I’m a hardcore Bruce Springsteen junkie but every year around this time I remember how much I fucking hate the song Born in the USA.
The song blares from radios, bar speakers, Fourth of July firework displays and wherever ‘Merican music is needed.
The song was released in 1984 and was the biggest single off the massively successful Born in the USA album. Thirty years later and people still haven’t figured out it’s an anti-American anthem. It’s not anti-the-good-ol’-United-States but more a statement on the way American vets were treated upon their return from Vietnam.
In other words, every time the Springsteen song blares overhead during a fireworks finale or World Cup hype session, it’s actually saying “America sucks sometimes.”
I don’t hate the song because of what people think it means or because of what it actually means. I hate Born in the USA because it’s overplayed and it’s a pretty terrible song.
The original version of the song — much slower and way more intense — was originally written for Springsteen’s Nebraska album. It’s available on the Tracks compilation album or on YouTube if you’re cheap. The lyrics are quintessential Springsteen but the belting of “Born in the USA!” is because it’s the title track off the album. It’s common knowledge if an artist yells the chorus loud enough, people tend to ignore the lyrics. Let any Lil’ John song ever be an example. Bruce’s carnal grunt screams are probably why few listeners have caught onto the fact the tune is about as anti-American as any top 40 hit ever.
If Born in the USA comes on the radio I flip the dial. I skip it if it shows up on shuffle. I cringe whenever someone says “I love Springsteen” and calls Born their “favorite Bruce album.” Born in the USA isn’t doesn’t even crack the top five. (Since I’m gonna get shit for that I’ll get this out of the way — 1) Born to Run 2) Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., 3) The Rising 4) Darkness on the Edge of Town and 5) TIE – The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle and The River)
This rejection of a song from my favorite musician of all time led to this discussion in the office — Which song from your favorite artist do you absolutely hate? Tell me in the comments which song is the absolute worst from the absolute best.
Let’s all hate these songs together because it’s the American way.