Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Born in the U.S.A.

It was thirty years ago, on June 4, 1984, that Born in the U.S.A., the album that made Bruce Springsteen a global superduperstar, was released.

Listening to the title cut now, it seems incomprehensible that it was ever misunderstood, that it was possible to be misunderstood. What part of

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that's been beat too much
'til you spend half your life just covering up

is ambiguous in any way? How is that not crystal clear? And those are the very first words he sings on the record.

Looking at video from that massive tour, it's more than a little embarrassing, how close to a parody of himself he already seems...and yet.

The deadly seriousness. The energy. The passion. Other than Howlin' Wolf, James Brown or maybe Iggy Pop, what popular singer had ever bared his soul on stage quite like that, looked so nearly possessed? Sure, with his bandana and bulging biceps and painted-on jeans he may have looked like Rambo with a Tele, but when he moans "oh my god no" at the end, how did anyone convince himself this song was a commercial for blind flag-waving?

[Also, as DT pointed out, thirty years earlier...Elvis Presley was still a month away from recording "That's All Right, Mama."]

1 comment:

  1. This song isn't anti-American or against patriotism. It's about the brutal mistreatment of Vietnam War veterans that drove so many of them to suicide, and what is most important to them. Despite all the song's main character has been through, he is still proud to be "Born In the USA", even when life is rough and he goes to places he never wished he had to go to. His patriotism brought him through some of his worst days, and he's glad he can say that he's born in the USA.