Why ‘Born In The USA’ Is The Only Song You Should Play This 4th Of July

Released in 1984, the song ‘Born In The USA’ appeared on the radio 11 years after America withdrew from the Vietnam War. The economy was in the tank, factories were closing, and the unemployment rate was high. In 1982 it topped out at 10.8%, higher than at any time since the Great Depression, higher than anything in the 21st century. Like today, there were still a lot of veterans struggling to find their footing after taking part in a war that, like today, seemed to have accomplished nothing. With the current Iraq crisis seeming to prove that all had been vanity and a chasing after the wind I can’t help but think that the only differences between the Iraq War and Vietnam boil down to number of casualties and the color of the people we were fighting. But let’s not get too maudlin. Here’s the lyrics which are fantastic.

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says “son if it was up to me”
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said “son don’t you understand now”
Had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there he’s all gone
He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now
Down in the shadow of penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I’m ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I’m a long gone daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I’m a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A.

Times are tough, things haven’t worked out, and there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to go. Still though, it’s the will to persevere that’s the important thing and it’s what ‘Born In The USA’ cares about because it’s the only thing people can do to get by.

Even in 2014, the ‘Born In The USA’ seems to have been replaced by Lee Greenwood’s terrifyingly jingoistic ‘God Bless the USA.’ This is a damned shame. ‘God Bless the USA’ has always been an empty suit. If you need any further evidence of this then look no further than Beyonce’s cover of the song, performed and recorded during a period of peak cynicism after Osama bin Laden was killed. Right, Beyonce, God killed bin Laden. Pointless, hollow, a lie constructed and sold for money.

‘Born In The USA’ howls against that kind of self delusion. It’s patriotic precisely because it’s not trying to be patriotic. It isn’t some sugar coated nationalistic hymn removed from everyday life. It was written as a blue collar song in a country full of blue collar people in a wounded nation of normal people trying to make sense of disappointment and a government full of misdirection.

This 4th of July, play it loud and more than once. TC mark

featured image – YouTube

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