All posts by Hallgeir

Today: Bruce Springsteen released Nebraska in 1982 – 30 years ago

“The fact that you didn’t intend to release it makes it the most intimate record you’ll ever do. This is an absolutely legitimate piece of art.” Steven Van Zandt

“I felt that it was my best writing. I felt I was getting better as a writer. I was learning things. I was certainly taking a hard look at everything around me.”
Bruce Springsteen

I really love this album. I did not buy it in 1982 I got it a few years later, I listened to it at the record store when it was released, but it didn’t impress me. I couldn’t connect to it musically or lyrically. It is not an album that imidiately catches your attention, it needs to be listened to, properly.

When I did that I became very impressed!

Some facts (from Wikipedia):

Released September 30, 1982
Recorded Mostly January 3, 1982 at Springsteen’s Colts Neck, New Jersey bedroom
Genre Americana, folk rock, folk
Length 40:50
Label Columbia
Producer Bruce Springsteen

Nebraska is the sixth studio album by Bruce Springsteen, released in 1982 on Columbia Records.

Sparsely-recorded on a cassette-tape Portastudio, the tracks on Nebraska were originally intended as demos of songs to be recorded with the E Street Band. However, Springsteen ultimately decided to release the demos themselves. Nebraska remains one of the most highly-regarded albums in his catalogue. The songs on Nebraska deal with ordinary, blue collar characters who face a challenge or a turning point in their lives. Unlike his previous albums, very little salvation and grace is present within the songs.

Initially, Springsteen recorded demos for the album at his home with a 4-track cassette recorder. The demos were sparse, using only acoustic guitar, electric guitar (“Open All Night”), harmonica, mandolin, glockenspiel, tambourine, organ and Springsteen’s voice.

Springsteen then recorded the album in a studio with the E Street Band. However, he and the producers and engineers working with him felt that a raw, haunted folk essence present on the home tapes was lacking in the band treatments, and so they ultimately decided to release the demo version as the final album. Complications with mastering of the tapes ensued because of low recording volume, but the problem was overcome with sophisticated noise reduction techniques.

Springsteen fans have long speculated whether Springsteen’s full-band recording of the album, nicknamed Electric Nebraska, will ever surface. In a 2006 interview, manager Jon Landau said it was unlikely and that “the right version of Nebraska came out”. But in a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg praised the full band recording of the album as “killing.”

Critical Reception:

Allmusic:

by William Ruhlmann

“There is an adage in the record business that a recording artist’s demos of new songs often come off better than the more polished versions later worked up in a studio. But Bruce Springsteen was the first person to act on that theory, when he opted to release the demo versions of his latest songs, recorded with only acoustic or electric guitar, harmonica, and vocals, as his sixth album, Nebraska. It was really the content that dictated the approach, however. Nebraska‘s ten songs marked a departure forSpringsteen, even as they took him farther down a road he had been traveling previously. Gradually, his songs had become darker and more pessimistic, and those on Nebraska marked a new low. They also found him branching out into better developed stories…”

Promo poster for Nebraska in 1982

Robert Christgau:

Literary worth is established with the title tune, in which Springsteen’s Charlie Starkweather becomes the first mass murderer in the history of socially relevant singer-songwriting to entertain a revealing thought–wants his pretty baby to sit in his lap when he gets the chair. Good thing he didn’t turn that one into a rousing rocker, wouldn’t you say, though (Hüsker Dü please note) I grant that some hardcore atonality might also produce the appropriate alienation effect. But the music is a problem here–unlike, er, Dylan, or Robert Johnson, or Johnny Shines or Si Kahn or Kevin Coyne, Springsteen isn’t imaginative enough vocally or melodically to enrich these bitter tales of late capitalism with nothing but a guitar, a harmonica, and a few brave arrangements. Still, this is a conceptual coup, especially since it’s selling. What better way to set right the misleading premise that rock and roll equals liberation? A-

Rolling Stone Magazine:

Nebraska is an acoustic triumph, a basic folk album on which Springsteen has stripped his art down to the core. It’s as harrowing as Darkness on the Edge of Town, but more measured. Every small touch speaks volumes: the delicacy of the acoustic guitars, the blurred sting of the electric guitars, the spare, grim images. He’s now telling simple stories in the language of a deferential common man, peppering his sentences with “sir’s.” “My name is Joe Roberts,” he sings. “I work for the state.”

 

“Now judge I had debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holdin’ my mortgage and they were gonna take 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”

Bruce Springsteen would try to recreate Nebraska in 1995 when he released The Ghost of Tom Joad,  an album that is very similar musically and lyrically. As much as I love The Ghost of Tom Joad, it was impossible to recreate the “accident” that happened on this simple casette demo, recorded in a New Jersey bedroom in January 1982.

– Hallgeir

If I needed you by Townes Van Zandt

I have nearly 30 albums by Townes Van Zandt, most of them live and released after he passed away. Most of them better than 99% of everything  released today.

My mother and father are heavy smokers. When we went camping when I was a child we drove in our Opel Record. No safety belts, no windows open, just  lot of smoke and country music.

It is glued into me, I still love those voices, Waylon Jennings, Burl Ives, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt and a whole bunch of other fantastic singers and songwriters.

I don’t mind the smoke as long a s I get the music!

One of my favourite songs from back then is If I Needed You, so sparse and so vulnerable.

My father had a good friend, Reidar, who collected all these great country artists. He was very passionate about the music and he was a very kind man. He died of cancer much too young.

He gave me casettes of fantastic country and western music, I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but he played a big part in shaping my musical taste.

Townes Van Zandt was his doing. Thank you , Reidar!

If I needed you:

Version 2 by Townes (the song starts about two minutes into the video):

It is a popular song that is covered by a lot of artists. Here are a few of the best known ones:

Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle:

Emmylou in 1982, maybe the best cover version!

Don Williams had a hit with Emmylou Harris:

Very understandable, it’s a fantastic interpretation.

If I needed you, would you come to me?
Would you come to me for to ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you.
I would swim the sea for to ease your pain.
Well the night’s forlorn and the morning’s born
And the morning’s born with the lights of love.
And you’ll miss sunrise if you close your eyes,
And that would break my heart in two.

last but not least, Townes Van Zandt again with the masterpiece if I Needed You:

– Hallgeir

Abbey Road was released 43 years ago

From Wikipedia:

Released 26 September 1969
Recorded 22 February – 20 August 1969,EMI, Olympic and Trident Studios,London
Genre Rock
Length 47:23
Label Apple
Producer George Martin

Abbey Road is the 11th studio album released by the English rock band The Beatles. It is their last recorded album, although Let It Be was the last album released before the band’s dissolution in 1970. Work on Abbey Roadbegan in April 1969, and the album was released on 26 September 1969 in the United Kingdom, and 1 October 1969 in the United States.

Abbey Road is widely regarded as one of The Beatles’ most tightly constructed albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. Despite the tensions within the band, Abbey Road was released to near universal acclaim and is considered to be one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2012, Abbey Road was voted 14th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2009, readers of the magazine also named Abbey Road the greatest Beatles album.

After the near-disastrous sessions for the proposed Get Back album (later released as Let It Be), Paul McCartney suggested to music producer George Martin that the group get together and make an album “the way we used to”, free of the conflict that began following the death of Brian Epstein and carrying over to the sessions for the “White Album“. Martin agreed, stipulating that he must be allowed to do the album his way. This would be the last time the band would record with Martin.

Golden slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End my favourite Beatles song:

In their interviews for The Beatles Anthology, the surviving band members stated that, although none of them ever made the distinction of calling it the “last album”, they all felt at the time this would very likely be the final Beatles product and therefore agreed to set aside their differences and “go out on a high note”.

With the Let It Be album partly finished, the sessions for Abbey Road began in April, as the single “The Ballad of John and Yoko” / “Old Brown Shoe” was completed. In fact, recording sessions of John Lennon‘s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” had already started in February 1969 in Trident studios, with Billy Preston on the organ—only three weeks after the Get Back sessions. Photos from these sessions are included in the book Get Back, which came along with the Let It Be album but not in the Let It Be film. McCartney is clean-shaven and Lennon has started to let his beard grow.

Most of the album was recorded between 2 July and 1 August 1969. After the album was finished and released, the Get Back / Let It Be project was re-examined. More work was done on the album, including the recording of additional music (see Let It Be). Thus, though the bulk of Let It Be was recorded prior to Abbey Road, the latter was released first, and Abbey Road was the last album properly started by The Beatles before they disbanded. Lennon was on hiatus from the group and working with the Plastic Ono Band during the September 1969 lead-up to Abbey Road’s release, which was effectively the first official sign of The Beatles’ impending dissolution.

Continue reading Abbey Road was released 43 years ago

New Video: Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Walk like a Giant

“Walk Like A Giant” – the first video from Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s upcoming double-CD of NEW music “Psychedelic Pill” – coming October 30th. Psychedelic Pill represents the band’s second release of 2012, it follows the June 5 release of “Americana”.

Walk like a Giant (Official Video):

– Hallgeir

Happy birthday Jonas Fjeld!

From Wikipedia:

Jonas Fjeld (born Terje Lillegård Jensen; 24 September 1952 in Bodø, Norway) is a Norwegian singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is best known in the English-speaking world for two albums recorded by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen, a collaboration with Canadian Rick Danko of The Band and American singer-songwriter Eric Andersen. Fjeld also recorded two albums with the American bluegrass group Chatham County Line.

He is 60 years old today!

We celebrate him with a collection of his finest songs.

The Bells are ringing for you now (1985):

Paying Back (with The Chatham County Line):

Engler i sneen/angels in the snow (norwegian and english) (with Chatham County Line):

And the same song with Rick Danko, Eric Andersen and Jonas Fjeld:

Blue Hotel (Rick Danko, Eric Andersen and Jonas Fjeld, audio only):

We end this little tribute with the lovely, Mary I’m coming back home (Danko/Fjeld/Andersen):

Great singer and songwriter!

– Hallgeir