So here's the story on not only my favourite version of Nebraska but possibly one of my top 5 Springsteen recordings. Years ago I downloaded my first Springsteen bootleg which was an audience tape of Toronto July 24, 1984. Despite the questionable sound quality, I've always been struck by the feel of this show from the opening "Badlands", extended version of "Prove It All Night" (typical for this tour) and Bruce's seemingly relaxed tone. But the reworked "Nebraska" is outstanding and seems to be a hidden gem in Springsteen's live catalougue deserving of more attention.
Although the recording I have is average, the dynamism of the performance is altogether. Dropping the harmonica in favour of a synthesizer/organ to render the melody as well as a different guitar arrangement (which to me sound like "harmonic" notes..?) make the song all the more heart-wrenching and beautiful with those lyrics. I also could have called this the "Non-Harmonica version" In my opinion, this alternative surpasses 'Live 75-85' and that's really making a statement! Due to the sound quality of my Toronto 84, I've tracked down another recording from Chicago 84 where the band used the same arrangement. I'd be SUPER grateful if somebody could direct me to yet another superior version in terms of sound quality. It seems Nebraska The Non-Harmonica Version From 84 is only available from audience tapes.
Here are the YouTube links to the recordings I have (recently created);