Songs: Nebraska/Atlantic City/Mansion On A Hill/Johnny 99/Highway Patrolman/State Trooper/Used Cars/Open All Night/My Father's House/Reason To Believe
Produced by: Bruce Springsteen
Thoughts: I've always thought that even if you hate Bruce Springsteen, you have to admit that Nebraska is still one of the most amazing, emotional records ever made. It's just him, a harmonica, an acoustic guitar and (one one track) an electric guitar and this sparse sound allows for none of the studio trickery of the two albums that bookend its' release (The River and Born In The USA) to overshadow the stories Springsteen tells.
The record starts with the title track, a first-person narrative about a killer having a murder spree with a girlfriend. "Atlantic City", which wasn't released as a single but is on all his hits compilations, is about a city in turmoil....and the rest of the album doesn't get much happier than that. Thankfully, the album ends with the most hopeful track, "Reason To Believe", telling us that even after all the terrible things that happened in the first nine songs on the album, there is still some hope in this world.
This album could have been built on the gimmick that it is all demoes and we probably would have been happy, but thankfully the songs are so strong, that they don't feel like demoes. As song or two in, and you start believing that Springsteen never thought for a second that taking these songs to the E Street Band was necessary. Thankfully, he didn't...otherwise, we'd have another set of "Hungry Heart"s.