It’s taken me about 36 years to figure out that Born In The U.S.A. is a deeply boring song. It’s one of two Springsteen tracks that gets played heavily at our morning bootcamp sessions – the other one being the evergreen banger Born To Run – but I’ve only just started to break Born In The U.S.A. down. It’s funny what starts going through your mind when you’re doing what feels like endless burpees.
Led by a great keyboard riff – DURR durr durr durr durr DURR – the song blows its load in the first few bars. The rest of the band join in, with some big ‘80s drums, and Bruce harps on about joining the army and then coming home to work in a factory. And that’s about it. There’s no change to that DURR durr durr durr durr DURR motif; it does break down at one point, before the rest of the band jump back in, but there’s no variation. The chorus repeats the same musical figure as the verses, and there’s no middle-eight or bridge to speak of. Which is ironic as Bruce could have sung about how he worked on that bridge when he came back from ‘Nam.
A whopping seven singles were lifted from the album over an 18-month timeframe. After the title track, the two better-known ones are Dancing In The Dark and Glory Days, but you have to wonder what they saw in songs like I’m Going Down and My Hometown, aside from a simple drive to keep people buying the record.
The finest song on the album for me is I’m On Fire, a weirdly ominous track about lusting after a ‘little girl’ whose Daddy left her all alone. Aside from the questionable lyrics, it’s the one song that doesn’t sound as ‘stadium rock’ as the rest of the album.
And of course, it sounds better sped up to 45rpm where it sounds like the best song Dolly Parton ever recorded.
Hit: Born In The U.S.A.
Hidden Gem: Downbound Train