Posted 20 hours ago

Deliver Me from Nowhere: The Making of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska

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In that moment in American life,” reflects musician and best-selling author Warren Zanes in the prologue of his fascinating making-of book, “it seemed you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing Bruce Springsteen or buy a magazine without seeing him. But that wasn’t what mattered to us. Not right then. It wasn’t even the earlier records like Born to Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town that were on our minds, though we knew them line for line. When our dressing room door opened and Bruce Springsteen walked in, we had one thought: that’s the guy who made Nebraska.” Forgot to mention in my post yesterday that I read Deliver Me From Nowhere, a short little book about the making of Springsteen's Nebraska album. It was good. I think it was a piece of missing context for me in the discourse around Springsteen as a pre-eminent artist. I mean, there's no doubting the hits, and his stuff is good, but I think there's a deeper thing there. Maybe it's the hero cycle of suffering for your art, or having existential crisis or something.. and I think that this record is a pretty stark embodiment of whatever that thing is.

Even the technical aspects of making Nebraska into a physical, deliverable work of art were interesting as was Jon Landau’s role in the process as not only a manager, but as a friend. The reactions of other singer/songwriter performers to what Springsteen had done with Nebraska were also illuminating. Springsteen has lived with the joy and burden of people wanting his time. The intimacy of the music brings something out in people. He’s probably had to scrape off hundreds of us just to stay on schedule. But that day I was his guest, and he was as good a host as I could ask for. He got me water to drink and then asked if I needed more. Later in the afternoon he wondered if coffee was a good idea. I was at the family house and—­as I think we both understood—­his responsibility. Any mess I made he’d have to clean up. I wanted to know where Nebraska came from, what it led to. It sat between two of Springsteen’s most celebrated recordings, in its own quiet and turmoil. He described it to me as “an accident start to finish” but also as the album that “still might be [his] best.” The recording came from a place and a time in which Springsteen was facing troubles in his life, troubles that had no name as of yet. Wordsworth defines poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings... recollected in tranquillity.” Quite differently, Nebraska came from the middle of that “overflow,” was not a thing “recollected in tranquillity.” It came from the heart of trouble and led to still more, its stark character the lasting reward.Erase the performer, the verve, energy, the bombast and the optimism. Replace open roads for empty towns. Haunting dirges for full swinging bands. Broken spirits for young men. And an album covers of a desolate landscape instead of the profile of the talented Springsteen. Only then do you get close to imagining the austere Midwestern desert known as “Nebraska” Discusses how Bruce was in a dark place during the writing of it but doesn’t get into too much detail why and doesn’t explain through lyrical examples of the songs. What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods. Deliver Me From Nowhere - The Making Of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska' by Warren Zanes. Released 2023. Too many excerpts from interviews and books I’ve already read. Fascinating theory that without Nebraska there wouldn’t have been BITUSA.

Zane also explores the personal inspirations for the album. Springsteen talked to Zane about the album. He explains how his childhood with his grandparents, his struggles with depression and his feelings of isolation while surrounded by people were all getting worked out in the songs. I’m a diehard Springsteen fan and also loved Zanes’s biography of Tom Petty, and so when I saw this book, I was all in. My thanks go to Net Galley and Crown Books for the review copy; this book is for sale now.Recommended for Springsteen fans (even old ones like me that still think of Born in the USA as the later Springsteen, though now I guess I would have to change that to the middle Springsteen) as well as music fans in general. Those readers who enjoy learning more about the hows and whys of an album will particularly enjoy this.

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