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IN-DEPTH
SONG HOME COVER VERSIONS YOUR VIEWS
"Born in the USA"
Bruce Springsteen
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Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen's trademark song has also been his most misunderstood.

Bruce Springsteen's song "Born In The USA" is taken from the phenomenally successful album of the same name which sold more than 20 million copies and remained in the UK album charts for over two-and-a-half years. Springsteen wrote the song in an 80s America that was suffering from welfare cuts and high unemployment and many people took this song to their hearts as a token of national pride.

According to Springsteen, "Born In The USA" was one of those songs that came out of nowhere and took very little time to record. The song first came to light in early 1982 during a demo session that eventually turned into the brooding album Nebraska. A few months later Springsteen was jamming alone with a riff from one of these songs, and when the band turned up they joined in and the song came together very quickly:

"I said, 'Roy, get this riff!'. He just pulled out that sound on the synthesizer [the opening fanfare]. We played it two times and our second take is the record." Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen
"What they missed was the shameful part. The guy in the song was just proud that he lived."


The most distinctive elements of the song are this infectious keyboard riff coupled with Danny Federici's piano chords and the heavy drum beat driving through it. Does the success of the song lie in this simplicity and rawness? Have your say on Springsteen's best-known anthem.


"Born In The USA" has been widely misinterpreted and misused – the strident, anthemic chorus overwhelms the verses, which contain the poignant story of a worn-out Vietnam veteran who can't get a break, despite living in the land of opportunity. Ex-US president Ronald Reagan attempted to co-opt the song – and Springsteen's support – for his '84 re-election campaign, an act that Springsteen was at pains to distance himself from. And when Republican White House contender Bob Dole used "Born In The USA" on his campaign trail in 1996, Springsteen wrote to his local newspaper to make clear that he was not backing the Republican ticket.

Springsteen once compared "Born In The USA" to Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", a song that was written in response to Irving Berlin's patriotic 'alternative anthem', "God Bless America" and has itself been misinterpreted. According to Springsteen, Guthrie's song was "what America could have been about" rather than what it actually turned out to be.

In 1990, Springsteen gave Rappers 2 Live Crew permission to sample "Born In The USA" for their single "Banned In The USA".

I was in the Grand Canyon riding a Harley Davidson


Johnny Walker

  Johnny Walker shares his memory of Springsteen's classic song

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