Meaning of the song Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen

The song Born in the USA (“Born in the USA”) by Bruce Springsteen is one of the more than convincing proofs that the general public prefers not to think about the meaning of the songs, even if it lies on the surface. Many Americans consider it patriotic and hum the words to the chorus on occasion, sincerely proud of belonging to a great nation.

In fact, she does not praise the United States at all, but criticizes the country’s policy towards veterans.

Born in the USA song history

In 1981, director Paul Schrader conceived the idea of ​​making a film about the fictional musical group The Barbusters. The working title of the picture was Born in the USA. He asked Bruce Springsteen to compose the main composition for the soundtrack and invited him to play the lead role.

Bruce, based on the outline of the song Vietnam, wrote the piece that we are talking about now.

It turned out to be so successful that he made it the album’s title track and released it as a single. Soon, Born in the USA was already so strongly associated with Springsteen by the audience that there was no point in using it in the film (especially considering that Bruce refused to act, and Michael J. Fox was approved instead).

But Bruce rescued the director by giving him the composition Light of Day. Accordingly, the title of the drama also had to be changed to “Daylight”, and the song in the film was performed by Joan Jett and Michael Fox. (We will talk about it in a separate article.)

The meaning of the song Born in the USA

Born in the USA is performed from the perspective of a Vietnam War veteran who, upon returning to his hometown, realized that no one needed him. He has no privileges, cannot get a job and does not even hope for a better life in the future. All that remains for him is to remember his dead friends.

One of them fell ill in the battle for the Khe Sanh base. The American military defended it for several months, losing, according to historians, more than seven hundred soldiers. Having defended the fort, the US troops soon abandoned it. Thus, the victims were in vain, like the entire campaign in Vietnam.

It is believed that Bruce partly dedicated the composition to his friends who happened to participate in that war, but the main character does not seem to have a real prototype.

Springsteen explained what the song Born in the USA is about:

[Песня] about a working man… and a spiritual crisis in which he was left alone with himself… It seems that nothing more connects him with society. He is isolated from the government. Isolated from my family… so much so that nothing makes sense anymore.

Recording and release

Born in the USA was recorded at New York’s Power Station (now Avatar Studios). It was released as a single on the Columbia label in October. The song peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot and peaked at number five on the UK Singles Chart.

Somehow Born in the USA, overflowing with bitter irony, has become one of the main American patriotic songs. It seemed that the audience did not hear a word from the verses and only took the phrase “born in the USA” from the chorus.

Moreover, it was cynically adopted by politicians. Ronald Reagan, running for president in 1984, actively used the song in speeches to voters and even recalled its author in his speeches. On this occasion, Springsteen later said:

It was then that the Republicans first mastered the art of bringing to the cause everything that seems fundamentally American. And if you were on the other side, for some reason you were considered not a patriot. I write American music and I write about where I live and who I am in life. This is what I will fight and fight for.

Born in the USA Song Achievements

It became one of the most famous compositions of Bruce Springsteen and entered the 500 greatest tracks of all time according to Rolling Stone. The Recording Association of America included it in their “Songs of the Century” list.

There are a large number of cover versions and parodies of Born in the USA. Even the London Symphony Orchestra performed it.

Born in the USA music video

The music video for “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen was directed by John Sales, who tried to convey the true meaning of the song in the video.

Let’s watch the online clip Burn in the USA – Bruce Springsteen.

Interesting Facts

  • Born in the USA was the first commercially released CD in the USA. Prior to that, the discs were imported from Japan.
  • Chrysler offered Springsteen twelve million dollars for the right to use the song in advertising, but the musician refused.

Born in the USA Lyrics Bruce Springsteen

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
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the USA
I was born in the USA
I was born in the USA
Born in the USA

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
Go and kill the yellow man

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says, “Son if it was up to me”
Went down to see my VA man
He said, “Son, don’t you understand now”

Had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there he’s all gone

He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I’m ten years burning down the road
Now here to run ain’t got nowhere to go

Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA Lyrics

I was born in the wilderness
I got pretty good from the start
And I’ll end up like a dog that’s been beaten too much
While you spend half your life hiding

Born in the USA
I was born in the USA
I was born in the USA
Born in the USA

I’m in trouble in my town
And they handed me a gun
Sent to foreign lands:
Go kill the yellow-faced

Back home, went to the refinery,
The personnel officer said: “Son, if I decided it”
Went to the guy at VA
He said, “Son, you understand”

I had a brother, who is near Khe Sanh,
Fought with the Viet Cong
They’re still there, but it can’t be returned

In Saigon he loved one woman
I have a photo where he is in her arms

From the darkness of the prison cell
I’m snatched up by the fire of the refinery
I have to spend ten years here
But now I don’t have to go anywhere

Born in the USA quotes

In fact, Springsteen’s song, far from being chauvinistic, flushes the “American Dream” down the toilet.

Richard Baskin

It was around the time that Ronald Reagan brought in Born in the USA, and Reagan and his politics represented everything the song complained about.

John Sales, “I Want My MTV”

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