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Born in the U.S.A.

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Born in the U.S.A.
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released June 4, 1984
Recorded January 1982 – March 1984
The Power Station and The Hit Factory, New York
Genre Rock, heartland rock
Length 46:57
Label Columbia
Producer Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt
Bruce Springsteen chronology
Born in the U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band chronology
The River
Born in the U.S.A.
Singles from Born in the U.S.A.
  1. " Dancing in the Dark"
    Released: May 4, 1984
  2. " Cover Me"
    Released: July 31, 1984
  3. " Born in the U.S.A."
    Released: October 30, 1984
  4. " I'm on Fire"
    Released: February 6, 1985
  5. " Glory Days"
    Released: May 31, 1985
  6. " I'm Goin' Down"
    Released: September 7, 1985
  7. " My Hometown"
    Released: November 21, 1985

Born in the U.S.A. is the seventh studio album by American rock singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, released on June 4, 1984. A critical and commercial triumph, it found Springsteen marking a departure in his sound. While its predecessor, the dark and acoustic Nebraska, featured songs of pessimism and isolation, Born in the U.S.A.'s lyrics expressed signs of hope in the daily fight of the ordinary American in following the American Dream, a new feeling complemented by synthesized arrangements and a pop-flavored, radio-oriented sound that helped Springsteen to extend his popularity and appeal to mainstream audiences. The album was supported by an enormous commercial campaign that helped create several hit singles, as well as remixes and music videos.

Born in the U.S.A. was the best-selling album of 1985 in the United States (and also Springsteen's most successful album ever). The album produced a record-tying string of seven Top 10 singles (tied with Michael Jackson's Thriller and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814) and also a worldwide concert tour (the two-year Born in the U.S.A. Tour) that was a success. The album was lauded by most critics and is often considered one of Springsteen's finest albums (Rolling Stone magazine rated it the 86th-greatest album of all time, his second on the list) along with his 1975 breakthrough, Born to Run. The scathing condemnation of the title track is often misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem as a result of the repeating chorus. Its cover (a close-up of Springsteen's rear in front of an American flag, as he was photographed by Annie Leibovitz) became an iconic image of the era.


In 1981, Springsteen was asked to write music for a film by Paul Schrader called Born in the U.S.A. (Schrader's movie would eventually be released 1987, entitled Light of Day, featuring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett). Shortly after, when Springsteen was working on a song titled "Vietnam," he glanced at the script and sang the title. The song, entitled as the work-in-progress movie, was already finished during the sessions of Springsteen's introspective album Nebraska, and Springsteen originally wanted to include it on the album. However, it was removed as it did not coincide with the dark feel of the rest of the songs. The same happened with other songs already cut around January or February 1982 – the energetic rocker " Cover Me" and the intimate " I'm on Fire". Between April and May, Springsteen composed and recorded a number of songs specifically intended for an album besides Nebraska at The Power Station in New York – "Born in the U.S.A.", " Darlington County", " Working on the Highway", " Downbound Train", " I'm Goin' Down" and " Glory Days". By mid-1982, most of the album was already recorded over three months before the commercial release of Nebraska. In May 1983, Springsteen cut another song, " My Hometown" at The Hit Factory and around the end of the year he taped the two final tracks originally considered for the album – " No Surrender" and " Bobby Jean".

A last moment addition was " Dancing in the Dark", a song specifically commissioned by Springsteen's producer and manager Jon Landau, who was satisfied with the material recorded but wanted a blockbuster first single, one that was fresh and directly relevant to Springsteen's current state of mind. Landau and Springsteen got into an argument, but later on Springsteen wrote "Dancing in the Dark" with some trepidation. His irked mood from the day's argument combined with the frustrations at trying to complete the album quickly poured out into the lyrics. As he wrote on his 1998 book Songs, "It went as far in the direction of pop music as I wanted to go – and probably a little farther." However, Springsteen noted that "My heroes, from Hank Williams to Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan, were popular musicians. They had hits. There was value in trying to connect with a large audience."

One of the songs that was about to be left off the album was "No Surrender". Springsteen claimed that this was because "you don't hold out and triumph all the time in life. (...) You compromise, you suffer defeat; you slip into life's gray areas." Steven Van Zandt, convinced Springsteen otherwise: "He argued that the portrait of friendship and the song's expression of the inspirational power of rock music was an important part of the picture."

Born in the U.S.A. became the first compact disc manufactured in the United States for commercial release when CBS and Sony opened its CD manufacturing plant in Terre Haute, Indiana in September 1984. Columbia Records' CDs previously had been imported from Japan.


The concept of the album was basically "bring [Springsteen's] message to the largest possible audience." In the wake of the undeniable success of pop music, with Michael Jackson's Thriller as a model example, Springsteen turned to the adoption of a particularly radio-oriented sound for Born in the U.S.A.. This represented a radical change from the dark, intimate, almost-fully-acoustic Nebraska. In some ways, making commercial music was not strange to Springsteen – he already experienced Top 5 success with the 1980 pop-flavored single " Hungry Heart" and was also responsible for " Blinded by the Light", a song that was covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band becoming a #1 hit in the United States in 1977. However, the Born in the U.S.A. project represented his first full attempt to dominate the airwaves. Most of the songs from the album surprised both critics and the public, as it showed the E Street Band using synthesizer for the first time.

Rolling Stone faithfully defined the album's spirit in its 1990 issue that called Springsteen "Voice of the Decade": "Like Nebraska, Born in the U.S.A. was about people who come to realize that life turns out harder, more hurtful, more closefisted than they might have expected. But in contrast to Nebraska 's killers and losers, Born in the USA's characters hold back the night as best they can, whether it's by singing, laughing, dancing, yearning, reminiscing or entering into desperate love affairs. There was something celebratory about how these people face their hardships. It's as if Springsteen were saying that life is made to endure and that we all make peace with private suffering and shared sorrow as best we can." The magazine also pointed that "Springsteen and [producer John] Landau designed the album with contemporary pop styles in mind — which is to say, it was designed with as much meticulous attention to its captivating and lively surfaces as to its deeper and darker meanings."

Despite the dark spirit of Nebraska material, Springsteen noted a certain resemblance between the two records: "If you look at the material, particularly on the first side, it's actually written very much like Nebraska – the characters and the stories, the style of writing – except it's just in the rock-band setting."

Promotion and blockbuster success

"Dancing in the Dark", the first single, was released on May 4, 1984. The song quickly climbed the charts, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #1 on the Cashbox singles charts for two weeks on June 30. "Dancing in the Dark" also provided Springsteen a Top 10 hit in several countries and the most successful single of his career to that point. The album was released on June 4 and, after a strong debut at #9 on Billboard 200, it quickly reached the top spot on July 7, spending four weeks at the top. Then, on August 4, it slipped down to #2, surpassed by Prince's breakthrough album Purple Rain, which spent an impressive 24 consecutive weeks at #1. During that 24-week period, Born in the U.S.A. was stuck at #2 or (only in the case of three of those weeks) #3. (This caused a rare phenomenon – Purple Rain and Born in the U.S.A. remained at #1 and #2 respectively during 18 consecutive weeks, marking the longest period with a static Top 2 in the history of the Billboard 200.) (Born in the U.S.A. replaced Purple Rain on the top on January 19, 1985, remaining at #1 for three further weeks.) With Dancing in the Dark, the flip side of the single was "Pink Cadillac". Pink Cadillac became very popular on its own but was not included in the album. It became so popular that the single was included in album releases.

In late July 1984, the next single, "Cover Me", was released, and peaked at #7 by October. Then, the title track was released immediately and was another Top 10 hit, reaching #9 in January 1985. Shortly, the follow-up, "I'm on Fire", released in February, was also a big hit, peaking at #6 in May. The next month, "Glory Days" found a single release, reaching #5 in August supported also with a music video. The sixth and seventh singles, "I'm Goin' Down" and "My Hometown", released in September and November 1985 almost equaled the success of their predecessors and, even with no music videos and despite the lower airplay, they managed to reach #9 and #6 respectively.Though it was not one of the seven Top Ten hits of the album, "No Surrender" nevertheless charted on the Mainstream Rock Charts, peaking at # 40.

With this, Columbia released a total of seven singles for the album in the United States, a particularly notable feat for a rock album, especially if coming from Springsteen, who was considered at the time essentially as an "albums artist". Before Born in the U.S.A., and despite a career of over a decade, only the 1980 single from The River, " Hungry Heart" was a Top 5 for Springsteen. The album's strength in terms of hit singles is particularly significant if considering that, of all twelve Top 10 hits that Springsteen achieved to date in the U.S., seven were extracted from this album. (The radical change that the album represented surrounded some controversy at the time, with Cliff Bernstein, as manager of Def Leppard and Dokken, considered that "a sixth single ["I'm Goin' Down"] is a little bit of overkill.") Thanks to these singles, Springsteen was an almost constant presence on the Billboard Hot 100 between May 1984 and March 1986. All seven received extensive promotion, enjoyed respectable sales and gained considerable airplay, and four of them were supported with music videos. During the 1985 Christmas season Springsteen equaled the record set by Michael Jackson's Thriller the year before, having had seven Top 10 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from a single album (only one other album would subsequently duplicate the feat, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, in early 1991). Also, as on Billboard, all seven Born in the U.S.A. singles reached the Top 10 on the Cashbox singles chart. They reached #1 ("Dancing in the Dark"), #7 ("My Hometown"), #8 ("I'm on Fire"), #9 ("Born in the U.S.A.", "Glory Days" and "I'm Goin' Down") and #10 ("Cover Me").

The album spent 84 weeks on the Top 10, becoming both the album with the most consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 10 and the third-most album with the most weeks on the Top 10 overall (equaling Peter, Paul and Mary's 1962 eponymous album), only behind Jackie Gleason's Music for Lovers Only (153 weeks) and the Glenn Miller album by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra (130 weeks). Born in the U.S.A. spent 139 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. Despite being released in June 1984 it went on be the best-selling album of 1985 in the United States.

In the U.S., on July 8, 1984, just one month after its release, the album received a Platinum certification by the RIAA. Further certifications were awarded throughout the following year, and on November 1, 1985 (when the final single wasn't even released and the album was still on the Top 10) it was certified Diamond (recognizing ten million copies sold in the U.S.). It eventually reached a 15× Platinum certification on April 19, 1995.

Springsteen's reaction to the success of Born in the U.S.A.

Springsteen expressed his thoughts on his riches during the 1984 Rolling Stone interview: "Yeah, there's a change [in me]. [Being a rich man] doesn't make living easier, but it does make certain aspects of your life easier. You don't have to worry about rent, you can buy things for your folks and help out your friends, and you can have a good time, you know? There were moments where it was very confusing. (...) I don't really think [money] does change you. It's an inanimate thing, a tool, a convenience. If you've got to have a problem, it's a good problem to have. (...) Money was kind of part of the dream when I started. I don't think...I never felt like I ever played a note for the money. I think if I did, people would know, and they'd throw you out of the joint. And you'd deserve to go. But at the same time, it was a part of the dream."

Music videos

Born in the U.S.A. was also notable for its production of music videos. In the wake of the success of Michael Jackson's Thriller, supported with creative, polished and high-budget music videos, Springsteen in 1984 first recorded promotional videos for four singles from Born in the U.S.A.. These videos were decisive for introducing Springsteen's music to a new, younger, and wider audience, as they received heavy rotation and support by the recently-launched MTV.

The video for "Dancing in the Dark" was directed by Brian De Palma. Set at a live performance, it's perhaps best remembered for the appearance of Courteney Cox as a fan who is invited on stage by Springsteen, and dances with him. (The video played a large role in launching Cox's career, which reached its heights when she became one of the stars of NBC's sitcom Friends.) The video was filmed in June 1984 at the St. Paul Civic Centre in Saint Paul, Minnesota, before and during the initial show of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour and first aired on July 10, 1984 on MTV. The next video for the album was the one made for the title track. It was directed by noted filmmaker John Sayles and also consisted of video concert footage of Springsteen and the E Street Band performing the song, poorly synchronized with audio from the studio recording. Released in mid-December 1984, there supposedly had not been enough time to mix the audio from the concert. This footage was intermixed with compelling mid-1980s scenes of working-class America, emphasizing images that had some connection with the song, including Vietnam veterans, Amerasian children, assembly lines, oil refineries, cemeteries, and the like, finishing with a grizzled Springsteen posing in front of an American flag.

The other two videos for the album were more ambitious productions, as portrayed storylines that alluded to the emotions of the songs. The video for "I'm on Fire", shot in March 1985 in Los Angeles, and also directed by Sayles, featured Springsteen as a working class automobile mechanic playing against an attractive, married, very well-to-do, mostly unseen female customer who brings her vintage Ford Thunderbird in for frequent servicing, always requesting that he does the work. She gives him all her keys, not just the ones for the car. Later that night, he drives the T-Bird up to her mansion high in the hills above the city. He is about to ring the bell, when he thinks better of it, smiles wistfully, drops her keys in the mailbox next to the door and walks away down towards the lights below. It was the first video showing Springsteen's dramatic side, it began airing in mid-April 1985 and, later in the year won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.

The final video for the album was the one shot for "Glory Days". It was shot in late May 1985 in various locations in New Jersey, and also directed by Sayles. It featured a narrative story of Springsteen, playing the protagonist in the song, talking to his young son and pitching to a wooden backstop against an imaginary lineup (he eventually lost the game to Graig Nettles). Intercut with these were scenes of Springsteen and the E Street Band lip-synching the song in a bar. Although he had left the band more than two years earlier, Steven Van Zandt was invited back to perform in this video, along with his sometimes hysterical stage antics but the two new members of the band, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa, who had not been on the record at all, were also featured. Springsteen's then-wife Julianne Phillips made a cameo appearance at the baseball field at the end. The video began airing on MTV in mid-June 1985.


In an effort (a first for Springsteen) to gain dance and club play for his music, and more non-whites in his audience, remixes for the first singles from the album were executed by maestro Arthur Baker. He first created the 12-inch "Blaster Mix" of "Dancing in the Dark", wherein he completely reworked the album version. Overdubbed were tom-toms, dulcimers, glockenspiel, assorted backing vocals, bass-and-horn synthesizer parts, and gunshot sounds. Springsteen's vocal part was chopped up, double-tracked, echoed and repeated, with certain lines such as "You sit around getting older" and "Heeey, baby!" made even more prominent. The remix was released on July 2, 1984 and generated a lot of media buzz for Springsteen, as well as actual club play. It went to #7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and had the most sales of any 12-inch single in the United States in 1984. However, many of Springsteen's hard-core rock fans, who had been suspicious of the new sound of "Dancing in the Dark" to begin with, despised the remix. Baker was subsequently quoted in angry response: "I got really offended. What is so different? It has a glockenspiel, which Bruce has used before, background vocals ... it's no different. See, if any of those mixes had come out before, with no one knowing the other version, no one would have said a word."

Baker created the 12-inch "Undercover Mix" of "Cover Me" next, making a large-scale transformation: a new bass line was cut, an unused backing vocal by industry legend Jocelyn Brown was restored, and reggae and dub elements were introduced. Released on October 15, 1984, it also found displeasing from many fans, but managed to reach #11 on the Dance charts. Finally, on January 10, 1985, it was released the 12-inch "Freedom Mix" of "Born in the U.S.A.". It was a fairly radical remixing, even more so than those Baker had done for the album's previous singles. The mix removed any (possibly misleading) anthemic elements and pushed the song's mournfulness to the front. Synthesizer, glockenspiel, and drums were chopped up and isolated against Springsteen vocal fragments saying "Oh my God, no," and "U.S.A.—U.S.—U.S.—U.S.A." This remix was the least commercially successful of Baker's efforts, however, as unlike the prior two it failed to appear on Billboard's Dance chart.

Image and social issues

As of 1984, Springsteen had been a well-known star for almost a decade. However, as Larry Rodgers interpreted it, "it was not until he hit the gym to get buffed up and showed off his rear end in Annie Leibovitz's famous cover photo for Born in the U.S.A. that he became an American pop icon", touching off a wave of Bossmania (as author Chris Smith described it ).

For the album, Springsteen reintroduced himself as a muscular and sexually-charged rocker after his adoption of constant wearing of tight blue jeans, white t-shirts and bandannas, and also intensive physical training that included years of running, weightlifting, and bodybuilding. According to Bryan K. Garman, in his book A Race of Singers – Whitman's Working-Class Hero From Guthrie to Springsteen, this new image helped Springsteen to popularize his persona on a new scale, but also brought him a decisive attachment to political and sociocultural issues, in the times when Ronald Reagan was reviving a patriotic pride by reaffirming the values of prosperity, expansion, and world domination of the United States "within a decidedly masculine framework." As Reagan's combination of masculinity and nationalism shaped a popular culture that "remasculinized" the country's image, Americans found themselves reading and watching about the Vietnam War, trying to come to terms with the lost war and the soldiers who fought it. At the time, the huge popularity of Sylvester Stallone's " Rambo" films demonstrated both the public's fascination with the Vietnam veteran and the symbiotic relationship that existed between the Reagan presidency and much of the popular culture of its era. According to the author, Springsteen found himself enmeshed in the ideologies and symbols that Rambo and Reagan represented. In August 1985, the Chicago Tribune, coining a slogan that would soon appear on novelty T-shirts and bumper stickers throughout the country, declared him the Rambo of rock and roll, and a national hero who, like Stallone's character, "only wants America to love him as much as he loves it." According to this editorial, Springsteen reprised "the defiant, good ol' boy, blue-collar skepticism of Merle Haggard."

"I think what's happening now is people want to forget. There was Vietnam, there was Watergate, there was Iran — we were beaten, we were hustled, and then we were humiliated. And I think people got a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what's happening, I think, is that need — which is a good thing — is getting' manipulated and exploited. And you see the Reagan reelection ads on TV — you know: "It's morning in America." And you say, well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh. It's not morning about 125th Street in New York. It's midnight, and, like, there's a bad moon risin'. And that's why when Reagan mentioned my name in New Jersey, I felt it was another manipulation, and I had to disassociate myself from the president's kind words."

Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stone Interview, December 1984

At the time, it was a common thought that both Rambo and Springsteen shared the same politics. As Garman puts it, "Stallone and Springsteen addressed questions of national identity, confronted the legacy of Vietnam, and, in some ways, physically resembled each other: they both had dark shoulder-length hair, wore bandannas as part of their costumes, and flaunted their muscular physiques. To be sure, the heroic and sexualized image that Springsteen cultivated was an important component of his popularity and in large part accounted for his appropriation by the Right." He also mentions that Springsteen began also to be characterized by a kind of stage performance that "(on one level) liberates his fans by presenting the possibility of sexual freedom. On another, it reaffirms the power of masculinity." Garman concluded his analysis with the sentence: "Like Reagan and Rambo, the apparently working-class Springsteen was for many American a white hard-bodied hero whose masculinity confirmed the values of patriarchy and patriotism, the work ethic and rugged individualism, and who clearly demarcated the boundaries between men and women, black and white, heterosexual and homosexual."

Much of this hype was produced by the social reactions to the title track, which certainly secured Springsteen's new image as a musical hero, while turning his fame into something complex and troubling. The song was mainly the tale of an American whose birthrights have been paid off with indelible memories of violence and ruin. These thematics, added to Max Weinberg's hard drum beat and Springsteen's furious, passioned vocal performance, caused to many to hear the proclamation "I was born in the U.S.A." as a fierce, nationalistic assertion. Certainly, the song was misinterpreted by many as a patriotic anthem. American conservative columnist George Will, after attending a show, wrote in September 1984 that Springsteen was an exemplar of classic American values. He wrote: "I have not got a clue about Springsteen's politics, if any, but flags get waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He is no whiner, and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: 'Born in the U.S.A.!'"

The 1984 presidential campaign was in full stride at the time, and Will had connections to President Reagan's re-election organization. Will thought that Springsteen might endorse Reagan, and got the notion pushed up to high-level Reagan advisor Michael Deaver's office. Those staffers made inquiries to Springsteen's management which were politely rebuffed. Nevertheless, on September 19, 1984, at a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan added the following to his usual stump speech:

"America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about."

The campaign press immediately expressed skepticism that Reagan knew anything about Springsteen, and asked what his favorite Springsteen song was; " Born to Run" was the tardy response from staffers. Johnny Carson then joked on The Tonight Show, "If you believe that, I've got a couple of tickets to the Mondale/ Ferraro inaugural ball I'd like to sell you."

Years later Rolling Stone analyzed the situation stating that "clearly, to anybody paying attention, the hard-bitten vision of America that Springsteen sang of in 'Born in the U.S.A.' was a far cry from the much-touted 'new patriotism' of Reagan and many of his fellow conservatives. And yet there was also something damnably brilliant in the way the president sought to attach his purpose to Springsteen's views. It was the art of political syllogism, taken to its most arrogant extreme. Reagan saw himself as a definitional emblem of America; Bruce Springsteen was a singer who, apparently, extolled America in his work; therefore, Springsteen must be exalting Reagan — which would imply that if one valued the music of Springsteen, then one should value (and support) Reagan as well. Reagan was manipulating Springsteen's fame as an affirmation of his own ends."

During a September 21 concert in Pittsburgh, Springsteen responded negatively by introducing his song " Johnny 99", a song about an unemployed auto worker who turns to murder, "The President was mentioning my name the other day, and I kinda got to wondering what his favorite album must've been. I don't think it was the Nebraska album. I don't think he's been listening to this one." A few days after that, presidential challenger Walter Mondale said, "Bruce Springsteen may have been born to run but he wasn't born yesterday," and then claimed to have been endorsed by Springsteen. Springsteen manager Jon Landau denied any such endorsement, and the Mondale campaign issued a correction.

Other songs of the album also found political issues. In 2004, Senator John Kerry ( D– Massachusetts) used "No Surrender" as his campaign theme song during his 2004 presidential campaign. Springsteen performed the song at several Kerry rallies during the campaign.

Critical reception

Born in the U.S.A. was received by music critics with almost universal acclaim and praise. Robert Christgau gave the album an A+, describing it as Springsteen's "most rhythmically propulsive, vocally incisive, lyrically balanced, and commercially undeniable album", feeling that, "while Nebraska's one-note vision may be more left-correct, my instincts (not to mention my leftism) tell me that this uptempo worldview is truer." Debby Miller in Rolling Stone also praised the album, highlighting the prevalence of uptempo songs, and calling it an album of "rowdy, indomitable spirit".


Born in the U.S.A. was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics poll. In 2003, the album was ranked number 85 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1989, it was rated #6 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. Chris Smith also included the album in his book 101 Albums that Changed Popular Music, stating that it was, lyrically, "as desperate as Nebraska, but the energy of the E Street Band brought the songs such power that many mistook the album–and the title track in particular– as a celebration of patriotism devoid of any critical commentary." Slant Magazine listed the album at #35 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "Born in the U.S.A. propelled Springsteen not only into a pop-radio staple in the '80s, but cast him as the voice of the disillusioned American everyman."

William Ruhlmann in a retrospective review in Allmusic considers that it was the apotheosis of the E Street Band and a culmination of a road traced since their very beginning – "the place where they renewed their commitment and where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him."

Springsteen has expressed some mixed feelings about the album, believing that Nebraska contains some of his strongest writing, while Born in the U.S.A. did not necessarily follow suit. The title track, "more or less stood by itself", he declared. "The rest of the album contains a group of songs about which I've always had some ambivalence." Even so, and despite calling it the "grab-bag nature" of the album, he acknowledged its powerful effect on his career, claiming: "Born in the U.S.A. changed my life and gave me my largest audience. It forced me to question the way I presented my music and made me think harder about what I was doing."

Cover and enduring popularity

The title track inspired the celebrated Annie Leibovitz photo of Springsteen's backside against the backdrop of an American flag. The album cover became a cult image in Western popular culture. Springsteen commented on the origin of the concept: "We had the flag on the cover because the first song was called "Born in the U.S.A.", and the theme of the record kind of follows from the themes I've been writing about for at least the last six or seven years. But the flag is a powerful image, and when you set that stuff loose, you don't know what's gonna be done with it." Some people thought that the cover depicted Springsteen 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."

Throughout time, the album did not lose its cultural and social relevance and was re-introduced to successive generations. As an example, even two decades after its original release, Rolling Stone published a celebrated cover showing Simpsons character Homer Simpson in a re-make of the cover of the album. Also the photo used on the single "Born in the U.S.A" was featured on the cover of the Rolling Stone issue from November 1990, the one that covered the 1980s calling Springsteen "Voice of the Decade".

In the late 1980s, the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare gave away guitars as prizes. When one of the stage hands was shown with the guitar, he would be wearing jeans with a red hat in his back pocket, mimicking the classic album cover image.

Springsteen himself noted in his 1998 book Songs: "For years after the release of the album, at Halloween, I had little kids in red bandannas knocking on at my door... singing, I was born in the U.S.A. They were not particularly well-versed in the Had a brother at Khe Sahn lyric."

The opening number of the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards featured host Jimmy Fallon singing " Born to Run" and wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans with a red hat in the back pocket, imitating Springsteen's pose in front of an American flag.

Many of the album songs also became concert staples for Springsteen' live shows. All of them were first performed during the "Born in the U.S.A. Tour". The album was performed in its entirety for the first time on October 3 and again on October 9, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with the second performance marking the final concert at that stadium before it was torn down.


The album received many awards, including four American Music Awards. At the Grammy Awards, it received a total of four nominations (including Album of the Year, losing against Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down).

Year Award Category
1984 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Single (for "Dancing in the Dark") (won)
1984 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist (nominated)
1984 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist Video (nominated)
1985 Grammy Awards Best Rock Vocal Performance – Male (for "Dancing in the Dark") (won)
1985 Grammy Awards Record of the Year (for "Dancing in the Dark") (nominated)
1985 Grammy Awards Album of the Year (nominated)
1985 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Album (won)
1985 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist (won)
1985 American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist Video (won)
1985 MTV Music Video Awards Best Stage Performance Video (for "Dancing in the Dark") (won)
1985 MTV Music Video Awards Best Overall Performance (for "Dancing in the Dark") (nominated)
1985 MTV Music Video Awards Best Male Video (for "Glory Days") (nominated)
1985 Juno Awards International Album of the Year (won)
1986 Grammy Awards Record of the Year (for "Born in the U.S.A.") (nominated)
1986 Brit Awards Best International Solo Artist (won)
1986 MTV Music Video Awards Best Overall Performance (for "Glory Days") (nominated)

Track listing

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.

Side one
  1. " Born in the U.S.A." – 4:39
  2. " Cover Me" – 3:27
  3. " Darlington County" – 4:48
  4. " Working on the Highway" – 3:11
  5. " Downbound Train" – 3:35
  6. " I'm on Fire" – 2:37
Side two
  1. " No Surrender" – 4:00
  2. " Bobby Jean" – 3:46
  3. " I'm Goin' Down" – 3:29
  4. " Glory Days" – 4:15
  5. " Dancing in the Dark" – 4:00
  6. " My Hometown" – 4:34


The E Street Band
  • Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar
  • Roy Bittan – piano, synthesizer
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone, percussion
  • Danny Federici – organ, glockenspiel, piano on "Born in the U.S.A."
  • Garry Tallent – bass
  • Steven Van Zandt – acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals
  • Max Weinberg – drums
Additional musicians
  • Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg – background vocals on "Cover Me" and "No Surrender"
  • Ruth Davis, married to Bruce Jackson, the sound engineer – background vocals on "My Hometown"
  • Bob Clearmountain – mixing
  • John Davenport – assistant engineer
  • Jeff Hendrickson – assistant engineer
  • Andrea Klein – art direction, design, cover design
  • Bruce Lampcov – assistant engineer
  • Annie Leibovitz – photography
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering
  • Bill Scheniman – engineer
  • Toby Scott – engineer
  • Billy Straus – assistant engineer
  • Zoe Yanakis – assistant engineer


Peak positions
Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report 1
Austrian Albums Chart 1
Canadian RPM Albums Chart 1
Dutch Albums Chart 1
French SNEP Albums Chart 2
Italian Albums Chart 2
Japanese Oricon LP Chart 6
New Zealand Albums Chart 1
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart 1
Swedish Albums Chart 1
Swiss Albums Chart 1
UK Albums Chart 1
U.S. Billboard 200 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart 1
Decade-end charts
Chart (1980–89) Position
Australian Albums Chart 4
All-time charts
Chart Position
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart 8
Year-end charts
Chart (1984) Position
Australian Albums Chart 7
Canadian Albums Chart 1
Japanese Albums Chart 53
UK Albums Chart 37
U.S. Billboard Year-End 28
Chart (1985) Position
Australian Albums Chart 2
Austrian Albums Chart 4
Canadian Albums Chart 7
French Albums Chart 19
Italian Albums Chart 3
Swiss Albums Chart 3
UK Albums Chart 4
U.S. Billboard Year-End 1
Chart (1986) Position
Canadian Albums Chart 67
U.S. Billboard Year-End 16
Billboard 200 number-one
Preceded by
Sports by Huey Lewis and the News
Billboard 200 number-one album
July 7, 1984 - August 3, 1984
Succeeded by
Purple Rain by Prince and The Revolution
Preceded by
Purple Rain by Prince and The Revolution
Billboard 200 number-one album
January 19, 1985 - February 8, 1985
Succeeded by
Like A Virgin by Madonna


Year Title Chart positions
Hot 100
1984 " Dancing in the Dark" 5 1 3 2 1 2 4 2
" Cover Me" 17 12 6 7 16 7 3
" Born in the U.S.A." A 2 9 11 1 10 1 5 9 8
1985 " I'm on Fire" A 12 1 12 1 10 6 4
" Glory Days" 29 15 17 3 17 34 17 3 5
" I'm Goin' Down" 41 23 9 9
" My Hometown" B 47 27 16 6 23 28 9 6 6

A Released as a double A-side single in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
B Released as a double A-side single along with " Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Non-single tracks

Year Single Chart Position
1984 "No Surrender" Mainstream Rock Tracks 40


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia ( ARIA) 13× Platinum 910,000^
Canada ( Music Canada) Diamond 1,000,000^
Finland ( Musiikkituottajat) 2× Platinum 108,913
France ( SNEP) Platinum 453,000
Germany ( BVMI) 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 212,700
New Zealand ( RIANZ) 16× Platinum 240,000^
United Kingdom ( BPI) 3× Platinum 1,120,000
United States ( RIAA) 15× Platinum 15,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

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