Nebraska is an extremely dark song. Actually, the entire Nebraska album is dark…really dark.
The story Bruce tells in the title track is so sad and unfortunately, it’s based on truth. It’s about several murders in 1958 Nebraska by a 19-year-old gunman. Bruce tries to capture the emotions of the serial killer. The lyrics are haunting and creepy.
The song’s character admits to having fun on a killing spree and then shows no remorse. To make it even more pathetic…the absolutely sick individual wants his girlfriend to watch when the Sheriff pulls the switch and snaps his head back.
Despite all the darkness, fans and music critics agree that Nebraska the song and album is some of Bruce’s most brilliant work. As an artist, Bruce showed no hesitation to take on the role of evil characters and dip into their core.
Not only are the lyrics brilliant but also the way Bruce actually recorded the album is simply mind-blowing. The legendary story goes something like this…he recorded the songs by himself, at his house, and with a 4-track recorder. Unbelievable! The entire album truly consists of original demo cuts.
E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt told Rolling Stone magazine how Nebraska was “born.”
“ I remember him playing them for me one day and said, ‘Here’s my new songs. We’ll start rehearsing them as a band soon.’ And I listened to this thing and I thought to myself, ‘I gotta say there’s something extraordinary about this.’ There was no intention of it being a record and no intention of it being released, but there was something just extraordinarily intimate about it. And I thought ‘What a wonderful moment has been captured here just accidentally.’ And I said to him, ‘Listen, I know this is a bit strange but I honestly think this is an album unto itself and I think you should release it.’ And he was like, ‘what do you mean? It’s just demos for the band.’ And I’m like ‘I know you didn’t intend for this to be recorded but I just know greatness when I hear it, okay? And this deserves to be heard I think people will love it and I think it’s a unique opportunity to actually release something absurdly intimate.’”
The story of how the Nebraska album came to life is powerful. Although the songs are rather scary, they’re so creative and special. Once again Bruce raises the bar as a musician and lyricist. He proves he’s in touch with reality. The lyric he uses to end Nebraska sums up the harsh possibilities in life.
I guess there’s just a meanness in this world
I’m more of a pessimist than optimist. I guess that’s why I can connect to Bruce’s angry and dark side. However, in an effort to raise my bar of creativity and storytelling, I’m going to use a lyric from the morbid song, Nebraska to share a happy part of my childhood. I’m twisted, I know but I’m always finding inspiration and ways to express myself thanks to Bruce.
I saw her standin’ on her front lawn just twirlin’ her baton
Bruce Springsteen 1982
Now that I’m raising my own children, I’ve realized that as a parent I’m trying to offer opportunities to them that I may have wanted for myself or wished I had pursued further.
I have several regrets and without a doubt, one of them is not being able to play an instrument. So surprise, surprise my three sons take music lessons. Thankfully, my kids are musically inclined and enjoy their lessons. I don’t believe in forcing children to play a sport or participate in an activity if they don’t have any interest whatsoever. I must admit that I’m loving and living my lost opportunity through my sons. For the record, my parents offered piano lessons and I took them. It was only for a brief period of time and sadly, it just didn’t work out for me. I was born to dance to the music not create the music.
When I look back at my childhood, I only fully understand now why my mom enrolled me in dance, drama, and baton twirling lessons. My mom did everything for me (and still does) but the one thing she was determined to give me was confidence and a taste of show business.
When it comes to dancing or public speaking, my mom is a lost soul and terrified. She seems to believe that she has no rhythm and can’t dance. She refuses to get onto the dance floor at any festive event. As for public speaking or even making a speech at a family function, forget it! She trembles and has stage fright to the highest possible degree.
So as soon as I was potty-trained, my mom put me in tap and ballet shoes. As soon as I was old enough to take drama classes, I was acting and memorizing lines in local productions.
Just twirlin her baton…
In 1979 I met one of the most wonderful people ever thanks to a baton! Gale introduced dance and baton twirling to the Fort Lee Recreation Department. Not surprisingly, my mom signed me up for lessons.
Instantly, I was enamored with the combination of dance moves while twirling around a baton. From 1979 until 1987, I was a competitive dance twirler and a member of the Galaxies. Gale was my amazing coach and I spent more time with her than my own mother. I trained constantly. We practiced six days a week for a minimum of four hours. It was intense. We competed on a state, regional, and national level.
Over the years we travelled to Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Indiana. We even performed at Sea World in Orlando, Florida for thousands of tourists. Other incredible performance experiences included performing at halftime for the then New Jersey Nets and in between double headers for the New York Mets. Let me tell you…performing in front of 20 thousand people is a huge rush! Love it! Yes, in the dance/twirl world, the Galaxies were big time and under bright lights.
Without sounding too obnoxious, I must admit we were state, regional, and national champions for ten years in a row. Yes, we were that good! Gale was the best and most talented coach and choreographer ever.
My experience and years as a Galaxy meant more than just twirling a baton. I made lifelong friendships. I learned the true meaning of commitment, teamwork and hard work. And of course, Gale still means the world to me. We chat often and I never miss a chance to tell her that she made my life better. I hold so much respect for her. Gale was such a positive force and role model. I’m grateful to call my former coach and mentor… my friend.