Nebraska

Everything Dies, Baby, That's a Fact

Song: Atlantic City
Album: Nebraska
Year: 1982

Okay, we've got the mob, a crummy town, and desperate people, and public transportation gets a shout-out. This is basically a Bruce Springsteen Mad Lib. Another convention I'm noticing pop up a lot is B instructing people how to get dressed. In the last song, you had to put on a coat while he got his hat. Here, we're supposed to put our makeup on and fix our hair up pretty. Maybe that's why they call him the Boss: because he's so CONTROLLING sometimes. CHILL OUT, BRUCE! MY BODY, MY CHOICE!

"Atlantic City" is a great song, which is probably why like 30 different bands (among them, the Counting Crows) have covered it. It's basically a mini movie! It's very depressing and also there's an explosion—key components to any Oscar-winning script. Boardwalk Empire, another Atlantic City-themed media property, would've been greatly improved by an infusion of Bruce's poetic drama. Imagine what the show could've accomplished had HBO put him at the helm. Also, imagine that while working on the show, he and Steve Buscemi became best friends and the media started calling them "Steve Bruce-cemi" or "Bruce Springsteve Buscemi." Just. Imagine.

Just a candid picture of two great pals after an awesome day out on their dune buggies!!!!!
Just a candid picture of two great pals after an awesome day out on their dune buggies!!!!!

Rating: 8 chicken men out of 10.

This song makes me feel: sooooo melancholy. I'm beginning to think Nebraska isn't exactly a party album.

Fun Bruce Fact: Apparently Ryan Adams' cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 took its sonic inspiration from Nebraska, as if there wasn't enough to love about it already. Careful you're not flying a little too close to the sun, Adams.

 

There's Just a Meanness in This World

Song: Nebraska
Album: Nebraska
Year: 1982

Another song about murder! I'm beginning to think maybe Bruce has some skeletons in his closet (from the people he murdered, let me be perfectly clear). It starts off with a fun harmonica but then it's revealed that the narrator of this song is about to be executed so that's a bit of a bait and switch. Although I guess harmonica is sort of the unofficial instrument of prison, and I really should have expected this from the get-go.

Okay, just did a little research and It turns out this song is about the true story of a teenage serial killer in the '50s. He was 19 and had a 14-year-old girlfriend (so I think we all should've seen his creep factor even before all the sawed-off-shotgun stuff came into play) and basically he killed her family and then the two of them went on an additional killing spree and stole a bunch of cars because they were terrible problem solvers. I did not expect to be learning so much about American true crime with this music project, but life is full of surprises.

Starkweather
Starkweather

Rating: 6 harmonica solos out of 10.This makes me feel: like I'm sitting next to a campfire in the desert trying not to think about all that's lurking in the darkness around us (murderers). Fun Bruce fact!: He recorded this whole album by himself on a cassette tape. NO BIGGIE.