Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska




Kitsch and I got in a brief and recurring argument at work to day over Springsteen's Nebraska. He says he wants to feel like hes getting, and I paraphrase, oiled up for some dirty and manly and grunting sex. but Nebraska doesn't do that for him. I thought that Springsteen only did that to dirty, oily, manly New Jersy-ites. I suppose a state's border does not necessarily divide the genes that would lead one to plant one's home beneath a cloud of stench bigger than the one that followed Marlon Brando in his fat, final days.

Actually, New Jersey is very pretty, and my immediate, typical, writerly response to any mention of it was to be rude to it for being industrial and gritty when, in places, it is lush and leagreen. This, my dear Alex Kitsch, is why I love Nebraska over Springsteen's other work: it is not about the New Jersey we all hate like an annoying cousin.

Nebraska is about New Jersey in the off-the-turnpike places. The places that aren't covered in brown. The people that aren't covered in Axe body spray and pookah shells (jab number 2). But theres grit there, its the tinysoft Tallahasee kind of grit; the stuff that gets in your hair and won't come out in the shower.

Its about as blue collar that the boss gets. stripped of a band and a recording studio. recorded in his basement. Softstrummed with a sense of urgency.

I can't really think of an album that has the same reddish feel to it. Gang of Four captured the grit a few times, but they're an entirely different genre (freakin' entirely). Sometimes Will Oldham comes close in his many iterations, but his flavor of intensity leans more towards soothing and underhanded. Smog comes pretty close in his earlier, lo-fi kind of stuff, but he doesn't have the same blue-collared feel to it.

Regardless of pointless and failed allusions to others, I've found that Nebraska beats out most albums on the record player. Something about listening to it with as many pops and sizzles as possible (I have an old copy) makes it that much more attractive of an album.

Anyway I'm not about to go put Nebraska on when I feel like getting all sexed up, I have Purple Rain for that. I will, however, put Nebraska on when I want to have a gritty, sloppy, but endearing make out session with a lady. The kind where my fingers get tangled in the bra strap and we both giggle in appreciation. The kind that actually is more appropriate in the back seat of a car looking over top of an oil refinery, or in a New Brunswick parking lot.

2 comments:

Alex said...

FINE. I'll listen to Nebraska again, but I seriously doubt anything can top the untethered glory of "Blinded By the Light," "Thunder Road," "Lost in the Flood," "Growin' Up," "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out," or "Backstreets."

Also, do I need to point out the weird fetish cum justification around the idea of being the most blue collar album he put out? I mean, dude, c'mon. There is an entire aesthetic at work in recording without a studio, specifically in a basement, with a sense of urgency, that has nothing to do with class, and a lot to do, well, just aesthetics that have long pre-dated Springsteen's recordings. I mean, didn't it all become a bit nakedly obvious when he put out We Shall Overcome, an entire album of Pete Seeger covers, this year?

Also, as I listen to this, I realize that it isn't even THAT lo-fi! He must have one cavernous basement to get that much reverb on his voice in the title track! And "Atlantic City" needs to be a rocker. But the album is pleasant enough, I really don't dislike it so much as I can't understand why so many people put Nebraska way over the others. Actually as I listen to it, I realize that one of the biggest problems for me is that it all runs together into a rather mid-tempo, soft-volume, sight-tastic campfire record, whereas the others are more spaced out, a little something for everyone. I'm listening to "Mansion on the Hill" right now, and I'm really hoping that the next song brings in some fucking sax but I know it won't.

Alex said...

That should be sigh-tastic.