Nebraska / BITUA Timeline
Following The River tour, Bruce and The E St Band seperated and Bruce began to write and record new songs. Actually, as can be seen from the information below, this process had already begun during a break in the River tour schedule.
TOURED 20/1 TO 5/3/81
DEMO ACOUSTIC TAPE –
This is a tape recorded during a break in the latter part of the river tour which as yet has not circulated. The first track is a very early version of Atlantic City and Johnny 99 contains lyrics and musical themes later used in a separate song, Mansion On The Hill. There are several other tracks which are an unknown quantity (I’ve not heard the tape – only about it)
FIST FULL OF DOLLARS (early version of “Atlantic City“)
JOHNNY 99 (+ part of MANSION ON THE HILL)
BYE BYE JOHNNY (very different)
FOLLOW THAT DREAM
DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN
MY HEART IS AN OPEN BOOK
THE MAN WHO GOT AWAY
MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN
LET THE GIRL GO HOME
OPEN ALL NIGHT into THIS HARD LAND
TOURED 7/4 – 14/9/81
OCT – DEC 81
Bruce is on record as saying that he wrote the entire suite of Nebraska songs, including several that are not on the LP in two months following the end of the tour.
NEBRASKA DEMOS (ACOUSTIC)
NEBRASKA / ATLANTIC CITY / MANSION ON THE HILL / JOHNNY 99 / HIGHWAY PATROLMAN / STATE TROOPER / USED CARS / OPEN ALL NIGHT / MY FATHERS HOUSE / REASON TO BELIEVE
PINK CADILLAC / ROBERT FORD (DEPUTY?) / BITUSA / LOOSING KIND / CHILD BRIDE / DOWNBOUND TRAIN / WORKING ON THE HIGHWAY / DREAM BABY / PRECIOUS MEMORIES / RICHFIELD WHISTLE
NEBRASKA DEMO/ALBUM RECORDED (probably is date of last session)
We know the contents of the tape given by Bruce to the studio from the Book “Songs”
Bye Bye Johnny
Starkweather (Nebraska) – 4 mixes
Atlantic City – 3 takes
Mansion On The Hill – 3 mixes
Born In The USA
Johnny 99 – 2 versions
Losin Kind – 3 takes
Used Cars – 2 takes
Wanda (Open All Night) – 2 takes
Reason To Believe – 2 takes (second has extra verse)
JAN – APRIL 1982
LIONS DEN (may have been in with the Gary US Bonds sessions)
LONG WAY HOME / RULED BY THE GUN / DOWNBOUND TRAIN / WAGES OF SIN / I NEED YOU / WHEELS MAKE THE WORLD / GLORY DAYS / FADE TO BLACK / JESSE JAMES / TRUE LOVE / THEY KILLED HIM IN THE STREET / BABY I’M SO COLD
The above tracks (from LMX) have been attributed to early 83 – but this is inconsistent with the recording process as there are early versions of Glory Days (recorded in virtually it’s final format in May 82, as well as Downbound Train again recorded in the final form in May 82). The most likely time frame for these is early 1982.
No studio work was done on either the Nebraska demo’s or indeed any Bruce only tracks as Bruce was busy working on Gary US Bonds LP at this time.
The songs used on the LP written by Bruce and played with the band were
RENDEZVOUS / ANGELYNE / ALL I NEED / HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT / OUT OF WORK / CLUB SOUL CITY / LOVES ON THE LINE
At the end of the US Bonds mix downs, the band recorded demos of
COVER ME / PROTECTION / ??LION’S DEN??
Cover Me was to be given to Donna Summer but was considered too good so Protection was cut and offered instead.
LATE APRIL – EARLY MAY
Work was resumed on the Nebraska demos. There were two days of rehearsals and then the band moved to the Power Station.
I’M ON FIRE
This was the first track recorded here.
Following on from this, the following were cut
BITUSA / DOWNBOUND TRAIN (RICHFIELD WHISTLE may date from here) / THE BIG PAYBACK
As has been widely reported, Bruce resurrected the BITUSA track early on in these sessions and gave it the full band treatment – although 5 takes were actually recorded, it was the second one of these that ended up on the LP – and the project of the “Rock” album was generally referred to as BITUSA from this time on by everybody but Bruce who was unsure of his musical direction for some considerable time as can be seen by the the later demos tried out.
Multiple Band versions of some Nebraska tracks worked on at this time include
ATLANTIC CITY / NEBRASKA / MANSION ON THE HILL / JOHNNY 99 /
recorded in MAY 82
MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN / A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND (5/5/82) – Hit Factory
WAGES OF SIN (10/5/92) – Power Station
THIS HARD LAND (11/5/82) – Hit Factory
FRANKIE (14/5/82) – Power Station
I’M ON FIRE / I’M GOING DOWN / BITUSA / GLORY DAYS / DOWNBOUND TRAIN / DARLINGTON COUNTY / WORKING ON THE HIGHWAY / MURDER INC.
An interesting section from Dave Marsh’s Glory Days backs this up. (pg118)
“That night (the night that BIUSA was recorded) they knew they’d really begun making an album. And over the next three weeks, one song after another fell into place, usually in just a few takes: “Glory Days“, “Downbound Train“, “Darlington County” (a song they’d originally done during the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions in 1978!), “Working on the Highway” (recast from it’s Nebraska arrangement), “I’m on Fire“, “I’m Going Down“. A little more than half of what became the BIUSA album, released in 1984, was recorded in those few nights in May 1982. All cut live, in the studio, and eventually released with few, if any, overdubs. Plus a hilarious “Working on the Highway” companion piece; the brutal “Murder Inc.“; “Frankie“, another Darkness leftover; and several others that were of release quality but never got out.”
At this time – as the band attempts at recording the Nebraska material were not working, Bruce recorded the whole lot again solo in the studio – but failed to capture the stark quality of the original tape.
The LP was then mastered from the original tape. Titles for the LP considered at this time were
REASON TO BELIEVE
The cover art was considered at this time also.
8/8/82 – On The Prowl – a Downbound Train variant played live.
SEPT 82 – NEBRASKA RELEASED
After Labor Day, Bruce having set up a studio at his LA home begins writing and recording more songs – many of which are in the same vein as Nebraska.
A brief spell on mixing down what was to be the next LP was also started at this time but was abandoned fairly quickly.
3/10/82 – Open all night played live, On the prowl more refined.
SUGARLAND / SHUT OUT THE LIGHT written
Tracks recorded at this time by Bruce – solo playing all the instruments at the LA home studio.
SHUT OUT THE LIGHT / BYE BYE JOHNNY / SUGARLAND
Tracks possibly from this period
ONE LOVE / LITTLE GIRL / DON’T BACK DOWN / FUGITIVES DREAM
4/1/83 – solo tracks – BYE BYE JOHNNY / THE KLANSMAN / DON’T BACK DOWN / SEVEN TEARS
18/1/83 – 8 track mix – DON’T BACK DOWN (YOUR HOMETOWN MUSIC) / SUGARLAND (rocking)
30/1/83 – DON’T BACK DOWN / BYE BYE JOHNNY / FOLLOW THAT DREAM / CYNTHIA / RICHFIELD WHISTLE / SHUT OUT THE LIGHT / SUGARLAND / YOUR HOMETOWN
Bruce and the Band go to the Hit Factory, where all subsequent recording and mixing down will occur and record one track.
20/4/83 – CYNTHIA
12/5/83 – COUNTY FAIR / LITTLE GIRL LIKE YOU / DELIVERY MAN / UNSATISFIED HEART
31/5/83 – CAR WASH / PINK CADILLAC
RSF – report that the band are still in the studio, and that some tracks are played to Bob Seger but Bruce is still not happy
Another visit to the studio produces two tracks
STAND ON IT / PINK CADILLAC
ROUGH LP MIX IN MAY 83 – BITUSA / SUGARLAND / MY LOVE / MY HOMETOWN / GLORY DAYS
A mid ’83 note had the following as choices for the LP
MUDER INC / DOWNBOUND / GLORY DAYS / THIS HARD LAND / MY LOVE / BYE BYE JOHNNY / FRANKIE / DOWN DOWN DOWN / HIGHWAY / I’M ON FIRE
13/6/83 – TV MOVIE
16/6/83 – STAND ON IT / JANEY DON’T YOU LOSE HEART
RSF – 7/7/83 – LP Finished but the band still in studio as Bruce still not happy
DON’T BACK DOWN / SUGARLAND / ONE LOVE / LITTLE GIRL / DREAM SONG
At the end of July, yet another mix down of the “LP” was done.
1/8/83 – PROTECTION
An acetate of the previous mix down was produced which had, amongst others:-
BITUSA / MY HOMETOWN / DOWNBOUND TRAIN / GLORY DAYS / SHUT OUT THE LIGHT / FOLLOW THAT DREAM
10/8/83 – Another visit to the studio produces
It’s at this point that Jon Landau actually makes a suggestion (fairly forcefully) that the LP should be the following:-
BITUSA / I’M GOING DOWN / COVER ME / MY HOMETOWN / BOBBY JEAN / / MY LOVE / FOLLOW THAT DREAM / GLORY DAYS / PROTECTION / JANEY DON’T YOU LOSE HEART / I’M ON FIRE
RSF – 1/9/83 – Report that for the last 3 weeks (presumably 10/8/83 on), that the band have been mixing down at a nyc studio
Bruce returns to LA (again) and works on both existing tracks and some new ones. Two tracks definately come from this period
4/9/93 – BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGES
– I’M GOING DOWN / MURDER INC / TV MOVIE / COUNTY FAIR / NO SURRENDER
The above are worked on in the studio.
A final mix down of 15 tracks is undertaken.
12/1/94 – MAN AT THE TOP
RSF – 2/2/84 – Report that a new track is being cut.
3/2/84 – ROCKAWAY THE DAYS
– DANCING IN THE DARK
Following some complaint and argument between Bruce and Jon Landau, the above track is written and recorded for inclusion on the LP as a single.
The LP was turned into Columbia in late march and then a new track, No Surrender was added following comment from Little Steven.
RSF – 24/5/84 – Report that the LP is finished and set for June release.
26/5/84 – DANCING IN THE DARK PLAYED LIVE
4/6/84 – BITUSA RELEASED