Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Born in the USA" is not a patriotic anthem

The Rascal was in Minocqua, Wis., on the Fourth of July and witnessed the town's annual parade, which characteristically included some floats and units that seemed to have nothing whatever to do with our nation's birthday.

I mean, in this context, what's the point of a marching contingent of real estate agents from Coldwell Banker? Or earth-moving equipment from a local construction company?

The most incongruous element in the parade -- but not uncommon among Independence Day celebrations all across the land -- was a vehicle adorned with loud speakers blaring Bruce Springsteen's recording of "Born in the USA."

Countless Americans seem to think that Springsteen's song, which was released in 1984 and has been a staple of Fourth of July doings ever since, is overtly patriotic. It's not. It's the sarcastic lament of an embittered Vietnam vet who can't find work when he comes home from the war and ends up in prison.

Here are the lyrics:

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, now

Born in the USA, I was

Born in the USA, I was

Born in the USA

Born in the USA, now

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to a foreign land,
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the USA, I was
Born in the USA, I was
Born in the USA, I was
Born in the USA

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man said "Son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my VA man,
He said "Son don't you understand now"

I had a brother at Khe Sahn, fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a woman who lived in Saigon,
I got a picture of him in her arms,

Down in the shadow of the 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 USA, I was

Born in the USA, now

Born in the USA,

I'm a long-gone daddy in the USA, now

Born in the USA, Born in the USA, Born in the USA,
I'm a cool rockin' daddy in the USA, now


Anonymous said...

Shows how smart people in that town are....Bruce is a leftest kook that hates this country like you.

Henry said...

The plight of the soldier portrayed in the song happened to many returning vets. Anonymous must be of the 'Love It or Leave It' mentality. Believe what I believe (right wing and intolerant), or you are a anti-American, commie, pinko. I didn't see a reference to any town in the song. I don't get the reference. Perhaps Anonymous should read the lyrics before commenting.

The Rascal said...

Henry: I think the reference by anonymous to a "town" related to my mention of Minocqua, Wis. in my post.