Jealous Haters Since 1998!
Home | News | Reviews | Day In Rock | RockNewsWire | Singled Out | Tour Dates/Tix | Feeds

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.

.
Bruce Springsteen's hit album Born in the U.S.A. celebrates its 30th anniversary this week and to celebrate we take a look back at Tony K's feature about the album from our Bruce Springsteen month in 2009.

Here is Anthony Kuzminski's review of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. The granddaddy of all Bruce Springsteen albums, Born in the U.S.A. was where he finally broke through to the mainstream in an immense fashion. Back in the mid-1980's, I was too young to appreciate the music of the time, but even I knew who Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen were. Springsteen went from being a cult artist with an intensely loyal following to one of the biggest music stars on the planet. However, what many don't realize is that towards the end of The River tour, Springsteen could sell-out multiple nights in arenas in every major market in the US, but despite this, he had only four Top-Forty hits and only one Top-Ten hit. That was about to change. By January of 1986, Born in the U.S.A. had seven Top-Ten singles and had sold over ten-million copies in the US alone. Up to that point, only Michael Jackson's Thriller had accomplished such a feat and only one album since. Besides the album hitting the number-one slot, a more impressive feat was that it spent thirty-six straight weeks in the top-three, fifty-three weeks in the top-five and eighty-four weeks in the Top-Ten. Up to this point in his career, Springsteen had been extremely conscious of his image and how he was packaged and marketed. However, with the release of Born in the U.S.A. he loosened the reigns a bit and relished in its success.

Birthing Born in the U.S.A. proved to be an extended labor. The U.S.A. sessions began in the early part of 1982 and when they wrapped in the spring of 1984, over one-hundred songs had been recorded. Let me repeat that…not written, but one-hundred different and unique songs were recorded. The magic number of "100" is up to debate and whether or not it includes the Nebraska material is questionable, but regardless, Springsteen took two years to find the right twelve songs that incorporate Born in the U.S.A. Ironically, eight of the twelve final songs were recorded in a two-week sprint in the spring of 1982. Only one song from 1983 made the final cut ("My Hometown") and the final three ("No Surrender", "Bobby Jean" and "Dancing In The Dark") were cut in late 1983 and early 1984. The last one, "Dancing In The Dark" relied on a heavy synth melody, and rocketed to #2 on the charts (kept from the #1 spot by Prince's "When The Doves Cry"). Finding a track list proved to be nearly impossible and the entire band was asked to make lists, as was management. Ironically, one song that wound up on everyone's list "This Hard Land" was left off and wouldn't see an official release for over two-decades. In the end, Jon Landau concocted a track listing that may have been questionable and is debated to this day, but is hard to deny as it houses twelve near perfect compositions, all orgasmic spiritual pop epiphanies.

Noticed is served immediately as the album opens with the title-track, "Born in the U.S.A."; my vote for the single greatest recording the E Street Band ever committed to tape. It's so reverberating and conquering that everyone let the music pry their attention away from the lyrics. For years (and to this very day), it is mistaken for a patriotic anthem. It's a sacred song about how the Vietnam Veteran was forgotten about by everyone defending our liberties. These are individuals who gave not just their bodies, their dreams and their futures for us, but their psyches as well. The song originated from the original Nebraska tape from that cold January morning in 1982 (this version was released eventually on his box set Tracks in 1998). It wasn't deemed worthy enough for that album and was forgotten about by just about everyone, except Springsteen. He came into the recording studio one day with an idea for it and everyone was surprised as they had largely thought it was out of contention for not having a chorus that was strong enough. Taking their respective spots in the studio, the band tore through the song like a hurricane. Everything Springsteen and the E Street Band had been working towards since they started the Born To Run album in 1974, led to this moment. Four takes were made with minor variations, although the first one could have been used on record. The band transcended Springsteen's lyrics to heights no one imagined is a musically muscular manner. A quarter of a century later, I can feel the walls shake, a mean eye and the anger of a Vet emit forth by the musicianship. This was the E Street Band's most magnificent and supreme moment. Few songs roar of out speakers the way this one does.

"Cover Me" is aurally delightful with a rather incendiary guitar solo. The second of the Top-Ten hits from the album, originally written for Donna Summer, this was one Jon Landau fought for and won. "Darlington County" has a magnificent honky-tonk rhythm to it while "Working On The Highway" has a rapid two-fisted drum beat that elicits air drums at their finest. These three songs evoke many of the same themes Springsteen has covered before, but better on previous releases. The sonics may be a tad more luminous, hence their incalculable acceptance. I largely loved these songs initially but now find them to be weak links in Springsteen's songbook. Also, it doesn't help that I can think of about a dozen songs from these sessions that would have worked better; "Murder Incorporated", "This Hard Land", "My Love Won't Let You Down", "None But The Brave" and "Pink Cadillac" to name a few. Alas, if you ask one-hundred Springsteen fans to make their own U.S.A. track list, I can guarantee you that it no two lists would be alike.

"Downbound Train" is another song left over from the Nebraska sessions and this is another example of how the E Street Band can take a demo that I didn't feel that had potential but turned it into a provoking and gut-wrenching ballad. There same desperate atmosphere that matches the chilliness of Nebraska's best tunes can be found here, but it's lyrics are heightened by a lingering and mystical synthesizer that does as much for the song as any of the lyrics, especially this one; "I ran till I thought my chest would explode". "I'm On Fire" is another E Street treat finding the band in the most subtle of moods allowing the song to breathe. This was a song that easily could have been overproduced but its damn near perfect as Bruce's plain picking of his guitar, Weinberg's delicate rhythm paired with Roy Bittan's synthesizer creates an underlying sexual tension only hinted at in the lyric. The E Street Band made the tension a reality.

"No Surrender" should have been one of the album's singles. It's a tour de force delivery infused with a world of hope and determination. Springsteen's work always has an undercurrent of anguish, because that is what life entails. However, Steve Van Zandt convinced Springsteen otherwise. Rock n' roll doesn't always have to be brutally truthful. At times it has to be inspirational, buoyant and blazing. "No Surrender" makes one believe in the power of rock n' roll and its ability to heal the human spirit. "Bobby Jean" is an incandescent ode to friendship and a striking love letter to someone who has left. Springsteen fans have such an immense love/hate relationship with the song that it's difficult to write about. While I never need to see the song performed live ever again (it's been performed at over five-hundred concerts going back to 1984)

Now we went walking in the rain talking about the pain from the world we hid
Now there ain't nobody nowhere nohow gonna ever understand me the way you did
Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there'll be a radio playing
And you'll hear me sing this song
Well if you do you'll know I'm thinking of you and all the miles in between
And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind
But just to say I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean

Memories shape our souls and friendships define who we become. We have all had to say goodbye to someone at some point in our lives. I often thought about an ex-girlfriend in college whom I am not even sure if she knew this song existed. But whenever I would drive around and this song popped up on a mix tape, I'd sometimes hold the tears back, because she would never understand or know how I felt about her. She couldn't be bothered and my love went unrequited. We all wonder if these people give us a second thought and if time has taught me anything, it's that age softens the heart and at somewhere down the line, they will think about you. Regardless of how I feel about this song today (often referred to as "Bobby F**king Jean" by the die-hards due to its constant inclusion in shows), I can't deny that it help mend my heart at some point in my life.

"I'm Goin' Down" was recorded in that initial batch of songs from 1982 and forgotten about until it was an eleventh hour replacement for "Pink Cadillac" (which was delegated to b-side status). This song became the sixth Top-Ten hit for the record. Despite its abundance of hooks and fist pumping chorus delivered with joyous conviction, Springsteen has said it is "the saddest song" he ever wrote. The narrator is head over heels in love with a girl, gives his all to her and despite this, he knows something is wrong; "I pull you close but when we kiss I can feel a doubt", he knows that their love is on the rocks and he longs for the time where he made her feel differently. "I remember back when we started, my kisses used to turn you inside out". This is a relationship headed for doom even amidst the garage rock innocence of the band's delivery. "Glory Days" is so drenched in nostalgia, that when you open the dictionary to this word, "Glory Days" should start blaring. That being said, it's hard to resist and is the songs my friends most want to see in concert after "Thunder Road".

"Dancing In The Dark" is the album's most maligned and most misunderstood song. The album was done when Jon Landau told Springsteen that the album needed a sure fire hit as the first single. Springsteen found this request anything but humorous. His attitude was "I've written one-hundred songs, if you want a hit, you write it". Despite his contempt, Springsteen went home that night and wrote a truly great isolation anthem. The shiny and bright tune is led by a hook and melody that is instant and memorable with a modern touch. The synthesizer that rules the song is immense, but as I listen to it twenty-five years after initially being recorded, it doesn't sounded dated to me, instead it's celebratory. Like many of the songs on Born in the U.S.A.", people let the music submerge the insightful lyrics. "Man I'm just tired and bored with myself, hey there baby, I could use just a little help". This is the same narrator who has appeared throughout all of Springsteen's work. In a different arrangement, this could have been a brooding ballad on The River or a tale of heartache on Nebraska in a more restrained arrangement, but it bursts through the door here on U.S.A. and it's one of Springsteen's finest lyrics. This character had previously been broken and defeated on earlier works, but here he is taking control of his life and acknowledging the mundane nature of his life. The lyrics of "You can't start a fire without a spark" and "I'll shake this world off my shoulders" finds Springsteen maturing and discovering that he alone can sometimes force the outcome of his life. In recent years, "Dancing In The Dark" has been redrawn as a raving and rocking anthem that holds no prisoners. No matter how many times I see it, it's hard to deny its doe-eyed sincerity and determined optimism.

Concluding the album is the nostalgic "My Hometown". Once again, Springsteen indulges his social commentary and draws from personal experience about memories of his hometown, the good and the bad. Race riots, closing of textile mills, lost souls who want to escape all make appearances however; it's the opening and closing verses that prove to be the most revealing. The song opens with the narrator as a child driving on his father's lap through the town and at the end; the narrator is thirty-five with a son of his own. The circle is complete.

While Born in the U.S.A. may be Springsteen's most popular and best selling record, by no means is it his best. There's two ways to look at the album; you can let the overt commercialism impact your opinion or look at the album as what it truly is; one of the greatest rock n' roll albums ever made. However, it's not necessarily one of Bruce Springsteen's best albums. I'm not saying that because of its success, it's just that while it's a deafening collection of anthems and the E Street Band is at their most robust and celebratory, it doesn't quite hold the same emotional weight of his earlier work. Alas, it's also one of the reasons it's so resounding and prevalent, Springsteen streamlined his work and made it more palatable. The characters inner vulnerabilities and heartache are camouflaged by exultant music. This isn't a titanic problem, but I still can't help but feel that the overall themes that lived inside each of Springsteen's first six records are missing here. Born in the U.S.A. is a buffet of styles and songs that rock out without common ground. However, in the end, sometimes rock n' roll is best served at its most rocking and resounding and Born in the U.S.A is the filet mignon of rock records, even if it's a collection of great songs rather than a collective thematic work of art.


Share this article


tell a friend about this review

.


...end




.
News Reports
.
• Day in Rock:
Foreigner's Jones and Gramm Reuniting For New Music- Sharon Osbourne Slams U2- Robert Plant Dismisses Led Zeppelin Bonus Songs- Rolling Stones Opening The Vault- more

• Day in Pop Miley Cyrus Faces Possible Jail Time For Twerking Incident- Chris Brown Humbled By Jail Experience- Kanye West Went Into The Studio With Lorde?- George Hamilton IV RIP- more

• B-Sides: Some Pop Stars Are Porn Stars Trying To Make Records Says Music Icon- Megadeth Video From Back In The Day Finally Released- alt-J Streaming New Album Online- more

 Subscribe To Day in Rock

.
 
Reviews
.

• Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain

• MorleyView: From Light Rose The Angels

• Death - Leprosy

• Road Trip: Under the Volcano: Fun Erupts on Star Flyer Cruise to Nicaragua

• Godsmack - 1000hp

• Rock Reads: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day- Teenage News Issue 2

• The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story

• Devo - The Men Who Make the Music

• Hot In The City: Voodoo Sex Cult's A Year and a Day

• Anthrax - Chile on Hell

• Rock Reads: Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James

• The Chimpz - Self Titled EP

• On The Record: Kodacrome - Aftermaths

• Kyle Hollingsworth - Speed of Life

• Meridian - The Awful Truth

• Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - Thick as a Brick - Live in Iceland

• ZZ Top - Live at Montreux 2013


.
.
.

Search for Tickets

Or Browse For Tickets

.
.
Today's Rock News
.

• Foreigner's Jones and Gramm Reuniting For New Music (top story)

• Sharon Osbourne Slams U2 (top story)

• Robert Plant Dismisses Led Zeppelin Bonus Songs (top story)

• Rolling Stones Opening The Vault For New Releases (top story)

• Bruce Springsteen To Do Stand Up Comedy At Benefit (top story)

• Rob Zombie Almost Done With New Album (top story)

• Teaser Trailer For Slipknot's Corey Taylor's Upcoming Film Released (top story)

• Paul McCartney Announces New Collector's Edition (top story)

• Ace Frehley Announces New Band Lineup (top story)

• Robert Wyatt Releasing Rarities and More In November (top story)

• Ghost Won't Make Mistake Of Haunting Fans Too Long (top story)

• Adrien Belew Reveals More Flux Project Details (top story)

• Threshold Streaming New Album 'For The Journey' Online (top story)

• Paradise Lost May Be Returning To Their Heavier Roots (top story)

• Foo Fighters Get Their Very Own Day in Richmond, VA (top story)

• Be-Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson To Receive Home Town Honor (top story)

• Fleetwood Mac In The Studio For Tusk 35th Anniversary (top story)

• Devin Townsend Announces Tour Dates and Previews New Album (top story)

• Alice Cooper Leads Little Kids Rock Benefit Lineup (top story)

• Northlane Lose Their Voice (top story)

• Metal Singer Thinks U2 'Are A Violation Of People's Rights' (top story)

• Slipknot Reveal Their New Masks (top story)

• Jack White Slams Rolling Stone (top story)

• Special Linkin Park Concert To Be Filmed For TV (top story)

• Machine Head Postpone Upcoming North American Tour (top story)

• Gregg Allman To Receive Living Legend Award (top story)

• KISS Expanding Love Gun For Deluxe Reissue (top story)

• Symphony X Going Back To Classic Sound On New Album (top story)

• Aeges Streaming New Album 'Above & Down Below' Online (top story)

• Bush Remastering Early Albums For 20th Anniversary (top story)

• Enchant Explain Their 10 Years Of Silence (top story)

• Dio Cancer Fund Gives $100K To Cancer Center (top story)

• Sylosis Reveal Lineup Change (top story)

• Bring Me The Horizon Revitalized After Rehab (top story)

• The Ghost Inside Releasing New Album This Fall (top story)

• Fear Factory Frontman Inspired By L.A. Riots (top story)

• Five Finger Death Punch Star Says There Is Hope For Addicts (top story)

• Queen Release Killer Queen Vodka (top story)

• Madison Square Garden's Owner Opening For The Eagles (top story)

• 1349 Announce UK Fall Tour (top story)

• Motley Crue Plan Very Special Final Show (top story)

• Slash Streaming New Album Online (top story)

• Sammy Hagar Forced To Cancel Birthday Bash Shows (top story)

• Gene Simmons Weighs In On Ray Rice Controversy (top story)

• Rush Confirm R40 Box Set Details (top story)

• Metallica Announce Live Releases and Box Set (top story)

• The Doors Lost Documentary Surfaces (top story)

• Anthrax's Next Album To Be Far 'Thrashier' (top story)

• Stars Lined Up To Tribute George Harrison Next Week (top story)

• David Bowie Pens Liner Notes For The Kinks Release (top story)

• Lenny Kravitz Releasing Limited Edition Strut Box Set (top story)

• Five Finger Death Punch's Jeremy Spencer Thought He Was Dying (top story)

• Ex-Fabulous Thunderbirds Star Heartbroken Over Record Stores Demise (top story)

• Ace Frehley's Former Bandmate Shocked By Dismissal (top story)

• Andre 3000 Almost Quit Jimi Hendrix Biopic (top story)

• Joe Perry Says They Gave Fans What They Asked For With Last Album (top story)

• Transatlantic Releasing KaLIVEoscope Next Month (top story)

• King Diamond Felling Better Than Ever (top story)

• Bloodbath Reveal Who They Recruited As New Singer (top story)

• HIM Planning Limited-Edition Retrospectives (top story)

Subscribe to Day in Rock Report by Email

.
.
Today's Pop News
.

• Miley Cyrus Faces Possible Jail Time For Twerking Incident (top story)

• Chris Brown Humbled By Jail Experience (top story)

• Kanye West Went Into The Studio With Lorde? (top story)

• Grand Ole Opry Star George Hamilton IV Dead at 77 (top story)

• Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea Unleash Booty Video (top story)

• Aretha Franklin's New Album Coming This Month (top story)

• Avicii Releases New Song 'The Nights' for FIFA 2015 (top story)

• Dr. Dre Rethinks Detox (top story)

• Prince Releases New Song Funknroll (top story)

• Kacey Musgraves Gearing Up For New Album (top story)

• Rich Homie Quan Releases New Song This Moment (top story)

• Controversial Aaliyah Biopic Coming This Fall (top story)

• Ryan Adams Shares His Point Of View With My Wrecking Ball Video (top story)

• Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Selling Mansion For $11 Million (top story)

• will.i.am Launches ill i. Optics Eyewear Line (top story)

• Migos Returns To Atlanta Roots In New Track (top story)

• Portland, Maine Offers To Help Tim McGraw Find The City (top story)

• Cam'ron Taps 2 Chainz For New Song Snapped (top story)

• Iggy Azalea Sues Ex-Boyfriend Over Leaked Music (top story)

• Patti LaBelle Accused Of Ordering Bodyguard To Beat Cadet (top story)

• Garth Brooks Adds Halloween Show to Comeback Tour (top story)

• Beyonce and Jay-Z Making Album Together? (top story)

• Nick Jonas' Girlfriend Stars In His New 'Jealous' Video (top story)

• Nicole Scherzinger Releasing New Album Big Fat Lie Next Month (top story)

• Lady Antebellum Release Funky New Song Freestyle (top story)

• Interpol Release 'Twice As Hard' Video (top story)

• Dolly Parton Corn Maze Announced (top story)

• Kendrick Lamar Releasing New Song (top story)

• Bono and Liam Neeson Writing Screenplay (top story)

• Chris Brown Freestyles Over Schoolboy Q's 'Studio' (top story)

• Darius Rucker Talks New Album Homegrown Honey (top story)

• Jessie Ware and Miguel Team Up On New Track (top story)

• Video of Bill Murray Dancing to 'Turn Down for What' Goes Online (top story)

• Imagine Dragons Release New Song In League of Legends Game (top story)

• Demi Lovato Talks Keeping Her Show Fresh and More (top story)

• Jamie Foxx Releases New Song With 2 Chainz (top story)

.
.
Latest B-Sides News
.

• Some Pop Stars Are Porn Stars Trying To Make Records Says Music Icon (top story)

• Megadeth Video From Back In The Day Finally Released (top story)

• alt-J Streaming New Album 'This Is All Yours' Online (top story)

• Weezer Pull A U2 And Give Away Song Via Phone Maker (top story)

• Me Vs Hero Release 'Heisenberg' Live Video (top story)

• Tom Petty And Steve Winwood Jam Classic Songs In Concert (top story)

• Dream Theater Release 'Strange Deja Vu' Live Video (top story)

• U2 Release 'Songs of Innocence' Behind-the-Scenes Footage (top story)

• Foo Fighters Perform With Cover Band Frontman (top story)

• Yes Premiere 'I've Seen All Good People' Live Video (top story)

• Queen's Roger Taylor To Receive Honorary Doctor Of Music Degree (top story)

• Beastie Boys' Mike D Discusses His New Home Design Interest (top story)

• Foo Fighters Release Preview Of Upcoming TV Show (top story)

• Bush Frontman On What Will Revive Rock (top story)

• Billy Idol Premieres New Song Can't Break Me Down (top story)

• Glen Drover and Todd La Torre Release Discordia Lyric Video (top story)

• Sanctuary Streaming New Song Online (top story)

• Leaves' Eyes' Liv Kristine Previews New Solo Album (top story)

• Queen Release Killer Queen Video From Live At The Rainbow '74 (top story)

• Marillion's Steve Rothery Previews New Solo Album (top story)

• Monuments Release Atlas Video (top story)

• Sonata Arctica Streaming New Version of Kingdom For A Heart (top story)

• Bob Dylan's Songwriting Evolution Animated (top story)

• Dee Snider Challenges Gene Simmons' Claim (top story)

• Glenn Hughes and Bruce Dickinson Jam Deep Purple Classic (top story)

• Jack White Releases Would You Fight For My Love Video (top story)

• Video From Foo Fighters London Club Show Goes Online (top story)

• The Doors Preview Feast Of Friends Documentary (top story)

• Katatonia Release Live Video From Upcoming DVD (top story)

• New Found Glory Release Ready and Willing Video (top story)

• The Dead Daisies Fans Help Create Face I Love Video (top story)

• Heaven's Basement Deliver Lights Out In London Video (top story)

• Accept Release Live Video From Woodstock Festival (top story)

• David Lee Roth Previews Next The Roth Show Episode (top story)


More News

.
 
anti Worthy Links
.
• AudioNationRadio.com • The Screen Door • A Journal of Musical Things • Lloyd Zeffler blog • Demolish Mag • Nightwatcher's House of Rock • CJ Chilvers • Deja Voodoo • The 1st Five • thecopycat.biz • Hard Rock Memorabilia • Day in Rock @twitter

.
  .
.

Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!
Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!



 

Tell a Friend about this page - Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2014 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved. antiMusic works on a free link policy for reprinting of our original articles, click here for details. Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.