Heart of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, book review

Heart of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska
Heart of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska

In 1980 Bruce Springsteen released his most commercially successful album to date.  ‘The River’ was a double-album that received both critical acclaim and more commercial success.  Springsteen was at the peak of his career. So his record label was very keen to release his next album and build on the commercial success of one of their most profitable artists.

All parties involved had grand expectations for the next album and in January 1982 Bruce Springsteen made some demo recordings, including a song called ‘Born In The USA’ on a four-track portastudio in his New Jersey home.

But while the record label wanted Springsteen to repeat the powerful rock production and sound of ‘The River‘, it became apparrent that after a series of sessions with his famous E Street Band, Springsteen decided the new recordings failed to capture the intimacy of the home demos and took the incredible decision to release the crude, home recorded versions of 10 of the tracks as ‘Nebraska’.

Released between the albums ‘The River’ and ‘Born In The USA’ you can imagine the conflict of interests between what Springsteen and his record label at the time.  But almost thirty years on, ‘Nebraska‘ is considered a classic album. Its everyman, blue collar themes resonated with much of his audience, and the intimate nature of the album gave it a unique presence amongst the increasingly overblown productions being used at the time. ‘Nebraska‘ also captured a new, darker side to Bruce Springsteen’s public persona.

In Heart Of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, David Burke explores the album from a multitude of angles. From the nature of the material itself and the history of American folk music which foretold it, to the legacy and influence on later generations of musicians. The book takes an in-depth look at a record whose very existence defied the commercial and corporate nature of the music industry yet which has proved itself to be a timeless classic.

2012 sees the 30th anniversary of the album. An anniversary edition re-issue is expected, and Springsteen’s fan base is awash with rumours that this will include the E Street Band s studio recordings of the material and some of the tracks not included on the original album (to which the author has had access and has discusses in the book).

Heart of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska
by David Burke is published by Cherry Red Books priced £14.99


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