Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska confounded a lot of people when he released it in 1982. Probably still does, especially among recently converted followers. I mean, how do you explain it someone who’s yet to hear it? I tried in my book Heart of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, writing this:
Nebraska is raw, primitive, ancient, otherworldly, spiritual, nihilistic, heartbreaking, horrifying and a whole bunch of other things that come to you like apparitions whenever you enter its province (ideally under cover of darkness)….And like the great films and the great novels, it holds up well. It holds up well because it still has something to teach us about ourselves and the world we live in, and maybe even the world beyond this one.
Just as Springsteen was inspired by Woody Guthrie and Flannery O’Connor and Night of the Hunter and Suicide and Terrence Malick and Martin Scorsese on Nebraska, so too has Nebraska become a touchstone for artists of myriad forms – Bruised Orange theatre company’s The Nebraska Project, Tennessee Jones’ short story collection Deliver Me from Nowhere, and Sean Penn’s directorial debut The Indian Runner, based on the song “Highway Patrolman.”
And then there is, of course, the tribute album, Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, helmed by producer and filmmaker Jim Sampas.