Nebraska Songs Ranked

Nebraska is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, released on September 30, 1982, by Columbia Records. Springsteen recorded the songs as demos on a 4-track recorder, intending to rerecord them with the E Street Band, but decided to release them as they were.[3]Nebraska remains one of the most highly regarded albums in his catalog. The songs on Nebraska deal with ordinary, down-on-their-luck blue-collar characters who face a challenge or a turning point in their lives. The songs also treat the subject of outsiders, criminals and mass murderers with little hope for the future—or no future at all—as in the title track, where the main character is sentenced to death in the electric chair. Unlike previous albums, which often exude energy, youth, optimism and joy, the vocal tones of Nebraska are solemn and thoughtful, with fleeting moments of grace and redemption woven through the lyrics. The album’s reverb-laden vocals and mood combined with dark lyrical content have been described by music critic William Ruhlmann as “one of the most challenging albums ever released by a major star on a major record label”. Because of the album’s somber content, Springsteen chose not to tour in support of the album, making it Springsteen’s first major release that was not supported by a tour, and his only such release until 2019’s Western Stars. Here are all of Nebraska’s songs ranked.

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10. Highway Patrolman

“Highway Patrolman” is poignant poetry about the thin blue line. In “Highway Patrolman” Bruce displays the moral ambiguity of an honest man torn between his duty as a law officer and his own flesh and blood.”

9. State Trooper

“State Trooper” has a “Pink Cadillac” type vibe in the chugging verse melody with lyrics really hard to comprehend due to the mellow singing approach from Bruce. Still, it’s obviously about the state troopers of New Jersey. Probably one of the weaker songs here.”

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8. Reason to Believe

“Reason To Believe” seems to be lyrically different than simply “finding a reason to believe” (and no, this is not a Rod Stewart cover in case you’re wondering). I sense these lyrics are about working hard and making enough money to support a family.”

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7. My Father’s House

“My Father’s House” has lyrics that remind me of my childhood and the walks I’d take with my father through the woods. However, I haven’t experienced an outcome quite like the ending to this story. This songs feels rather simplistic the way the vocal melody is written and the harmonica is too straight forward and almost boring compared to say, the work of Bob Dylan but… BUT! (in case it sounds like I’m criticizing it) the lyrics alone are enough to elevate the song to absolute greatness.”

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6. Mansion On the Hill

“Mansion On the Hill” is about the memories of visiting a special place that you’ve always held close to your heart. Or in this case, a special mansion that Bruce holds dear. This place can be anywhere- the lyrics work great in this regard. Whether on top of a hill, beside a stream, a restaurant, on the front porch, *anywhere*.”

5. Open All Night

“Open All Night” bares an even stronger resemblance. With that said, these two songs are still pretty decent which goes to show how memorable Nebraska is as an album.”

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4. Used Cars

“Used Cars” is remarkably sad on all counts. The line about the salesman unable to make a deal is really amazing. The melody is depressingly gorgeous. This is Bruce Springsteen at his very best in my opinion- when writing these type of songs.”

3. Johnny 99

“Johnny 99” focuses on a short-tempered man struggling to keep himself out of trouble with the law. A more upbeat style compared to the rest of the material on Nebraska. “

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2. Atlantic City

“Atlantic City” has lyrics that are up for interpretation. To me it sounds like Bruce is revealing how difficult and unfair life can be sometimes, regardless where you live or who you are but despite the troubling times, be optimistic anyway. Yeah… I’m probably wrong.”

1. Nebraska

“Nebraska” is a bit like the musical companion to “The Grapes of Wrath,” a dreary, dismal, but emotional ode to the desperate and afflicted characters in American society. It’s a hard and bitter track listing, whose moments of hope and strength tend to come at enormous cost. Beyond that, Springsteen’s best quality is the ability to create the atmosphere perfectly tailored for each of the vignettes.”