Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A
On June 4, 1984, Bruce Springsteen releases his seventh studio album, "Born in the U.S.A."
It's the album that marked the height of Bruce Springsteen's commercial success, with sales of 30 million copies worldwide. The album stayed for 84 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Billboard charts. 7 of the 12 songs on the album have become successful singles and huge "hits" in the top 10 American Billboard, making it one of the most successful albums of all time.
The success story of this album begins somewhere in 1980 when Bruce Springsteen after the tremendous commercial success of the double album "The River". Springsteen called this album a "gateway" to his future writing.
In 1981, Springsteen was asked to write music for a movie that was to be called "Born In the U.S.A." This was while he was working on his solo album "Nebraska", which drew quite a bit from the stories and inspiration of "The River". Springsteen took the music he wrote for the film and merged it into a song called "Vietnam", which he intended to include on the album "Nebraska", from 1982. However, in the end, the film "Born In the U.S.A." was released only in 1987 and was called "Light of Day", so Bruce was left with a song called "Born In the U.S.A.", which deals with the hardships the Vietnam War veterans experienced upon their return home. It was the first song written for the album.
It is interesting to noteת that this was not the only song from the album that was written before the release of "Nebraska". The sessions for the album "Born in the U.S.A." actually began in January 1982, about nine months before the release of "Nebraska". What’s more, most of the songs on “Born In the U.S.A.” were recorded even before the album “Nebraska” was released, they just didn’t fit into the atmosphere and writing themes of “Nebraska”.
Not many know, but Springsteen wrote close to 70 songs for the album, with only 12 of them finding their way into "Born In the U.S.A.". Some of them will later surface in collections of rare tracks and some were released as b-sides, like "Pink Cadillac," which became a hit in its own right.
The secret of "Born In The U.S.A." success is probably the combination of the musical style and writing themes. This can be learned from the very first seconds of the album. Roy Bittan's synthesizer sound and Max Weinberg's snare drum beat (both members of "The E Street Band"), reveal the album's big secret. Melodic and catchy material played with a rich and updated sound, wrapped in a perfect pop-rock production, light years away from the melancholic folk sounds of the previous album. Now add to that the writing topics that get stuck like an arrow in the heart of American society and you have a winning recipe.
This winning combination runs as the second thread between most of the album's songs and at least among all seven singles released from it.
The first single "Dancing in the Dark" was written by Bruce Springsteen out of frustration, about the difficulties of writing a good song that would become a "hit". Ironically "Dancing in the Dark" became Bruce's biggest hit in the US. It was the last song written for the album, after Springsteen manager Jon Landau demanded a "hit". Although Bruce already had about 70 songs in his pocket, he wrote the song that same night, since Landau was not happy with the rest of the songs and demanded the "hit" that would make Springsteen a super-idol (Since Bruce was already an idol). Landau and Springsteen got it with this catchy, melodic synthesizer riff. A wonderful song that was released as a single before the album's release, in May 1984. This song also earned Springsteen his first Grammy, with a plowed clip on MTV featuring actress Courtney Cox (from the "Friends" TV series ), coming up the stage and dancing with Bruce. After this "hit" America no longer had any chance. It was captivated by the boss's charms.
About three months later, Bruce releases "Cover Me" a pop song served on a bed of rock and blues, featuring the sweaty guitars of the boss and Steven Van Zandt and the great Garry Tallent's bass work. Springsteen originally wrote the song for Donna Summer, but his manager, Jon Landau, demanded that it will be included on the album. Demanded and was right! The song entered the top ten on the Billboard charts.
By the time the fourth single was released from the album (the third was the theme song), it was already clear to everyone, that the boss is the hottest thing in music that year. Hottest? He was going up in flames". "I'm on Fire" is a simple but powerful ballad. This is one of the first songs recorded for the album and originated in an impromptu jam session between Bruce Springsteen, keyboardist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg. The production is just perfect and minimalist. Keyboards and guitar touches, the soft beats on the rim of the snare drum, and the brushing technique, make this song a masterpiece.
The fifth single "Glory Days" repeats the perfect formula that combines the sounds of the catchy synthesizer with the guitars. Springsteen sings here about an encounter with an old friend who was a high school baseball player. The encounter did indeed happen. The player is Joe DePug, who was a classmate of Springsteen and played with him on the baseball team.
The first few seconds of "I'm Goin' Down", the sixth single from the album, will surely remind you of "Dire Straits", the rest is not too far away either and it features an interesting Clarence Clemons saxophone solo. Although the single was only released on August 27, 1985 (over a year after the album's release), it was recorded with the "E Street Band" back in May 1982.
The last single released from the album brings Springsteen back to his roots. "My Hometown" is about Springsteen's experiences and memories of his hometown - "Freehold", New Jersey. Bruce does not have many nice things to say about the place. The words are a grim portrait of working-class people at the time Ronald Reagan was the president when many small towns collapsed under the economic burden. Springsteen describes a factory closure in the song lyrics ("They're closing down the textile mill ..."), this prophecy came true when "3M company" closed the factory in his hometown in 1985.
This album kicked off Springsteen's already successful career when the song "My Hometown" establishes his status as the voice of the "working class" in the US. With this unprecedented success, Springsteen embarked on his biggest tour to date. This tour will end up with a set of Five records box called "Live 1975-85", which only proved to the rest of the world what the fans who attended Bruce's shows already knew. Springsteen is the "boss" !!!
And the hand? What about the hand on the iconic cover? Did Springsteen's protest lead him to pee on the sacred flag? We let you decide after you listen to the album.