Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949. His debut album was 1973’s GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J. 1975’s BORN TO RUN was quite popular. In 1984 he released his seventh studio album BORN IN THE U.S.A. on Columbia Records. It was the best selling album of 1985 in the United States and his most successful album ever. It sold 15 million copies in the U.S. and 30 million worldwide. The album produced an incredible 7 Top 10 singles. The iconic front cover was shot by Annie Leibovitz. BORN IN THE U.S.A. was the first compact disc manufactured in the U.S. for commercial release. Previously Columbia had imported its cd’s from Japan. On this album Bruce is joined by the E Street Band comprised of Roy Bittan, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, Steven Van Zandt, and Max Weinberg. Clemons and Federici are sadly no longer with us.
‘Born in the U.S.A.’ is a grassroots rocker that starts the album off on a political note: “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/Till you spend half your life just covering up/Born in the U.S.A./I was born in the U.S.A. (2X)/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”. ‘Cover Me’ is a pop/rock number that finds Bruce yearning for shelter and security: “The times are tough now/Just getting tougher/This old world is rough/It’s just getting rougher/Cover me/Come on baby, cover me/Well, I’m looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me/Promise me baby you won’t let them find us/Hold me in your arms/Let’s let our love blind us/Cover me/Shut the door and cover me”. Richie ‘La Bamba’ Rosenberg performs background vocals.
‘Darlington County’ includes a sax solo and is very cheerful musically. It is a story song that begins like this: “Driving in to Darlington County/Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July/Driving in to Darlington County/Looking for some work on the county line/We drove down from New York City/Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name/Driving in to Darlington City/Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne’s/We drove 800 miles without seeing a cop/We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top”. ‘Working on the Highway’ is a highly clappable, upbeat song. It tells the relatable story of blue collar workers: “Friday night’s pay night, guys fresh out of work/Talking about the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt/Some heading home to their families, some looking to get hurt/Some going down to Stovell wearing trouble on their shirts/I work for the county out on 95/All day I hold a red flag and watch the traffic pass me by/In my head I keep a picture of a pretty little miss/Someday mister I’m gonna lead a better life than this”.
‘Downbound Train’ is a song about losing one’s partner: “She just said ‘Joe I gotta go/We had it once, we ain’t got it anymore’/She packed her bags, left me behind/She bought a ticket on the Central Line/Nights as I sleep, I hear that whistle whining/I feel her kiss in the misty rain/And I feel like I’m a rider on a downbound train”. ‘I’m on Fire’ is a great ballad that finds Bruce sexually charged: “Hey little girl is your daddy home/Did he go away and leave you all alone?/I got a bad desire/Oh, I’m on fire/Tell me now baby, is he good to you?/Can he do to you the things that I do?/I can take you higher/I’m on fire.../At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head/Only you can cool my desire/Oh, I’m on fire”.
The Boss performed the next song ‘No Surrender’ at several John Kerry presidential rallies for the 2004 campaign. This energetic rocker includes these words of determination: “We made a promise, we swore we’d always remember/No retreat, baby no surrender/Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend/No retreat, baby no surrender”. ‘Bobby Jean’ uses sax to good effect, as does the next track. This one finds Bruce missing a dear friend: “Now you hung with me when all the others turned away, turned up their nose/We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we liked the same clothes/Yeah, we told each other that we were the wildest, the wildest things we’d ever seen/Now I wished you would have told me/I wished I could have talked to you/Just to say goodbye Bobby Jean”.
‘I’m Goin’ Down’ is a terrific song that talks of how one partner can emotionally leave a relationship: “I pull you close now baby, but when we kiss I can feel a doubt/I remember back when we started/My kisses used to turn you inside out/I used to drive you to work in the morning/Friday night I’d drive you all around/You used to love to drive me wild/But lately girl, you get your kicks from just driving me down”. ‘Glory Days’ is one of my favourite mainstream rock songs ever. It speaks of how we have a tendency to focus on our past: “Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight/And I’m going to drink till I get my fill/And I hope when I get old, I don’t sit around thinking about it, but I probably will/Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture/A little of the glory of/Well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister/But boring stories of glory days”.
‘Dancing in the Dark’ was the first single from the album. It hit No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A pre-Friends Courtney Cox appears in the music video. This fast-paced pop/rock song finds Bruce longing for companionship: “Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself/Hey there baby, I could use just a little help/You can’t start a fire/You can’t start a fire without a spark/This gun’s for hire/Even if we’re just dancing in the dark”. ‘My Hometown’ is the last song on the album and was the last single from it. This quiet song paints a dismal economic picture that is still relevant today: “Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores/Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more/They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks/Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometown/To your hometown (3X)”.
BORN IN THE U.S.A. is hands down one of the best rock albums of all time! From start to finish there is not a filler song on it. The stories Bruce tells are down to earth, and emotionally delivered. This is an album for blue collar, working class people to be proud of. This album has only gotten better with the passage of time. I’m rating it 98%. For more info visit: www.brucespringsteen.net and www.columbiarecords.com.
ey there bab