Nebraska is the sixth studio album, and the first acoustic album by Bruce Springsteen. The album was released on September 30, 1982, by Columbia Records.
Track Listing Edit
- Atlantic City
- Mansion On The Hill
- Johnny 99
- Highway Patrolman
- State Trooper
- Used Cars
- Open All Night
- My Father's House
- Reason To Believe
Just before Christmas 1981, Mike Batlan, Springsteen’s guitar technician, helped setup a home recording studio in the spare bedroom of his place in Colts Neck, New Jersey, making a few minor acoustic modifications to the room itself and installing Series 144 Teac Tascom 4-track recorder, as well as two microphones and stands. With four tracks, Springsteen could fill out his demos a bit more, recording himself in stereo first, but singing or playing along with that base track on the two that remained. Under these conditions, he was his own recording engineer, mixing the sound through an old Gibson Echoplex and using a Panasonic boom box as a mix-down deck.
The result was something that sounded very much like the discarded 1975 acoustic version of “Thunder Road”, with its haunting double-tracked vocal. In Songs, Springsteen would later claim that he wanted to record this way because he “found the atmosphere in the studio to be sterile and isolating,” sitting alone for hours on end in the middle of the night. Springsteen was recording songs about estrangement and isolation under what may have been the most solitary conditions he had ever known. Under these conditions, he achieved total artistic control, but it was at the cost of his community of fellow musicians, the E Street Band. He would later convene them at the end of April 1982 at The Power Station, with full band arrangements of these songs, but in the end, only three would see the light of day.
After at least one trial run with the new equipment (during which he sang harmony with himself on the white gospel standard “Precious Memories”), Springsteen and Batlan were good to go. According to legend, on the night of January 3, 1982, Springsteen recorded fourteen new songs for Jon Landau, purposefully omitting half a dozen songs that he knew he wanted to work out in more detail with the band. Only about half the songs he recorded that night were about criminals; the songs were more about people who felt cut off from the society in which they lived. Over half the tracks he recorded that night were based in country music, and many of the rest in rockabilly.
"But dad i’m not real sorry for what i did cause for the first time me and Caril have more fun." - Charles Starkweather, while in his prison cell awaiting transfer back to Nebraska, in a letter to his parents.
“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." - Bruce Springsteen, "Nebraska".
The title track, "Nebraska", was based on the story of Charles Starkweather, who at the age of 16, embarked on a murder spree with his girlfriend, Caril Fugate, in the late 1950s. He called the song "Starkweather", and wrote it from Starkweather’s perspective, without judgment, in early December. On this night, he recorded it first, with four takes, and later, after choosing take 4, he made four alternate mixes. He followed with State Trooper (five takes), Wanda (later renamed "Open All Night"), Johnny 99, Deputy (Highway Patrolman), Pink Cadillac, Downbound Train, Mansion On the Hill, Atlantic City, Born In the U.S.A., The Answer (Losin' Kind), Used Cars, Reason To Believe and Child Bride.