it with those thoughts in mind.


      • I sometimes think of this record a bit like some of Johnny Cash’s stuff – the reason he wore black all the time, etc. Maybe watch an hour of network news about the economy, crime and war before dropping the needle on this one, that might help frame of reference! 😉

        Good luck to you – I hope it speaks to you eventually!


      • I think you’re spot on about Johnny Cash and I will take your advise about watching the news before listening to this album again. You make a very good point. Of course, I could always go to Atlantic City, it would probably have the same effect.


  2. One of my favourite Springsteen albums this one. Really fond of it. One of two Springsteen albums I liked from the first moment I heard it (the other being Born to Run). Still spin it regularly, too.


    • “Born to Run” is my favourite Springsteen album too with “Darkness At The Edge of Town” come a not far off second. I’m going to have to follow keepsmealive’s advice before I listen to this one again.


      • Darkness on the Edge of Town is my third. Probably the only three I bother with these days, actually. I’d certainly encourage revisiting Nebraska – a really special one for a number of reasons (i dare say there aint many of those big mainstream artists that released albums recorded on a four track at home).


  3. I love this one too, although I’ve not owned it since the 80’s. Really love Johnny 99 – great track!


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