Tag Archives: Open all night
Busy night here at ABW as we run through the files searching for the answer. We are reminiscing about beautiful Zelda and that rascal Gatsby and driving fast through the midnight woods around Princeton. Don’t tell Gatsby but we didn’t all go to Princeton. He likes to think he is surrounded by Ivy League stock but it just isn’t true. My family wintered in the hinterlands of Southeastern Pennsylvania, not Palm Springs, and we vacated in Atlantic City.
On September 20, 1982 Columbia Records released Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. Everything about this record is a departure. The black and white photo on the cover by David Michael Kennedy doesn’t feature Springsteen, but a bleak cold landscape and highway going nowhere. The songs are about beaten crooked men. The music is spare and haunting. Every song is dire, the characters on edge waiting for death, or urging death to come. The opening song Nebraska is from the perspective of Charlie Starkweather, a spree-killing mass murderer. Johnny 99 is about a desperate man who loses his job, gets drunk, kills a man and ultimately begs a judge to sentence him to die. Open All Night is the only song with any semblance of positive feeling, telling the tale of a man racing down the New Jersey Turnpike in the dead of night to reach his girl. Reason to Believe is the real killer though, each verse recounting some bad thing happening: a dead dog on the highway, a lover left at the altar. But that chorus urging that at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe.
Perhaps Nebraska was Springsteen’s attempt to steer away from mega-success. He was well on the way after The River and his first hit: Hungry Heart. With Nebraska he took a commercial step back, delaying the inevitable leap to the stratosphere that was Born in The USA.