Bruce Springsteen’s 40 greatest songs

An all-star cast pick The Boss' best moments…

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7 Nebraska
Title track of 1982 album

HOWE GELB: I can’t find my copy of Nebraska, but I used to listen to it all the time when I was growing up and I loved the way the whole album was like one long, well thought-out song. Another thing that hooked me was the production – it’s so raw and minimal, it’s like listening to someone’s demo tape. What else do you need? I also love the cheap echo and the vocals on the title track.
JOHN CONVERTINO: The first time I put Nebraska on the turntable I was completely shocked. The whole record was so unique and mesmerising I ended up playing it non-stop for several months. I haven’t listened to it for a while now, but the last time I heard it, it hadn’t lost any of its unique qualities… I know individual songs have different themes and melodies, but I can’t choose a favourite or distinguish between them. For me, they’re all equally memorable.
DAN BERN: Bleakness personified. A great story in a few words.
RUSSELL SIMINS: Nebraska has been on my record player so many times over the past 20 years, I’ve had to buy extra copies. Like The River and Born To Run, it covers a wide range of emotions from loneliness to loyalty in a really convincing way. The production on that record is flawless and the whole idea of recording it in his home studio with no other band members was just genius. It’s definitely Springsteen’s most punk record and, 20 years later, the title track still sounds as bleak and brutal and beautiful. People who think Springsteen is too corny or anthemic should be forced to listen to Nebraska from start to finish.
JIM SCLAVUNOS: I know Nebraska is really bleak and stark and minimal, but I think it was criminal how little attention it received upon its release. I guess a ⌦lot of people that would have liked its rawness were probably turned off by the fact it was Bruce, while the hardcore fans wanted another Born To Run. I still listen to it occasionally and the scope of music he covers is inspiring: one minute he sounds like Woody Guthrie or Dylan, the next John Lee Hooker. It’s not that the chord changes are really inventive or catchy – the whole thing just sort of hums along in a really compelling way.
JOHN BRAMWELL: The production on Nebraska really grates on me, but I still think it was the first deliberately lo-fi album. I don’t listen to it as much as I used to, but the thing I remember most clearly about it is the whole album sounds like one long song. It’s so strong and self-assured that it sounds like Springsteen knew he was writing something that would still be played decades on. I saw an interview with him on TV a few years ago and he said writing Nebraska was like crossing the desert and standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up. I know he was already a big star by that point, but that record seemed to be about him looking round and taking stock of everything. I’m also a big fan of the cover of Nebraska, because I think the car window is a metaphor for a cinema screen.


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