About The Song

“Born in the U.S.A.” is one of Bruce Springsteen’s most iconic songs, released in 1984 as the title track of his album of the same name. This anthemic rock song is often misunderstood as a patriotic anthem due to its chorus, but its lyrics actually tell a much more complex and critical story about the American experience, particularly for working-class veterans returning from the Vietnam War.

Lyrics and Meaning: The song opens with a pounding drumbeat and a gritty guitar riff, immediately grabbing the listener’s attention. Springsteen’s gravelly voice then kicks in, singing about a down-on-his-luck protagonist born in the U.S.A. The chorus, which repeats the phrase “Born in the U.S.A.” several times, is often misinterpreted as a celebration of American pride. However, when you delve into the verses, it becomes clear that Springsteen is addressing the struggles of the working class and veterans who were mistreated upon their return from the Vietnam War.

The verses recount the story of a young man who is sent off to fight in Vietnam, only to return home to a country that has seemingly forgotten about him. He can’t find a job, he’s haunted by his experiences in the war, and he feels disconnected from the American dream. Lines like “Got in a little hometown jam / So they put a rifle in my hand / Sent me off to a foreign land / To go and kill the yellow man” reflect the disillusionment and anger felt by many Vietnam veterans.

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Musical Style: Musically, “Born in the U.S.A.” is a high-energy rock song with a strong backbeat and Springsteen’s distinctive raspy vocals. The synthesizer-driven sound, popular in the 1980s, adds a layer of accessibility to the song, making it catchy and memorable. The combination of the driving music and the apparent simplicity of the chorus contributed to the widespread misinterpretation of the song’s meaning.

Impact: “Born in the U.S.A.” became a massive hit, topping the charts and cementing Bruce Springsteen’s status as a rock legend. The song’s popularity was so immense that it was often played at political rallies, even though its message was not particularly patriotic. Springsteen’s frustration with this misunderstanding led him to clarify the song’s meaning during live performances.

In retrospect, “Born in the U.S.A.” is a powerful critique of the treatment of veterans and the struggles of the working class in America. It serves as a reminder that not all is well in the land of opportunity and that there are deep-seated issues that need to be addressed. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to resonate with people from all walks of life who have faced their own struggles and challenges in the pursuit of the American dream.

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Lyric

“Born In The U.S.A.”

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 coverin’ up

Born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A
Born in the U.S.A

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

Born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A

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

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I had a brother at Khe Sanh
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
Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go

Born in the U.S.A
I was born in the U.S.A. now
Born in the U.S.A
I’m a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A. now
Born in the U.S.A
Born in the U.S.A
Born in the U.S.A
I’m a cool rockin’ Daddy in the U.S.A. now

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