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2023/4 Albums Thing 333 - Bruce Springsteen “Born In The USA”

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This albums title track could very well be one of the most misunderstood songs in America’s history and consequently Springsteen doesn’t play it very often in the USA. Republican President’s Ronald  Reagan and Donald Trump have both either referred to “Born In The USA” or played it at political rallies. The stars and bars are a very powerful symbol in America so to put it on the cover of your album attracts much attention. Springsteen is a proud American but understands its realities. Those Republicans obviously only heard the chorus and saw the flag because if they’d listened to the verses they would have heard Springsteen asking why, for millions of Americans who, like him, were “Born In The USA”, why aren’t things better for them

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

Bruce Springsteen was a huge success by 1984 but Columbia wanted hits both in terms of singles and multi million selling albums. Well they got both from “Born In The USA”, it produced 7 (US) top 10 singles and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It put Springsteen up in the “pop” firmament alongside the likes of Prince and Madonna. Although that first hit single proved somewhat contentious.

Recording had begun in January 1982 and by the start of 1984 Springsteen considered the album finished, but Jon Landau still thought the record lacked a lead single. Springsteen’s response to that was “I’ve written 70 songs for this album, if you want another one write it yourself”. However, two days later in a New York hotel room Springsteen played Landau “Dancing In The Dark”, a hit single about not wanting to or knowing how to write a hit single, that he wrote in 40 minutes. It was recorded the next night and went on to be the worldwide hit that launched “Born In The USA”.

These songs are great, the likes of “No Surrender”, “Bobby Jean”, “Darlington County” and “Glory Days” as well as the title song and “Dancing In The Dark” are likely to turn up whenever you go to a Springsteen gig. But this one isn’t a record I play very often. Because of its very 80’s production I much prefer to hear most of these songs played live where they take on the sound of the band and are much less sterile. Most of them I have available on various live album releases or as part of gigs I’ve downloaded from live.brucespringsteen.net. In fact I have live versions of all but 2 songs (“I’m Goin’ Down” and “Downbound Train”) and when we saw the Wrecking Ball Tour in Ireland in 2013 the album was performed in its entirety.

“Born In The USA” made Bruce Springsteen a global superstar, a celebrity, something that never sat well with him. He played the game, did the year long world tour and made millions of dollars for the record company. The “Born In The USA” tour was where he moved from arenas to stadiums, demand for tickets in Europe was so high he had to and he still maintains he and the band are bigger in Europe than in the US where they still play arenas in the main. Many people’s lasting impression of Springsteen was formed at this time. If Columbia Records were expecting a quick follow up in the same vein they were to be disappointed, they’d have to wait 3 years for another studio album and chest thumping stadium rock it wasn’t.

Born In The USA - https://youtu.be/EPhWR4d3FJQ?si=-DPi-6_VDKdFkD0_

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