Nebraska
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Product Description

Hot on the heels of The River, his commercial breakthrough, Springsteen's decision to release the stark, demo-quality Nebraska seems downright perverse. But the genius of the album is unmistakable--with just an acoustic guitar and his howling harmonica to back him, Springsteen tells the stories of characters walking on both sides of the law, some of them directly on the line in between. The effect is that of a powerful series of black-and-white photographs--the details are bleak in and of themselves, but they ignite the imagination in ways that are more satisfying than full-color shots would be. "Mansion on the Hill," "Highway Patrolman," "Atlantic City," and the frightening "Nebraska" are among the most sharply rendered and memorable works of Springsteen's career. --Daniel Durchholz

Limited Edition Japanese pressing of this album comes housed in a miniature LP sleeve.

Customer Reviews:

  • The bleakest album I own
    Effectively demos for a recording session that ended up released because Bruce didn't like the way the band did it! And that straight after The River.

    This album is about as low key as any artist has a right to go and from its folky Nebraska beginning, through its asleep at the wheel State Trooper to insomniac chugs like Johnny 99 and Reason To Believe, this album creeps in from the Mid West unwelcome.

    While the nearest thing to a hit on the album is the roaring Atlantic City it is in the claustraphobia of User Cars and the melancholy of Highway Patrolman that Springsteen shows us something that has been coming upon us a long time and is still coming.

    Yet, perversely, the madcap Open All Night somehow always drags me back. Almost gives you a reason to believe....more info

  • Great American Classic
    Bruce has been singing, songwriting and producing music w/ the E street band. He takes a colder, acoustic sense of reality using contrast and sadness. A great travel cd, excellent lyrics!...more info
  • Bruce's Best Cd
    No one was ready for this when it first came out. Springsteen, his guitar, and his harmonica make some beautiful music. This is some of his best songs he ever written. A concept album of some sort Springsteen tells tales of murder, deception, and redemption. To make the album even darker he made all acoustic which was a brillant move IMO. Favorites include Nebraska, Atlantic City, Mansion on the Hill, Johnny 99, Highway Patrolman, State Trooper, My Father's House, and Reason to Believe. An album that should be owned by any Springsteen fan. Highly Highly Recommended. ...more info
  • Nebraska
    I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, and have nearly all of his CD's, and I am still a huge fan, but I don't think this CD is one of his best. Don't get me wrong - Springsteen has a knack for telling stories about people who have been through hard times and who have been through the darkest parts of life, and he has a knack for making us feel these characters' pain, but, I think the tone of the music is too low keyed - it's almost as if the music on each track sounds the same.

    But, still worth listening to....more info
  • A Monumental Album
    Powerful. Chilling. Beautiful. Moody. Sublime. Poignant. Masterful. Stark. Poetic. Heartwrenching. Funny. Raw. Minimalist. Subtle. Dangerous. Simply one of the greatest records I have ever heard.
    You could go on and on about this one. The cover photo to start with: Who would have the guts to put a b/w blurry photo, shot out of the windshield of a car on the front of a record? Why isn't it color? Where's the focus? Where are the people? Why no nice scenery? Not interested in any of that here! It works so wonderfully well, as does everything about this true masterpiece of an album. The record which showed what Springsteen was really all about.
    The stories, the people, the events he tells us about, they are so real. Mr. State Trooper: Please Don't Stop Me. You listen to that thing over and over again. The repetition of the bass chord of the acoustic guitar evoke the steady beat of rain and windshield wipers, the purring of an engine, traveling too fast in the night, on the run to or from--what?
    Not really a song, more of a chant, it's a work of towering genius, one of the most evocative and transcendental things you could ever hear. He creates more with one guitar string and his own expressive voice than most musicians do with a full band.
    This is the opposite of a commercial release. It's the equivalent of a great black and white movie, which, let's face it, most people don't like to watch anymore. But it is so true that in many ways the black and white is more colorful, more truthful, more expressive than full, garish color. Think "In Cold Blood", "Red River", "The Seventh Seal", even "Sin City".
    This is about the only Springsteen album I listened to for years.
    Glad to see he is now doing an acoustic tour, which I would much more likely go to. Thanks ...more info
  • True Springsteen
    Sometimes you can listen to a particular music album many times and just get the same feeling from it over and over again. But yet in just one listen you feel as if it really hits you in the "right place". I've just finished listening to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and that has just happened to me. I've come to the conclusion that Nebraska in a sense is probably springsteen's finest hour...although, musically speaking, I still leave Darkness On the Edge of Town just slightly above it. On Nebraska Bruce I think opens up himself in a way like he has never done before or since. By telling these "stories" of hard times and spiritual desolation he is in essence talking about his own darkness and tribulations that have followed him for most of his own life. What literally scares me about this album is that I think in certain ways it is honestly and brutally reflective of many many people in this country at this particular time. I guess being from N.J.I feel a strong sense of where springsteen is coming from (I guess literally LOL) but actually what he's trying to say about the horrific aftermath of a troubled economy and just simply trying to keep up with a FAST paced world. I think Bruce is really trying to carry us on his shoulders with this one and tries to really make the point of what it feels like to be walking on a thin thin line, pretty much a synonym for the state that this country seems to be in right now. But the album not only works lyrically but musically as well. The dark sounds of the harmonica and a subtle guitar really capture a lonely and emotionally wrenching atmosphere. I mean with Bruce just by himself one can sense with the sound and the lyrics of the record as if he's almost cutting himself off from the rest of the world which can easily become reflective of the feeling of the characters on the album. All I can say is that I highly reccomend this c.d. because I think it really sums up what Bruce Springsteen is all about. And through any sorrow or hard times anybody might be going through I think Bruce wants everybody to know in this darkness we will ultimatly find our own reason to believe!...more info
  • The best Boss album
    Unlike everyone else on the planet, I am not a huge Springsteen fan. That being said I love this album. So full of soul, it even rivals Van Morrison's Astral Weeks as one of the top soulfull albums ever. You also know you have done something right when Johnny Cash covers your song, as he did from one of Springsteen's songs here.
    Enjoy....more info
  • classic... well, some of the songs.
    This CD has a good feel to it. It's a dark, harrowing trip through the shadowy side of America. SOme of the songs are a little boring though. However, it is to be noted song #2 is one of the best songs I've ever heard. It's about gambling and people coming back from the dead. That's two plusses in my book....more info
  • The power is in the lyrics - you need to listen!
    Twelve and a half years after the release of his debut, Greetings from Asbury Park N.J. and two years after The River was delivered, Bruce Springsteen gave us Nebraska. This 1982 record represented an abrupt change in direction for this most popular of American artists. Springsteen's new course was so surprising and dramatic that you would be hard-pressed to find adequate words to describe it to a fan who had not yet been exposed. Gone are the horns; gone are Springsteen's electric guitar solos; gone are the anthems. We are no longer cruising in Jersey. We have moved to the mid-west and we are running from murder. Rock music is replaced by folk music - not gentle folk music either, but, rather, sparse music that is roots-driven, edgy and minimalist. We have Springsteen, his acoustic guitar and his harmonica. There is no-one else. On his prior recordings Springsteen told many stories that were not exactly uplifting. He wrote of economic and romantic hardships. On Nebraska he addresses violent death, the narrator's longing for a time when life was better and suicidal depression brought on by plant closings. The bleakness is unrelenting. The narrator of each song is at one stage of despair or another. Some suggest that the final cut, Reason to Believe, offers some hope. I don't think so. These people may think that they have a reason to believe but in reality they are done like toast.

    If you love Born to Run or Born in the USA there is absolutely no guaranty that you'll appreciate Nebraska. By the same token, if you are turned off by Springsteen's "anthemic" rockers but enjoy, say, the moody cds released by Johnny Cash in his last years then this may be for you.. Nebraska doesn't represent "popular" music. These aren't background songs for a cocktail party! The record is not an easy listen. However, if you do play it you must listen. The power is in the lyrics.
    ...more info
  • Mindblowing, stunning songwriting. (From an ex Bruce-hater!)
    Being 32 years old currently, the only Bruce I (and anyone else from my generation and younger) had ever heard was on MTV. So I'll admit to being very prejudice against the man and his music my whole life. I've always been into deep, dark music, and despised anybody with songs like "Born in the USA" etc. It's a tragedy that millions of others younger people will never hear the "real" Bruce and dismissing him as a pop-hero for "old" people. The only reason I bought this CD was because I'm a big fan of the movies Badlands and The Indian Runner. Sean Penn wrote The Indian Runner based mostly on one song on this album (Highway Patrol Man). Every song on this album instantly makes the listener feel like he has lived the life of each song's charactor. In the 3-4 minutes it takes Bruce to sing his songs, he forces the listener to become the person in the song for those short few minutes. Each song forces the listener to experience the haunting lives of others, each in it's own unique, very personal way. Even if you dont personally relate to the exact problems experienced by the charactors in these songs, you will relate to the sorrow/sad times that everyone of us has gone through. I'll end this with a quote:

    "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    ...more info
  • The Best from The Boss
    This is the absolute best Bruce Springsteen album...bar none!
    If you've never heard it...buy it now...sit back, relax and let it take over, you'll love it!
    Peace :o)...more info
  • Like listening to fingernails raking a chalkboard.
    Without a doubt, if Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska",were to be looped and played in the depths of hell, all of Satan's victims would scream for God's mercy.
    In "Nebraska", too many of Springsteen's songs play at a tempo not suitable for a man with limited singing ability. Without a catchy melody, or any accompaniment, the slow and depressing songs make you cringe with every note and new verse. It's like listening to fingernails raking a chalkboard.
    Clint Eastwood said, "A man has to know his limitations." Springsteen should have watched the movie. His scratchy and washed-out voice is not able to deliver on its own. If you've ever listened to Springsteen's, "Mary, My Queen of Arkansas," you'll know what I mean. That song came from his second album. Had a good friend advised him then, Springsteen wouldn't have put us through Nebraska.
    (As an aside, with as big as he is, Clarence Clemons needs to be the enforcer in the group. Any time the, "Boss," tries to sing on his own the big man should whack him on the side of his head with his sax.)
    Put aside the dull and banal rythms and you have to ask yourself, once you listen to the bleak lyrics, why any one would want to listen to such an album? It's like looking at carnage after a train wreck. After getting through it, I sweated, convinced myself I was suicidal, and made sure my Xanax pills were with me at all times. If you seek music that is uplifting, this is antithetical to anything you've ever listened to before.
    "Nebraska," is all gloom and doom. It's dark without hope. The darlings of the left have tried to prop up the album as some type of historic ground breaking work of art. Tell me where? That's nothing but a payback for all of Springsteen's political activist work. Somehow, without the aid of an education, the Jersey wharf rat learned quickly how to further his career through his associations.
    With this album, if you strip away your bias for him, you can't help but hope and pray Springsteen gets some voice lessons or never reads another Steinbeck novel.
    A melancholy lyric coughed out by an overreaching singer is a lethal combination. ...more info
  • Impossible to improve on
    I can't rate this album highly enough. If you're a fan of dark, brooding, gritty, real, raw, stripped back, haunting, honest, terse music, this is for you. I am so, so thankful that Springsteen never added his usual studio polish to these incredible songs. It's my favourite of his albums by a country mile, and whenever anyone tells me they hate Bruce Springsteen - usually because they see him as bombastic, overblown or jingoistic - I give them this to listen to. It never fails to change their mind. To me it's a perfect album - the lyrics are incredibly well crafted short stories, hugely evocative; the melodies are spot on, and his performances are flawless - confessional, resigned, poignant, desperate. Anyway, I've probably used up my quota of adjectives so... buy it....more info
  • Not for Everyone
    "You wanna know why I did what I did; well, sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world." So ends the first and title track of this album. The song 'Nebraska' is based, like Terrence Malick's 1973 movie 'Badlands', on the story of the 1950's killer, Charles Starkweather. As with all the songs here, Springsteen sings in the first person, becoming the characters he breathes to life. The first song, chilling and nihilistic, sets the tone for the rest of the album, which portrays the stark working class existance of small town life.

    Here we meet people living on the edge. People with a thin sense of hope running on empty. Yet out of the initial depression and bleakness of his landscape, Springsteen can find a humanity in many of his people, still shining just beneath the surface.

    This is not an album for everyone. Certainly, it is different from most of Bruce Springsteen's music, perhaps finding it's closest echo in 'The River'. The sound is raw, apparently recorded in Springsteen's own basement, and features a solo performance with only guitar and harmonica. It's tone and sometimes despair recalls the desperation of the dust bowl blues; the lyrics resonate like Raymond Carver stories put to music. Never before or since has Springsteen created such evocative slices of life with such an economy of words.

    All in all, an extraordinary album. Unique, wild, raw, and beautiful. Deceptive in its simplicity, and disturbing too. A great album....more info

  • Austere, even gloomy, but worth your attention.
    This is a great album though very dark and intense. "Atlantic City" has to be considered one of his greatest songs, it's a slice of life right out of "On the Waterfront". This is the album he made with just tape recorder and his own wits (which as you can see from this album are considerable). It's a necessity for anyone who appreciates Bruce and takes him personally. ...more info
  • Not Your Daddy's Springsteen
    When I first bought this CD, I gave it two spins and put it away, disgusted. It was dark, morose, depressing and anything but inspiring. Nothing in it really held my attention. Plus, it didn't have the kick that attracted me to so much of Bruce's other work.

    Years later, I heard a couple of cuts from the album on an alternative radio station and enjoyed them. So I decided I would give the album another chance. Oh what a day that was.

    This ain't your daddy's Springsteen. None of the characters that Bruce sings about are going out for a night of dancing or riding in a Cadillac, long and dark, shiny and black. No way and no how.

    This album is full of stories and its truest value is in its lyrics. The people in the stories are the downest and most desperate you ever heard about. Many reach middle age and can't find work in the one thing they're any good at. Many stand convicted of crime. One even pleads with a judge to put him to death instead of forcing him to sit in jail for years on end. Still others are searching in vain and in the cold for the days when they were young and felt so capable.

    So yes, the album is dark and morose. But it is also inspiring. Springsteen tells stories with words and melodies that grab at your guts and squeeze. When you are listening, you know you looking at life inside of those greasy little towns you've seen along the Jersey Turnpike -- the ones where everyone seems to have a junked car and a chained-up dog their barren back yard.

    The album ends with a curious selection, titled "Reason to Believe." It's all about how some people have lost love and have lost loved ones and who still find a reason to believe. Is that a coincidence? I bet not.

    ...more info
  • Simply one of Bruce's absolute best
    The thing that I find very interesting about Bruce Springsteen is that he is many things to many people. There are people who enjoy coming to his concerts to hear the flat out rocker anthems such as Born in the USA and Born to Run and there are people who come to hear beautiful ballads like Incident on 57th Street, The River, If I Should Fall Behind, etc.

    After the huge commercial success of The River, Bruce followed up that album with a sparse and stripped-down record entitled Nebraska. Gone were the pounding bass,drums, and electric guitars prominent in past E Street efforts. This album was bare-bones Bruce; just the Boss alone with guitar and harmonica. To be sure, this was risky stuff. Springsteen could have followed up with another commercial album and cemented his reputation right then and there. But he didn't. Instead, he released this jewel of an album filled with great lyrics and great story telling. This album is so powerful that it just grabs you by the throat and won't let go. Stories of desperation and despair abound. Many of the central characters in these songs have lost their way and have found themselves on the fringes of society. As one other reviewer wrote, this is not great party music and it is not intended to be. It is dark, introspective and chilling.

    There are many great songs on this record to recommend it: Nebraska, Atlantic City, Johnny 99, Highway Patrolman, and Reason to Believe (among others). Unfortunately, it is this writer's opinion that Bruce's later efforts to attempt to duplicate a Nebraska style record with Tom Joad, and even the newly released Devils and Dust just do not come close to the power of Nebraska. Why have lesser imitations when you can have the real thing? There will be people reading this review who will be puzzled and wonder what all the fuss is about, but this album is simply a masterpiece and is arguably one of Bruce's all time best. Give it a chance. It grows on you.......more info
  • Sparse and Burdensome Masterpiece
    Nebraska was allegedly recorded in Springsteen's home on a four-track. They were intended as demos for a new E-Street album. When Bruce went into the studio to flesh out the songs none of the approaches seemed to work at the time. Springsteen then decided to release it as it was. It became his most haunting and burdensome album to date.

    Nebraska is often mistaken as an album about the decline of the American heartland. Yet its themes are more diverse than that. Geographically the album stretches out from the east coast in Atlantic City and the west in Nebraska. The album is a road trip along the disillusioned.

    For the opening track Springsteen revives a popular folk tradition, the murder ballad. It chronicles the tale of to lovers on their murderous trip through the state. Their lives have become so dismal the lives of others don't seem to matter to them much as well. As the murderer states in court "I can't say that I'm sorry for the things that we done, At least for a little while sir me and her we had us some fun". The American Dream seems so far out of reach that only crime and murder seem to give some release. Similar sentiments are expressed in Johnny 99, where the main character feels forced to armed robbery with deadly results. "Now judge judge I had debts no honest man could pay, The bank was holdin' my mortgage and they was takin' my house away, Now I ain't sayin' that makes me an innocent man, But it was more 'n all this that put that gun in my hand" explains the character. The couple in Atlantic City take another approach, they gamble their last money, the motive the same.

    Moments of hopes and dreams are sparse on this record and always seem far of. In Used Cars our character dreams "Now, mister, the day my numbers comes in I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again", in Mansion on the Hill there are bittersweet reminisces "In the summer all the lights would shine there'd be music playin' people laughin' all the time, Me and my sister we'd hide out in the tall corn fields, Sit and listen to the mansion on the hill".

    Mostly Nebraska is bleak. Even when our characters manage to stay afloat there is still trouble lurking in the shadows. Joe Roberts our Highway Patrol man got his job after his farm went belly up. With his life on track there's still the burden of his brother Frank, "and Franky ain't no good". IN My Fathers House there's the burden of a father and son relation gone sour, haunting the young man's dreams. "My father's house stood shining hard and bright the branches and brambles tore my clothes and scratched my arms, But I ran till I fell, shaking in his arms" the character relates, when he wakes his father's far out of reach. Leaving Springsteen to wonder "Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me, How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe"...more info
  • Nebraska? yeah, more like Nereallybad
    This album is about a time in Bruce's life when he longed to pump his fist, but circumstances prevented him from doing so....more info
  • NJ bard meets Midwest Gothic
    This is my favorite Springsteen albums - heck, it's one of my favorite albums. You'll never hear these songs on the radio - they're too good, or too depressing or too Midwest Gothic. It starts out with a song about a guy headed for the electric chair and things pretty much go down from there.

    The album sounds like it could have been put together during the dust bowl years when farms failed and gangsters pulled three state crime spree until stopped by John Law. Things have not changed so very much.

    For a guy from the Jersey coast Springsteen evokes the openness of the Midwest pretty well. If you like this album and want to check out some more tales of life in the middle look into James McMurtry (Where'd You Hide the Body is his best)
    ...more info
  • beyond description
    Springsteen's "Nebraska" was one of his least successful albums commercially, to date having sold, I believe, fewer than a million copies.

    Among his fans, however, this CD is regarded with a kind of reverent awe: it is unquestionably Springsteen's best work, exploring dark, introspective themes that he had never visited before, and has not since.

    It's just unbelievable. I'm not really such a big fan of "The Boss," either. But this CD has a coherence, grace, and power that defy description.

    The lyrics will have you slitting your wrists, though....more info
  • Sooo bleak, sooo real
    When I first heard Springsteen as a 9 year old it was all Born In The USA and it was so overexposed that it got old real fast and made me feel a bit "over" the pseudo-celebratory crap it was used to celebrate/promote in the US.Not that the songwriter intended it that way...
    Fast forward a few years and my brother picked up Nebraska.It sounded way different but I still wasn't interested.A few years ago I met a guy who raved about Nebraska in a pub in Melbourne and in a moment of alcoholic inspiration bought a copy.
    A few years on and I can safely say that it is one of the best purchases I've made.The music is raw, delicate, painful and HUMAN!! A look at the sometimes seemingly pointless grind of our existence from the angles of normal people. ...more info
  • Spare Bruce
    Haunting, spare, acoustic Bruce - excellent songwriting and a fine alternative to Born in the USA...more info
  • Winter Never Ends
    Sparse and dark, Bruce Springsteen delves into the great depression of the soul when unbridled evil grips the mind, economic forces destroy the hearts of hard-working people and the real ramifications of rolling the loaded dice with organized crime.

    Released in September 1982, the tracks are demos Springsteen recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder. His voice powerfully conveys the bleakness, while his work on acoustic guitar and harmonica are timeless. An electric guitar is only used on Open All Night. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart and the single, Atlantic City (#10), had the best Billboard showing of three songs that were released.

    This is life when winter never ends, with the Grim Reaper moving swiftly into the picture, while doing a victory dance. ...more info
  • It's bleak in Nebraska
    Anyone who gives Bruce Springsteen a guitar and a harmonica and expects the same results they'd get by giving Bob Dylan the same instruments is, well, not going to get what they expect. Dylan would craft something beautiful, melodic, eloquent, twisty, like "Simple Twist of Fate" or "Shelter from the Storm." On "Nebraska," Springsteen adheres to his "working-class hero" formula, minus the salvation, plotting ten tales of hopelessness brought to life through ghostly vocals, weepy harmonica, and stark guitar. The crown jewel is "Atlantic City." Other draws include "Johnny 99," a sharp homage to Chuck Berry, the bitterly sarcastic "Reason to Believe," and the expected "troubles with father" tune ("My Father's House"). Even if these pieces don't excite you--and they certainly strike me--this man certainly has stories to tell....more info
  • comment on recording quality
    others have said how great this album is - i just thought i'd add a comment about the sound quality. i believe these are demo tapes, and in my (completely unprofessional - please, someone who knows better correct me if i mix things up!) opinion they're pretty good for that. but they are not well recorded. what i want to try to explain is that, at least to my ears, the poor quality doesn't detract from the music.

    the two main problems i hear are poor dynamic range/levels and excess echo/reverb. the first problem means that loud sounds are sometimes distorted (particularly the vocals), which can make you wince, but it's an intermittent problem and gives a raw edge that matches the material. the second is perhaps more a matter of taste - some reverb with vocal/acoustic guitar is a good thing, but this may be a bit rich. on the other hand it might help cover up some of the distortion. or maybe i'm confusing the two.

    there's also a third problem on a couple of tracks where the instruments are more "closely" miked than the vocals. so you get the impression that you're listening to a distant singer playing a guitar close by. but the better tracks (in my opinion) are the more "intimate" ones, where the vocal is as close as the instruments and this problem does not occur.

    whatever. what i'm trying to get round to saying is: that's it. frequency response is pretty much ok, i think, as is the balance between voice and instruments. so despite the problems it works, because the problems match the contents.

    in other words - it's worth it. this is good music....more info
  • A haunting look at American small-town mythology
    This is a startling gem. Absolutely amazing, haunting, and beautiful at the same time. "Nebraska" is an acoustic triumph, a basic folk album on which Springsteen has stripped his art down to the core. Bruce tosses the E Street Band to the wayside, whips out the ol' acoustic and "mouth harp," and sings sad songs of murder, fear, jealousy, revenge, hopelessness, poverty, and familial unrest.

    The lines "well, sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world" and "nothing feels better than blood on blood"...... Classic

    Highly Recommended!...more info

  • The Odd One Out
    Now this may come as a shock to some of you, but I by and large detest the music of Bruce Springsteen. I had the impression people fought wars to get rid of his dreadful bombast,his overwrought lyrics, and his overbaked tunes. For Pete's sake Born in the U.S.A is a crime!

    But here's the rub. This album is a complete exception. It may be the first lo-fi album by a major artist, after all new equipment had to be built in order to master the album.

    Why is it so good? Why do I like this when I find almost everything else he did abhorrent?

    Because it's stark, it's simple, it is by far and away his best set of lyrics, and in its own little way it's got the punk spirit all over it, a gesture of defiance and solidarity with the working man against the forces of Reagan and co. It matters because it captures the period so very well, almost all you need to know about the effect of Reagan's policies on blue collar America you can learn from this. This is an album seemingly dedicated to the people who didn't survive.

    If only he'd make another like this....more info

  • There's something wild in America...
    The title of this review comes from a Tennessee Williams quote, "There is something wild in the country that only the Night People know..."

    That quote demonstrates the essence of this album. That and the the power of desperation. Every one of these songs is about desperation -- circumstances and people -- somehow, a noose is sliding closed around each song's neck. Loss of youth, loss of life, loss of hope, everything is collapsing in songs like "Mansion on the Hill," "State Trooper," or "My Father's House." Some argue that the final song, "Reason to Live" is the only real song involving redemption, but I disagree. There are tiny redemptions throughout the album, perhaps overshadowed by the wildness, the desperation, the anxieties of living in a shadowy world.

    By titling the album Nebraska, Springsteen sets his sights on the heartland of America, he is talking, metaphorically, about the heart of our country. The American Dream -- the delusion which drives so many people's lives -- is a corrupter, rooted, this album argues, in desperation.

    Powerful, powerful, powerful.

    Listen once and be forever changed....more info

  • Not For Newcomers
    This is an excellent piece of music--please don't get me wrong. I will be sure to sing its praises insofar as I am able. First off, though, I must preface this review with a warning. If you are new to Bruce Springsteen and you think you like his music, you need to stick with the more mainstream material for a while. You're not going to warm up to this one quickly. You may not ever make it.

    The reason why you're going to have that difficulty is because there is nothing in this album that relates at all to what makes other music from Bruce Springsteen good. The E Street Band was excused, so that means no saxophone, no piano, and no gargantuan wall of sound. Indeed--I think you'll find that you can't even listen to this CD in your car because it occasionally fades so low as to be overwhelmed by the sounds of traffic. There is no way to even distinguish this as a Springsteen album, were it not for his grating, raspy, loveably awful voice on the tracks.

    Honestly, it's hard to say what makes this album good. I've always considered people who believe that any piece of music which sounds like an old drunk playing a kazoo into a tin can were stupid. I still do. You should not come to this show for its production values, because it sounds like something your neighbor would record in his garage. Fortunately, that works here, since Springsteen is the only performer and the sound itself is a lot more akin to that you would expect from a performance by a single person.

    I will confess that I hated this CD the first two times I played it. It moves slowly, there's little in the way of catchy tunes, and it's so quiet that you really can't do anything other than sit like a lump and listen to it. Over time, however, it has grown on me, mostly because of the brilliant execution of theme (harder to define in this one than his previous albums, but justice and the law play big roles) and the relatively uncluttered nature of the album. This is essentially what you get when you put Bruce Springsteen into a pressure cooker and sweat him down to a guitar and a harmonica, and there's a lot to like there (unlike Tom Joad, which pales in comparison to this effort). While I do think the disc gets slow at points, I still can't think of any fundamental flaw with it, and so it gets my somewhat unconditional recommendation. Just don't expect it to sound like Born in the U.S.A....more info