Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska


I saw her standing on her front lawn just twirlin her baton/ Me and her went for a ride sir and ten innocent people died...


I've seen this album described, half-jokingly, as Springsteen's emo record. If you've already heard Nebraska, you might just understand that. Emo like Moss Icon at their most repetitively circular and dirge-like, perhaps, or Hoover in one of their most pyschologically anguished ultra-quiet build-ups. You see, Bruce brings a lot of emotion to this recording, but it's not the heart-on-sleeve, slightly melancholy exuberance of Born to Run - instead, it's a catalogue of despair and brooding, incipient sadness. Often, it's not merely 'eerily' quiet, it's goddamn scarily quiet.


Mister state trooper, please don't stop me...


In fact, there's a different niche of punk that this album takes its influence: Suicide. Springsteen was a big fan of the no-wave New York minimalist duo, and presumably still is, since they continue to put out some very good stuff. Not only is their a sonic affinity audible in the sparse, empty arrangement of the album as whole, but one song - 'State Trooper' - is a direct homage to classic '77 Suicide. The same hollowed-out motorycle-engine beats, the same tense vocal delivery. It's not quite as terrifying as 'Frankie Teardrop', but it comes close.


I got debts that no honest man can pay...


If Kerosene 454 is a "temple" to the DC guitar sound, Nebraska is equally - if inversely - monumental to the Springsteen sound. Listen to 'Atlantic City' and it follows the familiar curve, except the song stays mostly subdued and hollowly, painfully empty. Springsteen always was a Dylanite, and the harmonica is prominent here, but it sounds like a voice from another room. The folksy singing and the lulling, melodic guitar licks are there too, but hovering just above silence. The voice or the harmonica swells, a haunting backing vocal intrudes, the guitar strumming gains some insistence, but still 9/10ths of this recording still sounds like lonely emptiness. Nebraska is a cold, black quietness largely uninterrupted by anything other than deeply human pain.


Well now, everything dies, baby, that's a fact/But maybe everything that dies someday comes back...


Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

4 comments:

sweet baby jaysus said...

they don't call him the boss for nothing. bruce has played an integral part in the soundtrack to this tour. gotta love it.

gabbagabbahey said...

good to hear it! I doubt if it was this album though...

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Jerry OX said...

a wonderful record !