Great Rock Albums of 1984: Bruce Springsteen- Born in the USA

For a good many people, the “Born in the USA” album from Bruce Springsteen was the album of the year in 1984. No one can debate how successful this album was. Any album which sell 11 million copies certainly is that. For the Top 40 brigade, it produced seven singles and like U2, Bruce Springsteen was one of those artists who both metalheads and non metalheads could listen to and not feel they were being unfaithful to their chosen genre. Needless to say, 1984 was Bruce’s year and this album was the reason why.

Now, I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade but I am going to make my opinion known as it was the same now as it was then. Like the rest of the world, I agree that this is a fine album. It was certainly four steps up from his previous album, the rather depressing, “Nebraska,” but I don’t rate this album as high as classics like “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and only slightly higher than “The River.” Still, unlike outgoing governor Chris Christie, Bruce Springsteen has always made me feel proud that I grew up in New Jersey.

Reflecting back, I think my main problem with “Born in the USA” was the fact that all of the singles got played to death on the radio at the time. That usually happens in any artist’s home ground so New Jersey radio stations did that. However, some of the singles got tiresome after hearing them played for the 957th time. “Glory Days” and “I’m On Fire” were examples of this and probably “Dancing in the Dark” as well. They were all good songs but got old after hearing them so many times. Saying that, “Cover Me” is the big exception here. I could hear that song 9050 times and wouldn’t get tired of it.

Fortunately, the great thing about the album was the tracks that weren’t singles. They’re all brilliant! There is some good traditional Springsteen rock to be had on all five of these. I’m talking about “Darlington County,” “Working on the Highway,” “Downbound Train,” “No Surrender” and “Bobby Jean.” For me, it is these tracks that have made “Born in the USA” so enjoyable for me.

While most people have raved about the songs on here, I think what often gets overlooked is the lyrics behind many of these songs. Personally, I can identify a tiny bit with the title track. I didn’t serve in Vietnam but Bruce highlights how badly those who served over there were treated. I had been out of the service about a year and by this time, I was beginning to wonder what had been the point of my serving due to the way I was being treated. Only the Vietnam Vets had it far worse than I ever did. The real eye opener was “My Home Town.” It was about his native town, Asbury Park and what was happening while he was growing up. It does make one stand up and think of how divided the nation really was back in the 1960s. Bruce let his feelings be known when he wrote these songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Born in the USA
  2. Cover Me
  3. Darlington County
  4. Working on the Highway
  5. Downbound Train
  6. I’m On Fire
  7. No Surrender
  8. Bobby Jean
  9. I’m Goin’ Down
  10. Glory Days
  11. Dancing in the Dark
  12. My Home Town

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen- lead vocals, guitars

Roy Bittan- piano, synthesizer, backing vocals

Clarence Clemmons- saxophone, percussion backing vocals

Danny Federici- organ, glockenspiel, piano

Gary Tallent- bass, backing vocals

Steven Van Zandt- acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals

Max Weinberg- drums, backing vocals

It is slightly amazing that in a year where heavy metal dominated, a great rock album like “Born in the USA” could do so astronomically well. It was considered by many Bruce Springsteen’s crowning achievement.

Next post: Planet P- Pink World

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27 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1984: Bruce Springsteen- Born in the USA”

  1. I had this waaaay back in the day. Like one of the first tapes I had. Probably got it in 1984 but years and years later, I saw the video for I’m On Fire and remembered how great that song is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you about the lyrics. There’s some great writing throughout.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree it is great, but not his best. It is his most successful which doesn’t mean best. And the songs were definitely played to death. I still have trouble listening to a few of the singles now because of that. And Born in the U.S.A. is so overplayed even today.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Downbound Train is a great track. So mopey yet so catchy!
    Nice writeup!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As I was 3 when this album came out, my personal experience with it is limited, however, my folks were very keen on telling me of an apparent ‘nude’ dance I was fond of performing on top of the coffee table to the titular track. I don’t know whether to believe them, but whenever I hear Born In The USA I get a strange urge to dance…….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Always had a copy on hand since I was a kid. You’re absolutely right about the over-play on the radio, I felt the same way. Give yourself some time between listens, though, and it is definitely full of great and cool stuff (as you noted). Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really don’t like this one despite my best attempts to persevere with it. Personally, the great songs get lost in the tinny polished music and gloss. Which is a shame. The songs hold up a bit better live, but I’ve just never managed to dig the album.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always loved this album – especially the way it is such a downbeat LP.

    Liked by 1 person

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