BEHIND THE SONGS – BLOG 12

BORN IN THE U.S.A. – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

Released as the first single from Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” album (1984) the title track was one of seven singles released from the album that became a top ten hit on the American billboard charts. This feat was only equalled by Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller” album.

A superficial listener might think the song is a flag – waving praise to America however the song is actually a wry and somewhat caustic commentary on the hypocrisy of patriotism. Incumbent US president Ronald Reagan was one of those who was fooled (why aren’t I surprised ?) and approached Springsteen to use it as a theme for his 1984 election campaign against Walter Mondale. Springsteen, an ardent democrat, refused.

The song recognizes the plight of unfortunate foreign peoples suffering in a questionable war, while paying tribute to Vietnam veterans who served their country, some of whom were Springsteen’s friends, some of who did not return from the conflict. It also protests the hardships Vietnam veterans faced upon their return from the war.

Springsteen wrote “Born In The USA” about the working class man, who in Springsteen’s words was facing a “spiritual crisis” in which man is left lost. It’s like he as nothing left to tie him into society anymore. He is isolated from the government, from his job and isolated from his family to the point where nothing makes sense, Springsteen further explains.

“Born In The USA” peaked at # 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles in late 1984. It was also a # 5 hit on the UK singles chart and a # 2 hit on the Australian charts. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the 59th greatest rock song (out of 500) to come out of the twentieth century.

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