The Day “Born in the U.S.A.” was Born

Born in the USA

On 4 June 1984 American rock singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen released his best-selling album “Born in the U.S.A”.

The title track inspired famous American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz who took a photo of Springsteen’s backside against the backdrop of an American flag, creating a cover that would become iconic.

Bruce’s blue jeans provide the blue in the red, white and blue imagery and give the representation of an American working-class hero, as well as a sex symbol due to his sculpted physique, so different from his previous messy look It was the result of his decision to start exercising and eat less, because, as he said, “I realized that I could get out of shape, and that was bad for my job description!”

Along with his white t-shirt and blue jeans, there is a red baseball cap stuffed into his back pocket: it had belonged to the father of one of his friends and was given to him after the man’s death. Springsteen decided to wear it on the cover of his album, telling his friend that his dad would always live on in music history.

In those years, and even more recently, the song was often misunderstood and welcomed as a patriotic anthem and an exaltation of the American myth. On the contrary, it is an indictment of the government, the military-industrial complex, and the way soldiers were treated … but, as always, people hear what they want to hear.

The lyrics are a bitter reflection on the Vietnam War veterans and the problems they encountered on their return to America, where they were mostly ignored, because Vietnam was the first war the US had not won, while soldiers coming home from other wars received a hero’s welcome. The song tells the story of a minor criminal who gets “in a little home-town jam” and is shipped off to Vietnam, only to return with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), unable to find employment.

With that backdrop, “Born in The U.S.A.” was also a tribute to those who never made it home.

The shot created controversy: was Springsteen facing the flag in admiration, or was it a rebellious gesture? Some even suggested he was urinating on the flag. He denied it: “That was unintentional. We took a lot of different types of pictures, and in the end, the picture of my ass looked better than the picture of my face, that’s what went on the cover. I didn’t have any secret message. I don’t do that very much.”

38 thoughts on “The Day “Born in the U.S.A.” was Born

  1. Good insight. I’m one of those people who listen to the lyrics and try to figure out what they mean. It’s definitely not the kind of patriotic song some people think it is. Nice (and sad, too) about the baseball cap.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A great song about war and disillusionment. These honorable war vets were treated miserably by the anti-war protesters at home. In recent years, more respect has been given to these unfortunate souls.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Molto interessante!! Pazzesco come una sola immagine possa avere cosi tante sfaccettature, persino in forte contrasto l’una dall’altra… but, as always, people see what they want to see… (paragrafando il tuo commento)…😊😊
    Sempre molto graditi i tuoi post, mai niente di scontato o di già noto, complimenti!❤


  4. Ciao. E’ vero, sembra un inno agli stati uniti. Ma io ne avevo subito capito il vero senso, una aspra critica. “…put a rifle in my hand..born in the usa, I was” (praticamente, *prescindendo dalle *parole *testuali: “ci mandano in guerra, c’e la pena di morte, le ingiustizie, i pestaggi, il razzismo… io sono nato in america…”.)
    ” i veterani della guerra del Vietnam e i problemi che incontrarono al loro ritorno in America, dove furono per lo più ignorati, perché il Vietnam fu la prima guerra che gli Stati Uniti non avevano vinto..”. Mi faceva pensare a Rambo, infatti, accolto male al rientro nel suo paese, non gradito. MI fa pensare anche a questo: quando in tv si parlava, con le immagini, della uccisione di George Floyd, mi è venuto spontaneo pensare: “Bruce Springsteen anche su questo caso direbbe “born in the USA, I was”. . Ciao.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ciao. Grazie. Sulle prime non ascoltavo bene il testo (sai, ascoltandola in macchina con degli amici), e sembrava anche a me un inno all’America. Ma poi capito’, sempre con gli amici, che ascoltando Springsteen si parlava di questo “inno”, poi io “ragazzi, forse non e’ un inno, dice “put a rifle in my hands”. – “e allora?”- “Allora e’ una critica, “mi hanno messo un fucile in mano, altro che inno..sentite cosa dice qui….”. Ciao

        Liked by 1 person

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