Monday, July 04, 2011

"Born in the USA" was not written for July 4th

Firework shows across the country are wrapped up by now. Bottle rockets, jumping jacks, roman candles and the like will still be going off for quite awhile. Some of the firework shows were probably lame (like the one I saw in Cincinnati) and some were probably awesome (like Navy Pier most likely). Most all of them are set to some type of music.  I can't imagine how many of the shows in our country will include Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"

The most unpatriotic song ever.

"Born in the USA" is about a soldier returning home from Vietnam. When you hear the version of the song that Springsteen used on the album, the music has a celebratory vibe to it. It sounds like it was made for a firework show, or for a political convention.  

But when you hear the original version of the song (it was originally written for his Nebraska album) and go through the lyrics, the heart of the song comes through loud and clear.  It's not one of patriotic celebration, but of disappointment and anger. 

Seeing him live once during an all acoustic tour, I heard Springsteen tell the story behind the song and how it was greatly misinterpreted. The original version comes across with a lot more heart, a lot more power. It conveys the story that was meant to be told. But, as he said before hitting the first chord, there's big money in misinterpretation. 

Not trying to ruin anyone's firework show. It's just one of those stories I think is interesting: how mass misunderstanding made for one of the biggest songs of his career. The album version is great, but I prefer the original. 

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

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man


Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"


I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

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