Born in the U.S.A.
Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen (see lyrics here)
Released: October 30, 1984
First Charted: June 23, 1984
Peak: 9 US, 8 CB, 12 GR, 10 RR, 8 AR, 5 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.2 UK, 3.34 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 101.54 video, 372.18 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Born in the U.S.A.” is a poignant commentary on the mistreatment of Vietnam veterans after returning home from the war. Two scholars wrote in the journal American Quarterly about how the song’s exploration of “the effect of blind nationalism upon the working class.” WK The song was often misunderstood as “a proud patriotic battle cry” SS by those “who heard the anthemic chorus but not the bitter verses.” WK The most famous misinterpretation of the song came from then-President Ronald Reagan. While running for a second term, he gave a speech about the hope one could find in the songs of Bruce Springsteen. WK
Springsteen wrote the song in 1981 under the title “Vietnam,” SF inspired by Born on the Fourth of July, a memoir by Vietnam vet and antiwar activist Ron Kovic. SS When Paul Schrader sent him a script for a movie called Born in the U.S.A. “about a rock band struggling with life and religion” SF Springsteen changed the title of the song. The film – starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett – didn’t get released until 1987. Springsteen had already used the “Born in the U.S.A.” song by then, but wrote a new title song for the retitled movie – Light of Day.
During the home recordings for his Nebraska album in 1982, he recorded a rough, acoustic demo of the song. However, it was decided that the song didn’t fit the rest of the material and that its melody didn’t match its lyrics. An electric version was recorded with the E Street Band that featured Springsteen’s “voice…raw, angry, worn right down to the bone” SS alongside “Roy Bittan’s martial synthesizer and Max Weinberg’s explosive drums.” DM It became the title cut for 1984’s Born in the U.S.A., WK the album where “Springsteen translated his skill with personal, raw, folk-inspired material into ful-title, electric rock & roll.” TC
The song hit the mainstream rock chart soon after the album’s release, but wasn’t officially released as a single until October. By that time, Springsteen had already hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Dancing in the Dark” and “Cover Me.” “Born in the U.S.A.” became the third of the album’s seven top 10 hits.
First posted 11/28/2020; last updated 4/2/2023.