Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "State Trooper" (1982)

I’ve always loved the tension that builds up in this little ticking bomb of a song. The sparse yet insistent guitar, the unhinged shouts and howls, and a man carrying that one secret that’s been with him for a long, long time:

…the only thing that I got’s been both’rin’ me my whole life

Every time I listen to Nebraska, “State Trooper” makes me think about all of the stories that are carried around in the cars passing by. Surely some of them are just like this one. It’s a perfect and spooky vignette, where Bruce sets up a simple scene that’s played out in our guy’s head as he drives through the industrial night. It feels like something is about to happen. And years later, it still does.

Next up: Used Cars

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at