Nebraska

Recorded on four-track cassette in his New Jersey bedroom, Nebraska has proved one of Springsteen’s most enduring works, a raw, haunted acoustic record populated by lost souls searching not for salvation through music but simply a reason to believe.

Released: September 30, 1982
Label: Columbia Records
Produced By: Bruce Springsteen
1 Nebraska
Lyrics
I saw her standin' on her front lawn just twirlin' her baton
Me and her went for a ride sir and ten innocent people died

From the town of Lincoln Nebraska with a sawed off .410 on my lap
Through to the badlands of Wyoming I killed everything in my path

I can't say that I'm sorry for the things that we done
At least for a little while sir me and her we had us some fun

The jury brought in a guilty verdict and the judge he sentenced me to death
Midnight in a prison storeroom with leather straps across my chest

Sheriff when the man pulls that switch sir and snaps my poor head back
You make sure my pretty baby is sittin' right there on my lap

They declared me unfit to live said into that great void my soul'd be hurled
They wanted to know why I did what I did
Well sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 The Essential Bruce Springsteen VH-1 Storytellers
2 Atlantic City
Lyrics
Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night now they blew up his house too
Down on the boardwalk they're gettin' ready for a fight gonna see what them racket boys can do

Now there's trouble busin' in from outta state and the D.A. can't get no relief
Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade and the gamblin' commission's hangin' on by the skin of its teeth

CHORUS
Well now everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus

CHORUS

Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold but with you forever I'll stay
We're goin' out where the sand's turnin' to gold so put on your stockin's baby 'cause the night's getting cold
And everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Now I been lookin' for a job but it's hard to find
Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well I'm tired of comin' out on the losin' end
So honey last night I met this guy and I'm gonna do a little favor for him
Well I guess everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your hair up nice and set up pretty
and meet me tonight in Atlantic City
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City
Also Appears On
In Concert - MTV Plugged In Concert - MTV Plugged Film Greatest Hits (1995) Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD) The Essential Bruce Springsteen Live in Dublin Live in Dublin Film MusiCares Person Of The Year: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen
3 Mansion on the Hill
Lyrics
There's a place out on the edge of town sir
Risin' above the factories and the fields
Now ever since I was a child I can remember that mansion on the hill

In the day you can see the children playing
On the road that leads to those gates of hardened steel
Steel gates that completely surround sir the mansion on the hill

At night my daddy'd take me and we'd ride through the streets of a town so silent and still
Park on a back road along the highway side
Look up at that mansion on the hill

In the summer all the lights would shine there'd be music playin' people laughin' all the time
Me and my sister we'd hide out in the tall corn fields
Sit and listen to the mansion on the hill

Tonight down here in Linden Town I watch the cars rushin' by home from the mill
There's a beautiful full moon rising above the mansion on the hill
Also Appears On
Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD)
4 Johnny 99
Lyrics
Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late that month
Ralph went out lookin' for a job but he couldn't find none
He came home too drunk from mixin'Tanqueray and wine
He got a gun shot a night clerk now they call'm Johnny 99

Down in the part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop
Johnny's wavin' his gun around and threatenin' to blow his top
When an off duty cop snuck up on him from behind
Out in front of the Club Tip Top they slapped the cuffs on Johnny 99

Well the city supplied a public defender but the judge was Mean John Brown
He came into the courtroom and stared young Johnny down
Well the evidence is clear gonna let the sentence son fit the crime
Prison for 98 and a year and we'll call it even Johnny 99

A fistfight broke out in the courtroom they had to drag Johnny's girl away
His mama stood up and shouted "Judge don't take my boy this way"
Well son you got a statement you'd like to make
Before the bailiff comes to forever take you away

Now judge judge I had debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holdin' my mortgage and they was takin' my house away
Now I ain't sayin' that makes me an innocent man
But it was more 'n all this that put that gun in my hand

Well your honor I do believe I'd be better off dead
And if you can take a man's life for the thoughts that's in his head
Then won't you sit back in that chair and think it over judge one more time
And let 'em shave off my hair and put me on that execution line
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 London Calling: Live in Hyde Park
5 Highway Patrolman
Lyrics
My name is Joe Roberts I work for the state
I'm a sergeant out of Perrineville barracks number 8
I always done an honest job as honest as I could
I got a brother named Franky and Franky ain't no good

Now ever since we was young kids it's been the same come down
I get a call over the radio Franky's in trouble downtown
Well if it was any other man, I'd put him straight away
But when it's your brother sometimes you look the other way

Me and Franky laughin' and drinkin' nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"

I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good

Well Franky went in the army back in 1965 I got a farm deferment, settled down, took Maria for my wife
But them wheat prices kept on droppin' till it was like we were gettin' robbed
Franky came home in '68, and me, I took this job

Yea we're laughin' and drinkin' nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin', teach him how to walk that line
Man turns his back on his family he ain't no friend of mine

Well the night was like any other, I got a call 'bout quarter to nine
There was trouble in a roadhouse out on the Michigan line
There was a kid lyin' on the floor lookin' bad bleedin' hard from his head there was a girl cryin' at a table and it was Frank, they said
Well I went out and I jumped in my car and I hit the lights
Well I must of done one hundred and ten through Michigan county that night

It was out at the crossroads, down round Willow bank
Seen a Buick with Ohio plates behind the wheel was Frank
Well I chased him through them county roads till a sign said Canadian border five miles from here
I pulled over the side of the highway and watched his taillights disappear

Me and Franky laughin' and drinkin'
Nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good
Also Appears On
Live in Dublin Live in Dublin Film
6 State Trooper
Lyrics
New Jersey Turnpike ridin' on a wet night 'neath the refinery's glow, out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration, I ain't got none but I got a clear conscience
'Bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me

Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife the only thing that I got's been both'rin' me my whole life
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me

In the wee wee hours your mind gets hazy, radio relay towers lead me to my baby
Radio's jammed up with talk show stations
It's just talk, talk, talk, talk, till you lose your patience
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me

Hey, somebody out there, listen to my last prayer
Hiho silver-o, deliver me from nowhere
7 Used Cars
Lyrics
My little sister's in the front seat with an ice cream cone
My ma's in the black seat sittin' all alone
As my pa steers her slow out of the lot for a test drive down Michigan Avenue

Now, my ma, she fingers her wedding band
And watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands
He's tellin' us all 'bout the break he'd give us if he could, but he just can't
Well if I could, I swear I know just what I'd do

Now, mister, the day the lottery I win I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again

Now, the neighbors come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car
I wish he'd just hit the gas and let out a cry and tell 'em all they can kiss our asses goodbye

My dad, he sweats the same job from mornin' to morn
Me, I walk home on the same dirty streets where I was born
Up the block I can hear my little sister in the front seat blowin' that horn
The sounds echoin' all down Michigan Avenue

Now, mister, the day my numbers comes in I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again
8 Open All Night
9 My Father's House
Lyrics
Last night I dreamed that I was a child out where the pines grow wild and tall
I was trying to make it home through the forest before the darkness falls

I heard the wind rustling through the trees and ghostly voices rose from the fields
I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path
With the devil snappin' at my heels

I broke through the trees, and there in the night
My father's house stood shining hard and bright the branches and brambles tore my clothes and scratched my arms
But I ran till I fell, shaking in his arms

I awoke and I imagined the hard things that pulled us apart
Will never again, sir, tear us from each other's hearts
I got dressed, and to that house I did ride from out on the road, I could see its windows shining in light

I walked up the steps and stood on the porch a woman I didn't recognize came and spoke to me through a chained door
I told her my story, and who I'd come for
She said "I'm sorry, son, but no one by that name lives here anymore"

My father's house shines hard and bright it stands like a beacon calling me in the night
Calling and calling, so cold and alone
Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned
Also Appears On
Chapter and Verse
10 Reason to Believe
Lyrics
Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true
She said "Baby I'll work for you every day and bring my money home to you"
One day he up and left her and ever since that
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back
Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me
How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him
Wash the baby in the water take away little Kyle's sin
In a whitewash shotgun shack an old man passes away take his body to the graveyard and over him they pray Lord won't you tell us
tell us what does it mean
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Congregation gathers down by the riverside
Preacher stands with his Bible groom stands waitin' for his bride
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin' willow tree
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly
Wonderin' where can his baby be still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85