Song of the Day #1,388: ‘Reason to Believe’ – Bruce Springsteen

Best Albums of the 80s – #15
Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen (1982)

I suppose the most obvious Bruce Springsteen selection for a list of great 80s albums would be Born in the U.S.A.. But I’ll tip my hand by revealing that neither that nor Tunnel of Love, another standout by The Boss from this era, made my list.

Instead, the lone Springsteen slot goes to the album that preceded both of them, 1982’s Nebraska.

The songs on this album were recorded as a series of acoustic demos at Springsteen’s house with the intention of later fleshing them out with the band. But after tackling the set in the studio with the E Street Band, Springsteen found himself drawn back to the demos.

The subject matter and tone of these songs were better served by a simpler treatment… loneliness and despair aren’t best expressed through a drum kit and saxophone.

The production of Nebraska (or lack thereof) serves the material beautifully. This feels like a collection of hard-luck stories passed down through generations by men and women who have lost far more than they’ve loved.

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


5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,388: ‘Reason to Believe’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    I’m sure you’ll get some flack from Amy for not placing her beloved Tunnel of Love on this list.:)

    I’m less familiar with Nebraska than I am Tunnel or Born in the USA, but I’m a sucker for stripped down acoustics, so I’m sure I would probably agree with your placement of this album on your list if I became more familiar with the songs. I’m loving the sound of this song, for example.

  2. pegclifton says:

    I love this song, but I certainly would have placed Born in the USA on your list, anyway, could any one sound sexier than Bruce??

  3. Amy says:

    When did you first hear this album? Certainly not in 1982! How is this the Bruce album that makes your best of 80’s cut? I think I need to go back to read your first blog post again… what criteria are you using exactly?

  4. Clay says:

    My criteria is that the album had to be released in the 80s. Doesn’t matter when I first heard it. As I wrote in the first post, I bought many of my 80s albums in the 90s.

  5. Amy says:

    I know I should probably wait until you’ve finished your list, but what the heck. In no particular order here are my top 20 albums (I have more than 20 because I’ve chosen two albums for several artists. I would opt for one over the other for all but REM, so you can guess which album I’d sacrifice to allow both of those to remain) and my top 3 singles that are “the 80’s” for me. I listened to – and loved – each of these albums during the decade in which they were released. (* I even got to see many of these musicians in concert.)

    Prince, Purple Rain
    Michael Jackson, Thriller*
    George Michael, Faith
    John Mellencamp, Scarecrow/Uh Huh
    Paul Simon, Graceland*
    Peter Gabriel, So
    REM, Life’s Rich Pageant/ Fables of the Reconstruction*
    Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman*
    10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe
    Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA/Tunnel of Love
    Traveling Wilburys, Traveling Wilburys, Volume I
    Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever/ Southern Accents*
    Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom/King of America*
    Sting, Dream of the Blue Turtles/Nothing Like the Sun*
    Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band/Pontiac*
    Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time*
    Robert Cray, Strong Persuader*
    Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls*
    Steve Winwood, Back in the High Life*
    Don Henley, Building the Perfect Beast/The End of the Innocence*

    “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes
    “Addicted to Love” – Robert Palmer
    “Kiss” – Prince

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