Nebraska remains an outlier for Springsteen, a record that sits uneasily in his discography.
Instead of making an impact upon release, Nebraska has been accruing weight gradually over the last four decades, becoming a marker of its socioeconomic era as well as an early document of the later home-recording revolution. It stands alone partly because Springsteen didn’t tour behind it—his work is ultimately about his connection to his audience, and that connection is felt most intensely when he’s performing onstage—and partly because the record itself is kind of an accident, something that fell into place before Springsteen knew what to do with it. “I had no conscious political agenda or social theme,” he later wrote of this time in his autobiography, Born to Run.
“I was after a feeling, a tone that felt like the world I’d known and still carried inside me.”