The Audience Learns Part 1 supplement — Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”

 
 Martin Sheen in Terrence Malick's film  Badlands , which tells the story of serial-killer and is said to be part of the inspiration for Bruce Springsteen's album  Nebraska .  Image via  bloomberg.com .

Martin Sheen in Terrence Malick's film Badlands, which tells the story of serial-killer and is said to be part of the inspiration for Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska.  Image via bloomberg.com.

 

Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska was originally created as a series of song demos for the E Street Band.  At some point, Springsteen decided that he preferred the sparse demos to full-band versions.

The spare arrangements on the album suit the lonely mood of the songs.  As you listen to the following, however, note how important the ambient space is to how you hear and process the song.  

 

The absence of other instrumentation leaves room for us to turn over the music and lyrics.  The sense of spaciousness also evokes the wide open landscape that stretches out behind the story.  Nothing occludes our view of distant horizons.  This helps us feel as if we are looking back on the killer's life and watching him approach his final horizon and perhaps the "great void" of which he has been told.

This song invites considerable reflection, and Springsteen was wise to recognize that his audience needed some room in which to do the creative work of listening. 


Thank you for reading.