USED CARS

Album version


My little sister's in the front seat with an ice cream cone
My ma's in the back seat sitting all alone
As my pa steers her slow out of the lot
For a test drive down Michigan Avenue

Now my ma she fingers her wedding band
And watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands
He's telling us all about the break he'd give us if he could, but he just can't
Well if I could I swear I know just what I'd do

Now mister the day the lottery I win I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again

Now the neighbours come from near and far
As we pull up in our brand new used car
I wish he'd just hit the gas and let out a cry
And tell them all they can kiss our asses goodbye

My dad he sweats the same job from morning to morn
Me I walk home on the same dirty streets where I was born
Up the block I can hear my little sister in the front seat blowing that horn
The sounds echoing all down Michigan Avenue

Now mister the day my number comes in I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again


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Info

USED CARS is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1982 album Nebraska. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of USED CARS as released in 1982.

Studio Recording

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Nebraska

Following The River Tour, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band were scheduled to start recording the next album in New York City in February 1982. Springsteen felt that the upcoming band studio sessions would progress faster than they had for his previous three albums if he first records finished demos and demonstrates them to the band. He decided to record multi-channel, professional sounding, finished demos of some songs he had written during the period.

To achieve his goal, Springsteen asked his guitar technician, Mike Batlan, in December 1981 to set up a recording facility in a spare room at his home in Colts Neck, NJ. Some modification work was done to the room making it more receptive to achieving a decent sound. Batlan purchased a Teac Tascom Series 144 4-track cassette recorder, two Shure SM57 microphones, and two microphone stands. The sound was mixed through an old Gibson Echoplex and an old Panasonic boom box acted as the mix-down deck.

The four-track cassette recorder that Bruce Springsteen used to record his famous Nebraska demo tape of January 1982
The four-track cassette recorder that Bruce Springsteen used to record his famous Nebraska demo tape of January 1982

Batlan told journalist David McGee, "Springsteen began organizing his work for Nebraska during the first week of December 1981 – that's when I was directed to buy the four-track... actual recording began on 17 or 18 December and ended around January 3." Some of the songs were recorded two or three times in slightly different arrangements. A cassette tape was compiled and edited at the end of the sessions, likely on 03 Jan 1982. It contained fourteen songs recorded during these late December 1981 / early January 1982 sessions plus what is almost certainly a live recording of a fifteenth song, JOHNNY BYE-BYE. It also included seven alternate takes and five alternate mixes. The first person to listen to the tape was Jon Landau. Two or three months later, Springsteen recorded two additional songs (MY FATHER'S HOUSE and THE BIG PAYBACK) at home on the same equipment – thus making a total of 17 different songs.

  1. NEBRASKA (released on Nebraska)
  2. ATLANTIC CITY (released on Nebraska)
  3. MANSION ON THE HILL (released on Nebraska)
  4. BORN IN THE U.S.A. (released on Tracks)
  5. JOHNNY 99 (released on Nebraska)
  6. DOWNBOUND TRAIN (unreleased)
  7. LOSIN' KIND (unreleased)
  8. STATE TROOPER (released on Nebraska)
  9. USED CARS (released on Nebraska)
  10. OPEN ALL NIGHT (released on Nebraska)
  11. PINK CADILLAC (unreleased)
  12. HIGHWAY PATROLMAN (released on Nebraska)
  13. REASON TO BELIEVE (released on Nebraska)
  14. CHILD BRIDE (unreleased)
  15. MY FATHER'S HOUSE (released on Nebraska)
  16. THE BIG PAYBACK (released as a B-side)
  17. JOHNNY BYE-BYE (unreleased live version)

The solo demo tape was never conceived to result in a commercially released album, as the songs were recorded by the E Street Band with multi-instrument arrangements, during what's known by fans as the "Electric Nebraska Sessions". It should be noted that most of the songs were not recorded in "rock" arrangements. Instead, Springsteen and Max Weinberg just added light percussion, or Roy Bittan added a synth pad.

During the E Street Band sessions it became apparent to Springsteen that a majority of these songs did not lend themselves well to a full band arrangement. He later wrote in his 1998 book Songs, "I went into the studio, brought in the band, rerecorded, remixed, and succeeded in making the whole thing worse." At one point he even went back into the studio with an acoustic guitar to try and re-record the songs solo, but the result lacked the atmosphere and feeling of isolation only found on the original home demos. According to Toby Scott, Springsteen handed him the original solo demo tape in April 1982 and asked him if it was possible to just master off the tape, with the intention to release some of the songs as a solo album. It took Scott a few weeks before eventually saying yes and in May a decision was taken to release a solo album ahead of the still-in-progress E Street Band album.

Most of the E Street Band arrangements of these songs were discarded and ten of the original solo demos from the tape were released on the Nebraska album. Max Weinberg revealed to Rolling Stone in June 2010 that the recording of the "Electric Nebraska Sessions" does exist. He said that "the E Street Band actually did record all of Nebraska and it was killing [...] It was all very hard-edged. As great as it was, it wasn't what Bruce wanted to release. There is a full band Nebraska album, all of those songs are in the can somewhere."

"Open All Night" and "January 3, 1982" were considered as titles for the album, but ultimately "Nebraska" was chosen. The album was produced by Bruce Springsteen and was commercially released on 20 Sep 1982 by Columbia Records.

Bruce Springsteen -- Nebraska
Bruce Springsteen -- Nebraska

Nebraska features 10 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 40:50.

Other Official Releases

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Other versions of USED CARS were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Brendan Byrne Arena, New Jersey 1984
The live 05 Aug 1984 version of USED CARS was released on the Brendan Byrne Arena, New Jersey 1984 official live download in 2015.

Live History

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Covers

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Various artists -- Badlands - A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska
Various artists -- Badlands - A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska

CD - Sub Pop (SPCD 525) - USA, 2000
CD - Sub Pop (9878-70525-2) - Germany, 2000
CD - Sub Pop (WPCR-10845) - Japan, 2000

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. is performed by Ani Difranco.
Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

3xCD - Good Sounds (DM 797-02) - Spain, 2003

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. There are six issues of this album (with three track configurations) and this track was only included on the issue listed above. USED CARS is performed by Paul Fuster.
The Bruceband -- Nebraska Electric
The Bruceband -- Nebraska Electric

CD - Stemra (88690-2) - Holland, 2008

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Lorenzo Bertocchini -- Hearts Of Stone: Some Bruce Springsteen Songs
Lorenzo Bertocchini -- Hearts Of Stone: Some Bruce Springsteen Songs

CD - no label (GOMB 16) - Italy, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Various artists -- Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool: A Global Pop Tribute To Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool: A Global Pop Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - Where It's At Is Where You Are (WIACD20) - UK, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. USED CARS is performed by Swedish Chef.
Jon Bingham -- Deliver Me From Nowhere
Jon Bingham -- Deliver Me From Nowhere

Digital album - no label (no catalog number) - USA, 2012

This is a free download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Various artists -- Long Distance Salvation: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska
Various artists -- Long Distance Salvation: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska

LP - no label (no catalog number) - USA, 2012
Digital album - no label (no catalog number) - USA, 2012

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album, available in downloadable digital form and on limited edition colored vinyl. The digital version contains three tracks not found on the LP issue. USED CARS is performed by Strand Of Oaks.
Various artists -- Return To Nebraska
Various artists -- Return To Nebraska

Digital album - no label (no catalog number) - Holland, 2012

This is a free download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album. USED CARS is performed by Ro Halfhide.
Various artists -- The Nebraska Sessions - A Tribute
Various artists -- The Nebraska Sessions - A Tribute

CD - Clubhouse Records (no catalog number) - UK, 2012
Digital album - Clubhouse Records (no catalog number) - uk, 2012

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album, available in downloadable digital form and on CD. The digital version contains two tracks not found on the CD issue. USED CARS is performed by The Cedars.
Pony Face -- Pony Face Presents Nebraska
Pony Face -- Pony Face Presents Nebraska

2xLP - Cobra Snake Necktie Records (unknown catalog number) - Australia, 2014
CD - Love & Theft Recording Co. (LNT022) - Australia, 2014

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Available Versions

List of available versions of USED CARS on this website:

USED CARS [Album version]

Page last updated: 10 Jan 2016