Posted by: Andy | May 15, 2008

95% albums: Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA

“But wait,” you say “isn’t Andy a punker?” Well, not really, although you might think that by the other albums I’ve got in my 95% bracket. I love music, in all its glori–no wait, in about 70% of its glorious forms. And rock’n’roll happens to be a nice chunk of that. And this happens to be one of the records I grew up on; I remember my dad had this cassette and CCR’s Chronicle I in his truck. Not that nostalgia = greatness, but this is great.

Falling in 1984 between two very different albums (Nebraska-1982 & Tunnel of Love-1987), this album seems to share the somewhat bleak outlook of Nebraska and some of the up-tempo-ness of Tunnel of Love. If you want to try and find a way to label it as a bridge between them that is. I don’t feel that need, but I thought I would point at it and wave.

Every song on here could have been a single – and indeed 9/12 tracks on here were released as singles – and they ALL broke the Billboard top 10. Not that charts mean anything, but for a rock album to have that many top 10 singles? That’s pretty miraculous. I can’t even think of an album in my conscious memory that had that many singles. Hell, that’s more listenable songs than are on many albums.

I am annoyed that John Jerry used No Surrender as his campaign song, because that’s my favorite song off the album, and John is a douche. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all. Funnier is Reagan’s rather famous usage of Born in the USA…whose lyrics he most not have even read because, while this may sound like a happy go US song, it’s really a bleak portrait of a Vietnam vet’s life after his return home. Wise choice Ronnie, wise choice.

Overall I’d put this album on par with Energy as near-perfect, well past 95%, 98% even – beyond that I can’t fine tune it. In some ways it’s stronger – as the result of years of refinement in artistry and touring, in other ways Energy is stronger – as a genre-creating/defining sound created by young kids with comparatively little experience.

Here’s the (I think, I don’t actually remember so I couldn’t verify) original Born in the USA video:

Go 80s headbands & jeans!!

And here’s how he often plays it now (and evidently how it was intended to be performed, supposedly he was talked into speeding it up for the album version or something.  I like both versions; different aspects shine through in each variation.):

Here’s a live version of Downbound Train (a little like a Nebraska track on steroids):

Crummy video quality I know, but It seemed to have better sound than some of the others I found. Here’s a random cover I found by the Cardigans (a very underrated band that consistently puts out excellent albums):

I have to say though, this is not one of their better covers – it’s good, but not great. Although I’ve never heard them live before, maybe they are better on disc than in person? Who knows, I’d like to see them someday…but I’m aiming to see Bruce first. Hopefully he comes through here on the next tour!! And he’d better bring the damn E-Streeters…I passed on seeing him when he was on his solo acoustic tour because I have a feeling I’ll only get to see him once and I want to make it count.

Shit, that’s a lot of videos. Here’s one more for kicks. Eddy Vedder doing a pretty decent cover of No Surrender:

I love that song, it’s been a sort of mantra for me for years. Simple, and to the point, but still managing to have very evocative imagery.

I’ve been tempted to work it into some kind of tattoo. I still may.



  1. I am not qualified to comment on Springsteen (apart from my love of Max Weinberg), but the Cardigans are pretty fuckin’ awesome. And not punk either, hiiiiyooo!


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