Born in the USA
In a Nutshell
It's one of the most iconic – and most misunderstood – songs in rock n' roll history.
Is it the ultimate patriotic (or even jingoistic) anthem, the perfect accompaniment to roaring chants of "USA! USA! USA"? Or is it a bitter protest record, its famous chorus meant as an ironic commentary on a shattered American Dream?
The answer to that question depends on whether you want to hear the song that Bruce Springsteen wrote, or the one that his fans tended to hear. Never has the distance between chorus and verses been so great…
About the Song
|Artist||Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
||Musician(s)||Bruce Springsteen (vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar), Roy Bittan (piano, synthesizer), Clarence Clemons (saxophone, percussion), Danny Federici (organ, glockenspiel, piano), Gay Tallent (bass), Little Steven Van Zandt (rhythm guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals), Max Weinberg (drums).
|Album||Born In The U.S.A|
|Producer(s)||Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
From the moment of its release in 1984, "Born in the USA" became a kind of signature song of the Reagan Era
. Red, white, and blue-clad fans at that year's Summer Olympics in Los Angeles belted out the tune with glee; President Reagan himself asked for permission to use it in TV ads for his reelection campaign. It seemed like the perfect anthem for an era of renewed American patriotism and confidence.
But if you listen to the words of the verses as well as the chorus, you might notice something funny about this famous song: it doesn't really seem to be about the Reagan Era at all. It's a sad song, really, one meant to explore the human miseries of the Vietnam War
and its aftermath. What does it mean that the song that Springsteen wrote and the one that most of us heard were so different?
On the Charts
"Born in the USA" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 US singles chart in late 1984. It was one of seven Top 10 singles to emerge from the Born in the USA
The Born in the USA
album reached the #1 position on the Billboard albums chart in 1984, knocking Michael Jackson's Thriller
out of the top spot. Rolling Stone
magazine ranked the Born in the USA
album #85 on its list of the Top 500 Albums of All Time, and the song "Born in the USA" #275 out of the Top 500 Songs of All Time.