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"Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

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"Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Old 12-22-09, 10:49 AM
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"Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Dissecting the most successful album of his career, 1984’s Born In The U.S.A, let’s talk about the strongest songs, and the weakest.

01. Born in the U.S.A. Throughout the years, I’ve always panned the title track, which opens the album. To me, it’s the least melodic of the 12 tracks, and it sounds like it could have been cut back in the 70’s for “Darkness on the Edge of Town” or even “Born To Run.” Despite how I feel about it, they released this song as a single, and it peaked at #9.

02. Cover Me
I read somewhere that Springsteen wrote this track for Donna Summer, but his manager convinced him to keep it for himself. It’s a strong rocker, definitely one of the best songs on this LP. It was released as a single, and it peaked at #7.

03. Darlington County I like the melody of this song, and I like the tempo…but once I understood “the story” of the song, I feel it is a big mess. The song is about two buddies (one apparently Bruce Springsteen, the other a friend named “Wayne”) who go to New York City to have a good time with $200.00, and to get a job with “a union connection of an uncle of Wayne’s.” The end of the song has Springsteen leaving Darlington County (with, I think, a love interest), leaving Wayne behind handcuffed to a state trooper’s ford. Springsteen deserts his friend singing: “tra-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la, tra-la-la-la, la-la-la.” So much for Wayne.

04. Working on the Highway Another strong rocker, but another with strange lyrics: apparently the protagonist in this story-song is a child molester who tries to run away with a minor, but the minor’s brothers come get the girl, and Springsteen goes to prison, working on the highway. ?

05. Downbound Train
Okay, now we’re back to “normal songs,” and Downbound Train is one of the best tracks on this album. Not a frantic rocker, not quite a ballad – just a nice sad pop song.

06. I'm on Fire
This one became another Springsteen Top 10 hit, peaking at #6 in 1985……and deservingly so. I’m On Fire is what one of my Springsteen-hater friends termed “Beatle caliber,” which means he liked the song.

07. No Surrender
Another strong rocker. Gives the album some muscle.

08. Bobby Jean
This song could be about one of Springsteen’s friends, or it could be about a girl – nobody really knows, but I think it must be about a girl because, towards he end, he says, “just to say I miss you, baby, good luck, goodbye…” I don’t think Springsteen would say that to a guy. I don’t think.
Because of the title of the song, a lot of people just dismissed it as a Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” rip-off, but it has no similarity to Jacksons mega-hit from two years before.

09. I'm Goin' Down
I like this track. I don’t know if Springsteen intentionally garbled his words, or if it was decided later to use his early takes because it made it more of a “fun song?” Either way, it was released as a single and hit #9 on the chart.

10. Glory Days
I wonder if he thinks about this song nowadays, and laments about his time as a 35-year old “teen idol.”
Springsteen can have another shot, I think, at superstardom – if he chose to. He seems to be in his “Nebraska” mode ever since the 1990’s. This #5 hit is one of the album’s standouts.

11. Dancing in the Dark
Springsteen’s manager told him to write a song you can dance to. All the songs for ”Born In The U.S.A” were already done, and the album was almost ready for release, and Landau (his manager) was asking for another song. Springsteen was incensed, but the frustration he felt became Dancing In The Dark, the biggest hit of his career – peaking at No.2 for four weeks (Prince’s ”When Doves Cry” kept him from No.1).
The B-side of his single was ”Pink Cadallic”, a song that was sadly missing from this album.

12. My Hometown
this last track also became the seventh Top 10 hit (#6) from this album, and it is one of the best songs. The B-side was the Christmas classic: “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town,” which probably helped the sales of this single. I mean, who would have bought this single when everybody had the album, if not for the unreleased B-side?
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Old 12-22-09, 12:21 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

I'm not going to get into matters of taste or subjective responses (although since when is it sounds like it could have been cut back in the 70’s for “Darkness on the Edge of Town” or even “Born To Run.” a negative?), but there's a lot of factual information and mishearings in this post...

For example, the "I" in a song isn't necessarily the performer -- in songs like Darlington County, it's a character within a narrative. And you've misread/misheard that narrative -- they don't GO to New York City... listen to it again: it says EXPLICITLY that they drove down FROM New York City.

And as for Bobby Jean -- I'm pretty sure it's common knowledge that this was written for Little Steven as he was leaving the band.

There's more, but that's the gist.
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Old 12-22-09, 12:40 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

"Because of the title of the song, a lot of people just dismissed it as a Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” rip-off, but it has no similarity to Jacksons mega-hit from two years before."

Huh? I've been following Springsteen's career for 30 years and I've never heard this.
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Old 12-22-09, 02:35 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Not a big fan of "Bobby Jean". When I saw Springsteen in '07 I groaned when he started playing it (so many better songs on this recording). Agree that "Pink Cadillac" should have been on the album.
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Old 12-22-09, 03:42 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Bobby Jean is one of the most despised songs of hardcore Springsteen fanatics. They used to rail against it in the springsteen newsgroup (when I had usenet access).
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Old 12-22-09, 03:52 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

From memory (can't really remember "Bobby Jean", sorry.)

01. Born in the U.S.A.
Raging anthem. If the second verse doesn't fire you up, consider shock paddles. A classic, what more can be said. Max Weinberg owns this song.

02. Cover Me
Solid blues rocker. I never really liked it personally, though. The cliche blues guitar licks turn me off. Typically fast-forward material for me.

03. Darlington County
A light but terrific little song. Bruce is in fine rustic style. It's catchy and funny.

04. Working on the Highway
I like the shuffling rockabilly style of this track and Bruce's reverbed/stuttering vocals are terrific. The classic circular structure of the lyrics works well too. Great song.

05. Downbound Train
Fantastic song. I think he should have done it acoustic a la "Nebraska", but it works well with a backing band as well. This is back when Bruce could write a song about desperation without it sounding forced...

06. I'm on Fire
I love everything about this song. One of the best tracks of the entire decade if you ask me. The guitar arpeggios, the steadily clicking drums, the subtle synth washes. It's fantastic. So many bands in the eighties made their careers by trying to replicate this song.

07. No Surrender
Coming out of Downbound Train and I'm on Fire, this is a hugely underrated rocker that fires the album up again. Again Max Weinberg drives this one like a freight train. A great track live.

08. Bobby Jean
Can't remember this track, sorry.

09. I'm Goin' Down
Great late-seventies style blue-collar arena rock track (and I mean that in the best way). Bruce's voice has never been stronger than it was on this track.

10. Glory Days
I never really liked Bruce's third person use of "Mister" as if he's just sangin' a song on the sidewalk, but it works on this track. He gets more than a little folksy on this one, but it works. The track is obviously about nostalgic dissatisfaction, but the bouncy melody works in excellent contrast. It's a definitive "laughing so I don't cry" track.

11. Dancing in the Dark
One of the definitive songs of the eighties. This is up there with I'm On Fire as my personal highlight of this record. It's a downbeat but driving song. The coiled energy of the track makes it seem that much more frustrated and pissed off. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite songs, so it means a lot to me.

12. My Hometown
Ostensibly about the death of small-town America, but I think it's more about assuming adulthood and becoming a parent. As I've gotten older and become a dad myself, this song's meaning has just grown on me. Perfect way to close the album and then start it back up again with "Born in the USA".

Overall, the "big drums n'synth" 80s style production of this album dates it a bit, but I still think this is one of the best albums of all time. After this, Bruce only really had one more straight up classic in him ("Tunnel of Love") before beginning a slow-but-steady downward spiral (IMO).

One thing to remember is that, like "Born to Run", this was a "comeback" album for Springsteen. He'd made a bunch of great records in the late seventies and early eighties, but nothing had come close to selling as well as "Born to Run". He was trying to explode out of the gate and deliver an instant classic that would both fill stadiums and work as a piece of art. Objective attained, if you ask me.

Last edited by Hiro11; 12-22-09 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 12-22-09, 05:58 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

"Pink Cadillac" was a B-side on many of Bruce's CD-singles, as well as his Tracks set and the 18 Tracks CD. It is easy to find a copy if one really wants one.

Another thing worth seeking out were the Arthur Baker remixes of "Dancing in the Dark," "Cover Me" and "Born in the U.S.A." Very different but probably not everyone's cup of tea. They are not on CD but you can probably find them somewhere.

One note of interest: A year before Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen almost released an album entitled Murder, Incorporated but scrapped it in favor of a more commercial album. The track list for the abandoned album would have been:

BORN IN THE USA
MURDER INCORPORATED
DOWNBOUND TRAIN
GLORY DAYS
THIS HARD LAND
MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN
JOHNNY BYE BYE
FRANKIE
I’M GOIN DOWN
WORKING ON THE HIGHWAY
I’M ON FIRE
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Old 12-22-09, 06:17 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

That would have been a solid album (although I think the Born in the USA we got is probably preferable). My Love Will Not Let You Down is one of my favorite songs off Tracks, and Murder, Incorporated is another favorite non-album track.
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Old 12-22-09, 07:32 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by cungar View Post
"Because of the title of the song, a lot of people just dismissed it as a Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” rip-off, but it has no similarity to Jacksons mega-hit from two years before."

Huh? I've been following Springsteen's career for 30 years and I've never heard this.
I always thought David Bowie's BLUE JEAN was a Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” rip-off not this.
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Old 12-22-09, 10:08 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

I'm not gonna go track by track, but Bruce's vocals during the verse on "Born in the U.S.A.", I feel, are some of his strongest ever. I loved the video, it was Patriotic, raw and powerful. To me, it did for Bruce's album what "One" did for Metallica's just a few years later.
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Old 12-23-09, 09:07 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by aintnosin View Post

Another thing worth seeking out were the Arthur Baker remixes of "Dancing in the Dark," "Cover Me" and "Born in the U.S.A." Very different but probably not everyone's cup of tea. They are not on CD but you can probably find them somewhere.
OH, God - how I hated those remixes! Back in 1984-85, I didn't have a CD/tape player, only a radio, and everytime I was jazzed up to hear Bruce on the radio, I got those horrid remixed songs! Oh, that was the craze back in those days, especially on the radio station 95.5 in NY - instead of playing the songs as the artist originally intended, we got remixes you can dance to. Well, I'm no dancer, and I may be no lover, and remixes are not my cup of tea. I'm glad that trend stopped.
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Old 12-23-09, 09:45 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
OH, God - how I hated those remixes!
Relive the nightmare

Sorry, no embed allowed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAcLVcfcPrA
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Old 12-23-09, 09:46 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by aintnosin View Post
"Pink Cadillac" was a B-side on many of Bruce's CD-singles, as well as his Tracks set and the 18 Tracks CD. It is easy to find a copy if one really wants one.

Another thing worth seeking out were the Arthur Baker remixes of "Dancing in the Dark," "Cover Me" and "Born in the U.S.A." Very different but probably not everyone's cup of tea. They are not on CD but you can probably find them somewhere.

One note of interest: A year before Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen almost released an album entitled Murder, Incorporated but scrapped it in favor of a more commercial album. The track list for the abandoned album would have been:

BORN IN THE USA
MURDER INCORPORATED
DOWNBOUND TRAIN
GLORY DAYS
THIS HARD LAND
MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN
JOHNNY BYE BYE
FRANKIE
I’M GOIN DOWN
WORKING ON THE HIGHWAY
I’M ON FIRE
You know, "Born In The U.S.A" would have made a great double-album. Is an artist limited to just one double-album in their career? Obviously they aren't...and it must be hard for any artist to just throw good songs into a can and not release them on an album "due to limited room."

The Beatles only had one double-album, and Springsteen only had one double-album....ah, well. I think fans would have bought "Born in the U.S.A." whether it was a double-album, a box-set, or whatnot. The material was good, Springsteen was in his prime, and we would have had a doubly-good time, not knowing it would be Springsteen's final curtain-call as a "rocker." But what we didn't know in 1984-85 was a good thing. We thought there would be more of the same as the years went on.

Come on, baby, the laughs on me.
-Bruce Springsteen ("Dancing In The Dark")
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Old 12-23-09, 11:02 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

You know, the version of Born in the USA that appears on the album is not how he originally wrote it. It was intended to be a slow, acoustic, haunting kind of song. He didn't intend for it to be the rousing anthem we "know" it as. Of course, in the acoustic form, it would not have sold the way the album version did.

I prefer this version better...perhaps I have grown tired of the album version, who knows...but this is awesome:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7XLeYMUZY4
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Old 12-23-09, 11:15 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

they have the acoustic version of "Born In The U.S.A" on the Tracks box set.
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Old 12-23-09, 12:32 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Maybe it's just because that's how I came to know the song, but I prefer the angry, defiant Born in the U.S.A. of the album to the beaten, broken Born in the U.S.A. he recorded during the Nebraska sessions. But both are great interpretations of a great song.
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Old 12-23-09, 03:41 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
You know, "Born In The U.S.A" would have made a great double-album. Is an artist limited to just one double-album in their career? Obviously they aren't...and it must be hard for any artist to just throw good songs into a can and not release them on an album "due to limited room."
I'm sure double albums were strongly discouraged by the record company. They were more expensive and didn't sell as well. You had to be an artist on the level of Springsteen, The Beatles or Elton John to get away with it.

Springsteen, of course, often recorded many more songs than ever made it onto his albums, especially during the 70s and 80s. I think the ratio on BitUSA was something like eight songs recorded to each one on the album. He wanted songs that fit thematically on the album and would keep generating new material until he got exactly what he wanted (or Jon Landau threatened to strangle him, whichever came first ).

I agree that you could have gotten a good double album (or two good albums) out of BitUSA, and I think The River would have been stronger as a single disc... which it almost was. Bruce was set to release a single disc album called The Ties That Bind in late 1979.
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Old 12-23-09, 06:11 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

When I grew up the only Springsteens songs I "knew" were the Born in the USA ones. And I was never a huge fan but still loved that album. Got a chance to see them for the first time on the 'Magic' tour two years ago at MSG and was sold. Amazing show and I only knew a few songs but every song was played with so much energy, intensity- the band feeding off the crowd, the crowd feeding off the band, it was....magic. It was funny too the first time I heard an arena all shout "Bruuuuce!" - It sounded like they were booing him.
I caught Bruce and the legendary E Street Band again two months ago at Giants Stadium for the final of 5 nights there and he played the whole 'Born in the USA' album and I couldn't have been happier. I would have enjoyed any of the full albums he was doing on this tour but 'USA' was the icing on the cake - that was the album that got him into Giants stadium for the first time in '85
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Old 12-24-09, 11:12 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

People don't like Bobby Jean? It's probably my favorite track on Born in the USA. Why the hate?

Having said that, I hate Glory Days...which seems to be a favorite.
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Old 12-24-09, 01:06 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

I've always hated the song "Born In The USA." It's musically simplistic and annoying as hell. "Glory Days" isn't much better. "Dancing In The Dark" isn't bad though. On the whole this album pales in comparison to Born To Run or Nebraska.

Last edited by Supermallet; 12-24-09 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 12-24-09, 09:13 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

The River, Jungleland, and Racing in the Streets are my favorite Bruce jams. What's with Nebraska, I don't think I ever listened to that disc, is it all acoustic stuff?
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Old 12-24-09, 09:42 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by dvdsteve2000 View Post
What's with Nebraska, I don't think I ever listened to that disc, is it all acoustic stuff?
No, it's not acoustic stuff at all. Nebraska and The River are my favorite Springsteen albums.

I never liked Born In The USA much, but I do listen to "No Retreat, No Surrender" a lot in my runs
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Old 12-25-09, 09:24 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by kuroiinu View Post
No, it's not acoustic stuff at all.
It isn't?
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Old 12-25-09, 10:27 AM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Originally Posted by kuroiinu View Post
No, it's not acoustic stuff at all.
Are you sure we're talking about the same album? Because I'm pretty sure Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska is ALL "that acoustic stuff".

Oh, and it's fabulous.
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Old 12-25-09, 04:22 PM
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Re: "Born In The U.S.A" (album) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - track to track

Maybe I don't understand the meaning of "acoustic." I thought it meant "all instrumental," like Mannheim Steamroller or Yanni music , and Nebraska is very rich in lyrics. What is "acoustic" supposed to mean?
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