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5. 'Nebraska' (1982)
A bleak, spare travelogue across America. Originally recorded on a Teac 4-track as demos for an E Street Band project, Springsteen ultimately decided to release the demos as the completed album. Whether putting himself in the mind of spree killer Charles Starkweather on the title track or as a sergeant who lets his neer-do-well brother literally get away with murder on “Highway Patrol Man,” “Nebraska” is populated with characters who do mean you harm, but, usually, no more harm than they do to themselves. Putting on your make up and fixing your hair real pretty and going to “Atlantic City” will provide only momentary solace, but that’s as much as these characters can hope for.