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Nebraska Transcript

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Music Rewind welcomes Bruce Carlson to discuss Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen. A great conversation about the classic Bruce Springsteen album: Nebraska


Album: Nebraska

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

Year: 1982


Our Guest, Bruce Carlson, is the host of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics Podcast. Myhistorycanbeatupyourpolitics.com IG: @myhistorycanbeatupyourpolitics Twitter: @myhist


Transcript as follows: Participant #1:

Hello, and welcome to season two of Music Rewind, a podcast where we look to tell the stories behind our favorite albums. I'm your host, Steve Epley, and in each episode, I will invite a guest on them to tell us about their favorite music album, how they discovered it, and what makes it special to them. Today, I have the honor of speaking with a fellow podcaster, Bruce Carlson. Bruce is the host of the podcast My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, a show that looks at history and applies to current events, how past events can repeat in different contexts, and how lessons learned or unlearned impact us today. Today is a special treat for me because Bruce's show is one that I've listened to and enjoyed for many years, and he has been an unknown podcast mentor to me. Welcome, Bruce, and thank you for being on the show. Well, thanks. It's great to be on. Appreciate it. And good luck with this podcast. Thank you. And for those that haven't found Bruce's, please check that one out. I highly, highly recommend it. All right, Bruce, let's jump right into this. What album would you like to bring to the table and why is it special to you? Sure. It's Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska,


Participant #1:

probably, and it may be one of the reasons I like it. Half the people that are Springsteen fans, even or somewhat Springsteen fans are going to say, which album Nebraska? I never heard of it. And that's kind of the reason I like it, among many other things, it is not his most well known album. A lot of fans think it's his best. That's a hard one with Springsteen to me, what's actually best. But it's a very good album and I like listening to it, particularly for me, it has mostly been on cassette and now recently on an MP3 format, but it's always been kind of a cassette album for me. It's got some great Jersey country dark songs, and it's just different from a lot of what Springsteen has done, but not completely different. And it's different from the music that came out at the time, and it's just a different album from a lot of other albums. Yeah, this one kind of threw me. I was not expecting this album at all. And it's definitely a different take on the Bruce that I've listened to and seen live. I didn't get a chance to see Springsteen live, and the only song that I knew of this was Atlantic City, and I didn't know that's where it came from. Yeah, Atlantic City is probably and it's a great moment in the album between Nebraska, the song Nebraska and Atlantic City. That moment where Atlantic City kicks off is a good moment, especially when people talk about why you listen to a whole album versus, like, a song after you've heard Nebraska. Like, Atlantic City has a new meeting. It's a great bell ringing song. It's the faster song it's a song where you can imagine, and I know there has been recordings and performances, you can imagine a full band in it, but in this song, there is no full band. In fact, it is technically Bruce Springsteen's first solo album. Yeah, there's no East Street Band on this at all. No East Street bands, no Clarence, no saxophone. And of course, that could be considered a negative because Clarence is great and Bruce's kind of secret Motown or asbury soul side of him really brings a lot to his music. And in this way it's shared with like, Darkness in the Edge of Town album. There is none of that. It is very plain and it's a solo album, but it's kind of an unintentional solo album in that it was a demo that Springsteen just decided between he and one of his producers, we're just going to release this. This needs to be this, this demo tape that I'm holding in my pocket. And literally, this is the whole story of Nebraska that just makes it even more interesting the more you learn about it. Like you listen to the album and then if you learn the story behind the album, there's even more interest, particularly if one is a Springsteen fan, that he had this demo tape in his pocket for weeks, just did not follow any of the recording procedures, recorded it on a small portable recorder and then treated this tape horribly. But in that process, it kind of added to the rawness of the sound. And that's when they decided that it was just supposed to be a demo and the East Street Band was going to record it and they decided to release it as it is. So he didn't rerecord what was on the demo, just solo. They took that demo as is that's right? Yeah. In fact, the sound quality, it gives it this almost unintended, but I think in the end, Springsteen decided to, after listening and listening to this older, kind of worn out tape that it gives it this kind of dark I describe it as desaturated, just like the album covers, just this hard to see road with a car windshield. Just this kind of like to say, dark. It's beyond dark. It's the darkest. And the lyrics are dark and the stories are sometimes horrific. The first song, Right Out of the Gate, celebrates a mass murderer. Of course, that mass murderer had already been celebrated in the movie in, quote, celebrated in the movie Badlands, which Springsteen was a big movie watcher. And he's always trying to create a movie type sound with his album. So no surprise he picked up on that. But it is a dark story. And that sound, the way the demo tape plays, gives us this kind of fuzzy sound, this kind of like haunting sound he did use. It had just been invented at the time. And this album is recorded in 1982. It just been invented where they had a portable recorder that wasn't a real to reel, that wasn't a special type of tape. It was a regular, standard cassette tape. And that's what he used when they go to cut the record later. The record company nearly could not release this as a vinyl album because to do that, you have to actually cut into the master record and all they had was this cassette tape and the sound of resolution is so low that they were having trouble cutting into the record. And only, I believe they found some older system in the basement or something that was able to do the recording because otherwise this was almost released as a cassette tape. Only now, for me, that's the way I listen to it most of the time, either in a car or on a cassette walkman. Anyway. No. You're from Jersey, right? I am from Jersey, yes. So you were raised on Bruce Springsteen since the beginning, I assume. I was, yeah. There's no doubt about it. It's real. There's no phony business about that in New Jersey. We really do. I mean, I'm sure there's people that don't like him, but generally speaking, yeah, he's definitely like a state treasure, there's no doubt about it. And this is a good time period to talk about because this is before a super starter. Nebraska, you're Coming off the river album. Yes. Born To Run was a huge hit, but Born To Run was kind of just a hit like any other in the middle of the 70s. It didn't make Springsteen a superstar. He got a lot of attention from it and it was a big song and the album performed well. But I don't think you would say superstar until you're getting born in the USA. This is the album before Born in the USA. Indeed. Out of this process comes Born in the USA because this was a song that would have been included on Nebraska. He actually recorded it on that recorder that remained a demo, didn't make this album. But the rest of the songs, I think they're almost a dozen recorded the rest of the songs. They decided, yeah, we got to release this as it is because if we put the band behind it, it's going to lose some of the haunting, some of the bluesy nature, the folky nature of it, and just Springsteen, his voice, his harmonica, a light guitar, sometimes two guitars, not on all the songs, even. Sometimes it's one guitar. And that connection between Springsteen and the audience, that's huge. But, yeah, Jersey, we love them. I wouldn't say that Nebraska is the album that everyone's talking about in New Jersey. First of all, the title is Nebraska, right? Yeah. That would throw some people. And it really is a misnomer because it's because of the first track that it's called Nebraska. And I also think it's some vague reference on Springsteen. Spark lake a place far away down the road it's definitely a Jersey person's version of Nebraska on this album. Right. There's only about one or two songs that I could say exist in kind of a country atmosphere, like maybe My Father's House and Mansion on the Hill, highway Patrolman. Because we don't use that. We use State Trooper in New Jersey, not Highway Patrolman. So there's a couple of references that, okay, it's out there. But I think what you got to think about is the Jersey person's version of What's Far Away? Like, if I went on a road trip, it's like Nebraska. And then also the songs are all most of the songs and the lyrics are totally Jersey. There's a couple that take place that name drop. Michigan, I think, is Highway Patrolman. Yeah. Michigan or Ohio one of the two. Because he talks about being on the Michigan line, Bruce, as the folk singer, these album or these songs, they invoked this image to me of a roadside bar with a guy in the corner. Maybe you're paying attention to him, maybe you're not. But he's singing these songs, and that's the atmosphere. Whether anyone's paying attention to him or not. He's there to tell these stories and it's up to the listener to pay attention. I agree. And it's intimate. It's you and Springsteen. And I think I believe that's what's behind his decision, which in 1982, right. Remember, this is the new wave era. This is when you're hearing synth pop songs and some rock and roll and blondie and punk and things that are starting to pump new waves starting to go goes the Police, things like this. Bruce Springsteen nebraska is definitely counter to all of us. It's very intimate. It's you and him. And then he's telling these desperate stories. And I think he decided that if he added a saxophone, he'd lose that, right. He'd lose that connection between you and him. And there's no one at the bar except for you and the singer, a few people, and you're eating the peanuts and drinking the beer. And the songs convey that it's bluesy in its own way. And that's why I like the album. I think it's like, just like, why would anybody listen to anything depressing? Right. Well, what's blues about? Why do we have blues? Right? And it's the same effect, I believe, with Nebraska. I just think sometimes, riding on the road, maybe you have a bad day or something. Surprisingly enough, an album about a person singing about bad things is a little cathartic. That's what I find. Yeah. And there's definitely not a lot of hope on this album. The tales are dark. They're depressing. If you are paying attention to the lyrics. There's a lot of residents regarding poverty and desperation, people at the end of their line, and they have to make decisions because of that. Yeah. And I can put my History of Your Politics hat on a bit. This does exist in a context. This is the 1982 recession. It really is the tail end of 81. Some called the Reagan recession and at the time it was called that clouded because the economy is going to get better later. But at the time nobody knows that. And when he's recording this, it's picked up in the lyrics there's a lot of factories closing. It was a big blue collar recession and really it was damaging because I was just looking at it's funny. In preparation for the Music Rewind podcast, I was looking at some economic tables, but I was looking at GDP growth 1960 to 2008. It is the biggest drop down in GDP growth until you get to the 2008 session. This quick little and again, though, it was more damaging for a lot of people because they lost union and blue collar jobs that aren't necessarily factory worker becomes a security guard type thing. So it was a very damaging recession and he's putting that into this music. It's very dark. So the people that he might have sang about in the 70s, like if he's singing about factory workers in Darkness on the Edge of Town already a kind of dark album. Now I think it goes from dark to desperate between that like Born to Run, born to Run, it's kind of like let's escape, let's have fun, let's hit the road. Darkness on the Edge of Town is kind of like, okay, I'm going to talk a little bit about the working life and its bad sides and things. But they're working. By the time you get to Nebraska, it's like you got a guy that auto plant shuts down. If you're looking at the Johnny 99 song, auto plant shuts down. So he turns into a life of crime and then ends up being on Murderers Rose. So I think it is in a context, he didn't want that colored version of America that was happening in the age, in fact, one of the Iron Ages. He writes Ford to Run. They released it in 1984 as an album much more dressed up than this album that gets used by the Reagan campaign and other people. It's definitely used as a pro American song and Springsteen looks at it like, they're not listening to my lyrics. This is a guy about a distraught Vietnam vet. But it didn't matter because the music sold that image in that album. This album wouldn't perform that function. So he is being political, as Springsteen is known to do, and really has spent his entire career he is being a little political in 1982, just playing against that type. So you mentioned that you listened to it on cassette. That evokes. You have to kind of listen to it straight through. But walk me through the album from your point of view. Do you skip around now with the ability to select tracks or do you still just go straight through? Yeah, I think I try not to. I will listen to Atlantic city and State Trooper as separate singles from time to time. I think those two songs have the half to kind of survive. I think Nebraska in particular loses something if you do. I think all albums do, right? Not to go on a tangent, but I would say the same thing about Fleetwood, Macro, Rumors or even the Joshua Tree. You got to listen to albums they're intended. One thing that he does is slow song, fast song, slow song, fast song. And that stays through the album. So Nebraska is slow. Atlantic City is yeah, you're right. So then he slows you down with Mansion, he speeds you up with Johnny, slows you down with High Rate Patrolman. And there's an effect there. It's definitely easing. Some of you don't want to lose the listeners attention with too much slow. I don't want to say the songs get hopeful just because they're fast, because they actually don't. But I think you have to listen to Nebraska and then be brought into that moment of Atlantic City with that ringing bell acoustic guitar and that little bit of dubbed guitar and dubbed vocals and just Springsteen manipulating his voice or adopting a voice of a more desperate person


Participant #1:

when he sings in Thunder Road, when he sings in Born to Run or Jungle Land, that is a confident speaker. He's 25 years old, but it's like this really confident voice that sounds like 50 or something. And when you get to this album, his voice betrays on purpose, I believe. A little edginess, little concern. That Atlantic City narrator and again, one thing I think it's important for people who understand that song is we're talking about 1982. They just started gambling, Atlantic City. There was a lot of mob connections going on. There were shootings and there was gangland fighting. The song opens up. They blew up the chicken man in Philly last night. That refers to a real mob hit that occurred in Philadelphia. The guy that was the chicken man in Philly last night.


Participant #1:

The construction contracts with the new casinos in Atlantic City caused a huge increase in mob violence and in mob taking over of Atlantic City. So it's a much more desperate place. A lot of people now say Atlantic City, and if they're from my area, it's like, oh, it's a fun place to go, and I like to go to the casinos and bet and stuff and flashing lights. Now, it had about two or three working casinos at that point. It was still a very a lot of places had shuttered at that point that he's writing it. So it's a desperate song about a desperate place in a desperate man as well, because the story is that at, the guy singing that song ends up working for the Mafia. The way I listen to it, that's his only choice to make any money. And there's a great I can't ever get away from history and politics, but there's a great right at the time this album is coming out. So Atlantic City gets this mayor. This guy, he came from nowhere. He was nowhere in the polls. And all of a sudden, within a month or so, he becomes the mayor of Atlantic City. He skyrockets and wins the election. Of course he's sounds legit. Yeah, of course. He's got mobs, and he lets the mob do whatever they want. They pretty quickly put him in jail. Probably by the time he's already being arrested and many Atlantic City mayors will go to jail. It's a tale. All that happens there. So it's a desperate. Yeah, exactly. It's a desperate's not a person that narrator that's like, I want to have this quick trip and put on your dress, but we got to go quick, and I don't have a lot of money, and I'm doing this job that I don't want to do, which sounds like it's a hit of some kind. You just got a hands at it.


Participant #1:

I thought you were about to tell me there's a politician in Atlanta City that used this song to campaign on without paying attention to it. Sir. No, I mean, Bruce did try to do he did do an MTV video there. Again, totally playing against the times. Springsteen releases a video. It's all black and white, and it's got pictures of Atlantic City, which at the time wouldn't have very much going on there. It's pretty much like empty shuttered hotels on the beach. And that's what he uses for his video. Totally up against, like, AHA and other bands that are doing these bright and very fast moving music synth videos. So I find that funny. But, yeah, desperation is a key theme of this. Like, I see that in Johnny 99


Participant #1:

guys go to the judge and asking like, I don't want a life sentence. I don't want 99 years. I want the death penalty. Highway Patrolman, where there's a desperate story that the highway patrolman, who is obviously enforcing the law yeah, that's all with his brother, right?


Participant #1:

Yeah. He has to free his brother and then let his brother run away. State troopers got, like, one of the best lines. I think it's just New Jersey Turnpike riding on a wet night. Neath. The refinery glow out where the great black rivers flow.


Participant #1:

This whole album and a lot of spring seats, particularly this album. You grew up in Jersey and you're riding around in your car at night. I know there's got to be other states that are similar, so I don't want to be like, so Jersey centric like that. But there's something about Jersey because it's always, and even at this time been densely populated. While you might get industrial in a lot of states, it's packed and there's a lot of lights and things like that. The refinery between near Newark Airport as far as something that a lot of visitors see, this huge glow that lights up the turnpike the Black Rivers. I don't know. The rivers are not in places where factories are or were at the time recording and they're not great water quality, let's just say. But then he says, License, registration, I ain't got none, but I got a clear conscience about the things that I've done. And it's just like the Jersey. A guy driving on the turn, he doesn't want to stay Trooper to stop them. That's the key to this. Please don't stop me. And I think it's just like, hey, we may not all have the secret that this guy's had, but I think a lot of times riding on that turn bike, we got a lot of cops in New Jersey. Between the towns and the state Trooper, there's a lot of personnel. It's pretty common to see cops out there. You're always kind of like, Oh, my speeding. I don't want this guy to see me. So they're very Jersey for anybody in Jersey. The songs, the lyrics do hit as desperate as they are. And there's also, I think, some auto biographical stuff, very personal to produce, such as used cars, where he's never going to buy a used car again. Making a promise to himself for the future. Yeah, I think everything's a little personal with Bruce Springsteen. I do believe that he writes everything you got to think of is like images that he creates,


Participant #1:

the seals,


Participant #1:

the sound picture. He's always making the soundtrack to a movie that hasn't been released yet. In the case of Nebraska, it was a movie and he rewrote the words and rewrote the music to it and rewrote the story in his own images. It's rarely deep. It's not like you're going have to pull out and I don't want to get the wrong impression, like, it's very smart lyrics. It's very impressive, it's very clever. But what I mean is, you're not going to open up the Bible or a lot of literature to read Springsteen to read into his lyrics. Dylan has a big influence on it, but Springsteen is not Dylan. Springsteen, really? You should be able to get it. Really? What are you saying? There's usually not too much there. And so things like with used cars, it's just kind of I love this line where the family is at the used car dealership. But it's like my mom, she fingers her wedding band and watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands he's telling us about the break he'd give us if he could, but he just can't. Well, if I could, I swear I know just what I do you don't need a lecture on poverty or class in America to understand those lyrics. And I come from a family that's maybe not at that quite level, but we weren't too far. A lot of used cars in my family. I don't think we ever were saying, like, we'll never get another used but it's definitely that salesman stare at my old man's hands. There's just nothing you can do. It's desperate and I think that's very personal. It's a good song. And then My Father's House is another one. Yeah, very personal. His voice is almost like he has a cold or something. He's really gravely in that voice to give this impression that it's a and it's only a light guitar, so it's just him and you and the guitar. Broke through the trees and there in the night my father's house shining hard and bright I think he's talking about his father's house and the distance and a dream and that was one where when I first was listening to album, you had asked earlier about cassette tape listening and I did fast forward sometimes. I mean, there wasn't always you don't have to do the straight, you can fast forward, you can flip the cassette to the other side with the cassette walkman and those type of things. There was a time I re picked up the cassette again and it being in like 2019 in New York City and having a cassette walkman and people are amazed. It's like having some magic device when you do that, when you take a set out and flip it to the other side, it's amazing. But you could do things like that. And I might have fast forwarded this song as I learned more about Bruce Springsteen's story and realized the problems he had with his father and his bruce Springsteen had depression. His father obviously had depression. By Springsteen's own account, Springsteen's father was just a person. It wasn't like that. As far as I know, they hit him or anything like that. He was a guy that would make a negative comment every time he was drinking, like, six pack of beer in a day in the house. Springsteen coming, oh, you got that guitar again. It's just a very negative influence in his life. Never happy, never satisfied. Brinkstein becomes famous, ends up setting them up, I think, in California, him and the mother. There's no, thank you. There's just nothing from the father. It's like finally, towards the end of his father's life at this point, springsteen is Born To Run has been put out. Springsteen is a superstar. The father said something to the effect like, yeah, I guess you did pretty well for yourself and I didn't really do that much for you. And that struggle with you just not getting anything back and that gave me a new appreciation for My Father's House, what's in there. Because otherwise you might think it's dillanesque, maybe it's deeply symbolic and there's maybe some biblical it could be a little bit of that there. But really I think it is personal story. No, I think it's a good comparison as far as at least an influence from Dylan, but Dylan always had two or three meanings of subtext with his words and his different types of poetry, whereas this definitely feels more raw and just. He's putting it all out there on the surface, I think Springsteen gives you pictures. He gives you pictures. Gives you images. That Open All Night is a goodie there. It's like that would have been one of them. When I first started listening, it's like, okay, let me fast forward to State Trooper. That's the song I like. But eventually you start appreciating albums as Al. And that Open All Night, that lick in the beginning. It's the only one with an electric guitar. That is an electric guitar.


Participant #1:

This one is the only upbeat. It is almost happy. This is where the desperation is hinted at a bit. But he's excited about seeing his girlfriend, the narrator who works at the Big Boy at the rest stop on the Jersey turn bike. And I love it. It's like behind the counter, root 60s bob big Boy fried chicken on the front seat. She's sitting on my lap. We're wiping our fingers on a Texaco roadmap. I just love it. The image is great. That's all it is. I don't think there's a lot deep stuff there with Springsteen. He changes lyrics a lot. He had notebooks full of lyrics. There's repeat lyrics in some of these songs. And he did that on the river, and he did that in a lot of places. I did notice that, like, weary eyes jumped out at me. A couple of tracks. Yeah, the Radio Relay Towers, which is who drives in New Jersey doesn't see radio relay towers all around. Little red lights blinking the top of them and stuff. And he's got that in a couple of songs. And I don't think that see again, that's where I really and I could be wrong, but some things I've heard him say and what he is important to him is this kind of sound picture like this making a movie out of the album in your head. And he and the East Street Band members and his friends would go to a ton of movies, he said, Really? Like reading books. He read a lot of books. He took a creative writing class in college. But I think, again, I wouldn't dig out the Milton and Shakespeare and stuff and start looking for references. With Springsteen, you should get it. It's there. He just wants to throw a lot of images and nobody does it better where he comes up with this stuff. Well, I know we're a little more now because he just had notebooks and notebooks and notebooks and kept for all of these songs. They're somewhere a pile of notebooks with words that he didn't use. I do know that partially this album was influenced by a book by historian Howard Zinn, a People's History of the United States. So that was non autobiographical stuff. Probably at least sparked some of the stories there. Yeah, where we gave him that perspective of where the point of view to put the point of view on the people, the average, everyday people, instead of just talking about big things or talking about a country as a whole, talking about individual stories. He's got that one at the end, the reasonable belief, which I think is, again, when you look at the way the album goes and it's kind of like Nebraska just put you that harmonica kind of puts you in a kind of good mood. And if you didn't know what the lyrics were about, nebraska would put you in this great mood. It's just a great kind of folksy song. And then hit you with Atlantic City and the ringing guitar, very well played acoustic guitar. And then Mansion is slower, johnny 99 Highway Patrol and slower. State Trooper kind of in the middle, but it's got to be used. Car slower. And then Open all night as a shuffle. My Father's House is a reggio folk song. And then you get to reason and believe it. It's just that little whip of the harmonica and a little we're getting back into a shuffle again with the harmonica and that everybody has a reason to believe. The lyrics are depressing, but at the end, everybody's got a reason to believe. And it's a great ending for all of the bad stuff that has happened in the album.


Participant #1:

Just like the narrator in Atlantic City. These guys are so they're not in control of their destiny, probably just like the people in Zinn's book and in the way approaches history. And just like the 1000 1982 recession of what was happening to blue collar workers, they're not in control of their destiny. But somehow even these characters still make little statements like maybe everything dies some day comes back in the end of every hard earned day, people still find a reason to believe. And I think, look, I'll go back to it like, why listen to blues music? Why would we do that to ourselves, right? If it's not cathartic? Was this album popular in Jersey when it came out? No, I wouldn't say that. This album was super popular. It was released. Atlantic City and State Trooper were singles and they had some truth success. This sold a lot less than any of the other albums. The way they market it was on the vinyl album in the store. It had a little sticker that said Bruce Springsteen's first solo album. I do not think that was Springsteen's idea to do it that way, like to promote it that way and everything. But The River and Hungry Heart was still a much bigger hit than any of these songs. And Born To Run obviously was a much bigger hit, but Born To Run got him initial success. And then there was a big lull before he got another hit, so they were starting to get worried. So Thunder Road was on board to Run, right? Yeah. Thunder Road is another one. Yes. The album did pretty well in 75. I was young at the time, but I always remember at the Jersey Shore and stuff. There was around the time of the river. I would have been really young, but still conscious enough of this. Springsteen was kind of like a local celebrity at that point. You knew he was in the music industry and stuff. And it was like Springsteen, you know, the guy from the shore. And that changed with Born in the USA. But not the breastsque. It changed a little bit with Hungry Heart, that was a pretty big national hit. And then it changed. Was Born in the USA. Not Nebraska so much. Nebraska was I think Springsteen wanted to do this album. I was curious because if you got Thunder Road and Rosalita and those fast, almost bar tracks that are on the Jersey Shore you can picture those playing anywhere you went. Whereas this one's not really one you can put on in the background while people are having fun. It's not that type of album. Yeah, no, it's just Atlantic City, the song that got a little airplay. And they pretty quickly wanted, in fact. So Nebraska, in a way, begets Born in the USA. Because now the record companies like Bruce, come on here, we let you do your thing now. Help us out. Dancing in the Dark is kind of a direct springsteen wrote that song. He made that song. He made it sound like he did. But that's very much influenced by record company pressure. I forgot about that one. And him realizing, Okay, I need to hit here. So Dancing in the Dark on board to run is like kind of a result of what he got from the performance of Nebraska. Like, okay, but what you really are hearing is Springsteen's of two minds. You have the guy that is that Rosalita, that stage performer. And then you have, from what I understand, they took these songs and the Easter Egg Band did do some good jobs. Max Weinberg talks about they got some tapes of Nebraska. What it's like with a band. But I think Springsteen also has within them this other person. And that's what comes out of Nebraska. And certainly, if you're a fan of Springs, being a guy, it has to be given a lesson. It may not be the favorite album, but I just think it holds up well. And the Reverb from that portable recorder translated into the master tape, that Reverb is haunting and it's great on a cassette walklin with big earphones and stuff, or a car or audio system, or if you have an old stereo. I'm sure, too, that Reverb comes off really great. Not just so much on that. I did see that in hindsight, there's been a lot of accolades given to this album. It's on those lists, the thousand albums to listen to before you die sort of thing. Because it wasn't what everyone was expecting at the time. But over the years, people have definitely come and given it as due and there's a lot of tribute albums on YouTube. People have recorded the whole thing and some of them are great. I turned to some of them trying to get a YouTube of this album to listen to in the background stuff. First I was like, Oh, this is not Springsteen. Then I started listening. People have done some really good versions, adding female vocalists to the background. And I think because Springsteen gives you too little what better foundation to work with as an artist, right? And add your own to it. I've always loved the band's version of Atlantic City with Levon Helms singing and it's a Blue grassy version. I've always loved that alternate take on that. It's a fast song and you can do a lot. It has the potential to be a slamming song. And I think that probably in the works. He's doing his box sets in order. I bet you this is coming. Nebraska box set is coming. And there'll probably be some other takes that'll be really interesting to hear. He does oh, yeah. When he comes to Philly or Atlantic City, he always performs. Atlantic City makes a point of that. If he's either at the Spectrum or if he's at I don't think there's a stadium that he can pick and hold of Atlantic City. But if he's in a Spectrum in Philly yeah. Once it was like seeing a god. I was on the other side with tickets that they basically said it was the back of the stadium. In other words, you're on the other side of where he was performing. And they said, don't worry, he'll come around. And he did. He played the whole stadium in the Spectrum. And I guess the Spectrum is gone now, but it was the old arena in Philly. He was just great. I have not seen him since, but I kind of like the studio stuff, to be honest, though, I'm kind of like a I got to see him at Bonnero. He headlined in like 20 10, 20 11 somewhere in there. 2009. One of those. I went several years in a row and I didn't know what to expect. But he put on a hell of a show and you get winded watching him. He's sprinting up and down the stage and he did a fantastic thing. It was right after his Tom Joe album came out, so whenever that was and the first part of his set was all the Tom Joe stuff, which nobody was really kind of into. But for the second half of his set, he went out into the crowd and gathered up signs and then he had a stack of signs and pulled one out and it would be like Thunder Road. That's how they played his classics. Great moment, though. One of them was Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And this is June in the middle of Tennessee. So it was hot. It was like 90 deg still at 10:00 at night. And so he starts yelling at the crowd, it's too damn hot for Christmas. And as he's chastising the crowd, the piano starts in on the beginning of their version of that. It was great. It was really awesome. It was really a lot of fun to see him up there. Yeah, I do remember him saying something like, you know, somebody next to us was asking like this was a 92, I think what I saw, man, somebody next to was asking like us, oh, what's the opening band? Opening band for Bruce? And then he played for 2 hours and that's when he comes over and says, you guys feel like listen to a few more songs? I feel like playing a little bit longer. Okay. Played for like another 2 hours. Incredible, incredible guy. I think he's unique and what's the best way to say it? It's like he sings songs right now. You take it back to politics and history where there's so much talk about all the rust belt manufacturing jobs. We got to respect people with all you don't have to tell that to Springsteen. He has been singing these songs since the 70s. Some of it's based on his father's experience in his life growing up in Freehold, pretty like working class town and stuff. But he sings songs about people that others don't. And I mean, there's no album more of that than Nebraska. He connects with people in a really real way and it's especially true in Jersey. We love them in Jersey, but obviously it's not like limited to that. His songs also can reach out all around the world and enter to a lot of parts of America and still fit. And that's what I think is great. But we take him as a Jersey treasure. So Nebraska made your top spot. What albums made your shortlist? Yeah, there's a lot. I mean, it's close and so I would put a first of all, Springsteen Darkness at the Edge of Town as probably that's probably my number two spring. Even rating them are hard because they're good for different ways. But I love Darkness and I think that's another very powerful, if dark album. Obviously it's in the name not as desperate but a little bit great songs like Proof of It All Night, great stuff. A Bad Lands again singing. You obviously must have liked that movie. I'd also say the Joshua Tree. I was thinking about that when you asked me what the favorite album joshua Tree is. Very formative for me. You two, Fleetwood Mac, Rumors. I would listen to that over and over again and still do a couple of classics there. Yeah, Steely Dan, Asia, David Bowie, Ziggy Ziggy Stardust. But I would really rumors alone I could listen to for weeks. And that's another one with some fantastic backstory to the album itself. Oh, absolutely. That's another one. And even that it's generational. It has to do with a lot of it is changing from the some of the baby boomers and what kind of music they needed at that point. It has its own great story. It has some great tracks, and, yeah, somebody's got to do that one with you, but I can listen to that one again. And it's another album where if you listen to the songs independently, I don't like Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, just like I said originally, I didn't like Manchin on the Hill, but in the context of the Evan album, don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow comes alive, and so does Mansion on the Hell here in the Depression. That's a very valid point that a lot of people do miss. There's a lot of tracks that you can skip. You hear them on the radio, Let me change the channel. But when you hear that same song in the context of an album, it's there for a reason and it flows perfectly as intended. Everybody just needs cassette players. We got to go back to cassette because it really is the perfect combination, if you ask me. You are a true historian. If you want to bring back the cassette, the sound quality, I think people forget it. Cassette walkman, the way reverb sounds is like an orchestra. And all the albums I mentioned, oh, you two, War is another one that sounds great on that, but it's also that you can fast forward. So I realize we need an emergency shoot. There are some times we're not going to want to listen to the song that's next. And I get it, we're human beings. But it does make you pay for it. It's the right combination of if you want to skip the song, you're going to have to work for it. You're going to have to fast forward and wait for that tape to come. So normally you're just going to listen to it as the artist intended, which maybe there's something to that. If I think back, the first kind of cassette rock album that I got my hands on, that I kind of listened to Front Back, Front, Back over and over again, was Full Moon Fever from Tom Petty. Dad, if you're listening, I'm sorry if that particular cassette disappeared from your collection to Never be seen again. But that was one where there's all kinds of songs that you never hear on the radio, but you hear them in that album. It's almost a perfect album to me. Oh, yeah. Now, do I have that right? Is that the one with Free Fallen? Okay, yeah, that would be a great one. I think anything with a ringing is great for that. Your phone sounds and of course, there's downsides. We can't go back to cassettes because the tape gets broken and pulled out, and there are certainly downsides, and I use almost exclusively MP3 now for everything because it's just more convenient. But I will tell you, there is a sound loss, no doubt, in my mind, no matter what, you can adjust the trouble in the base. There is a sound loss. And you take an album like Abby Road, if you listen to it on vinyl, you get a different experience. You listen to it on CD or MP3, you get a different experience. For some reason, some albums, and Abbey Road always pops into my head first. It's just completely different. This is the best way I could say it. Yeah, I think there's whole genres like the country music with women's singers took off and the CD got invented because it does celebrate the higher notes a little better, where the records have kind of a warm sound, a little bit of a generalization, but sort of true. No doubt music will sound differently. Like, for instance, now, I've never heard Nebraska on an album because I wasn't listening to South Of. I was listening to this album in anywhere from 91 to 2005 to 2022. That's when I was listening. I actually haven't heard it. I believe on an album it's always been either MP3 or cassette, but I'm sure it has a different quality. Well, just so you know, my cousin wants to bring the A track back so he'll die on that hill. Hey, I had one of those a long, long time ago. But it was definitely an Ebay purchase. It wasn't in my lifetime. I wasn't around for the height of that. Similar to cassette tape in terms of quality, but also they're getting all beat up. So if you're buying a tracks off Ebay, then you're losing that. And then the only advantage is the lower integrity. Yeah, you never have to turn it off. You never have to skip or do anything. It just keeps repeating. It's kind of like a CD. That way it will play forever. Yeah, that's true. So Springsteen is an H track artist. He's an artist that would have intersected a lot of his albums. This one probably was released probably at that time. They were just probably at the end. But definitely Born to Run The River, where Atrax releases, too. You were at the time you had to release all those versions. Yeah. I got to know that this is technically the 6th studio album from Bruce, whether it's band or solo, either or, like they said, it was his first solo album, but still the 6th studio album. So he had several before this one. Yeah, the river was two records. It was double album. So The River, I think he kind of like used up a lot of his I don't want to say poppy, but there's an element of like they're pop songs on the river for the most part, and you get a hint of what's coming when Nebraska with a few songs about driving down the road and everything, or Fade to Black, but Fade Away goody. Fade Away could have made it on Nebraska, but I think that also informed his approach. I've done so much of this type of music and it's time for me to do as an artist. I think the good ones are always pushing themselves. And I heard the guy like the producer from the record company. I think Bruce was successful enough that they didn't resist Nebraska. They didn't resist his weirdo attempt to make the demo album, make it the album. They were in a mode of this guy's been relatively successful. He's growing. Let's make the artist happy. Yeah, he had some clout there to make that happen. Yeah, he did have some cloud. I mean, he had been successful enough with his contracts and Born To Run has been a huge hit and it was like, well, I think artists have to push themselves. Dylan is constantly reinventing himself, doing new things. And if he were just to make Rosalita type or even Born To Run type song look, I love Born To Run. It's an album. But there is something about Born To Run that's a little bit hyper, drive a little bit every song, like he was on purpose. That's what he was trying. That album, by the way, is a night in Asbury Park, New Jersey. All the songs is a night. Various stories of a night in ASMR, a lot of cars and engines and revving. If he did that and constantly kept doing that, if you two kept doing jingle jangle and didn't like switch to Aktong Baby and that type of stuff, these artists would never make changes. They wither away and they don't become great artists. And I think Nebraska, you see something that's very unique, maybe not even commercially successful, but it shows a change in it shows him working some things out that are going to come out. And Born in the USA, you might see it reflected a little bit in Tom Joe, like that type of approach he eventually had that I think it might have won an Oscar. The song from Philadelphia movie Streets of Philadelphia. Streets of Philadelphia. I love that song. That's a great one. That's kind of on brand with this album, really. The slower voice would have fit right in Nebraska. Ain't no angel going to greet me you and I, my friend my clothes don't fit me no more walk 1000 miles just to shift my skin I mean, I would have fit right in Nebraska. It's a great song. That's the thing. He can rock you. But behind that, I guess that's the best way to think about it, that people should understand that behind that rocker with a huge band playing for 4 hours and screaming into the microphone, there's a guy, there's an artist with a voice. And you hear it in a lot of songs. I mean, you hear it in Darkness on the Edge of Town, but you hear it really raw in Nebraska. Not every artist allows you to see that, I guess is a good way to yeah, raw is really the best way to describe it. He's putting it out there from the first I don't know which track you really first hear that on, but he has several on there where he's with the echo on the end is Yodelin. I mean, hey, that's a little bit Hank Williams. A lot of other artists, little influence on them. You add that probably some of his father's music. He can do it. And that's the great thing. Anybody who tries, like, I play a little guitar from time to time, but I can't we can maybe sing some songs. We can't yodel like him. We can't do that part of it that's a classic spring scene and adds an element of that desperation. It's country. It's country without going Nashville. It's a Jersey kind of country. It's a folk kind of music that is like the essence of the original country was to be regular people making music. And that's what he does on this album. Before we wrap this up, please tell our listeners what you are working on, where they can find you and anything you'd like to pitch. Sure. Thanks. My podcast is myhistory Can Beat Up Your Politics. We're over there at www dot my history can beat up yourpolitics.com it's politics with a funny name, but basically we don't beat up anyone. But we do try to beat up perceptions of current politics by applying historical context, what happened in the past that could inform things today. And honestly, that's what I spend most of my time doing. So if people want to see what I'm working on, we do cast almost weekly now and it's great fun. And I appreciate you being a listener. I really appreciate you having me on, too. I can't speak highly enough about that podcast. You'll learn a lot. It's really some fascinating stuff and the extra work you do on the research really comes out. It's a very well done podcast. Thank you much. I learned doing it, so if there was one listener, I would still learn a lot. It's kind of my Nebraska. There you go. That's a good way to look at it.


Participant #1:

Well, Bruce, I'd like to thank you for your time today. It was a pleasure to sit and talk with you about Springsteen's, Nebraska. Thanks for having me on. Really appreciate it. Good luck with this guest. I hope it's going to be right up there pretty soon. Music is popular. Thank you for listening to Music Rewind, a podcast from the Sidereal Media Group. As I always say, listen to the full album. Until next time,


Participant #1:

A podcast from the Sidereal Media Room. Back to you, anchors.



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