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Born in the U.S.A. (33⅓ #27)

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  147 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
When Bruce Springsteen went back on the road in 1984, he opened every show by shouting out, "one, two, one, two, three, four," followed by the droning synth chords of "Born in the U.S.A." Max Weinberg hit his drums with a two-fisted physicality that cut through the swelling chords. With a rolled-up red kerchief around his head and heavy black boots under his faded jeans, S ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 19th 2005 by Continuum
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Community Reviews

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Mary
Jul 23, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
Sure, I like the Boss; I'm from Jersey. But I hadn't looked much past my sister's favorite, "Born to Run". And "Born in the USA" is hard to hear anew. It's one of those songs neutered by repetitious playings at feel-good public events such as demolition derbies and firework displays.

I had to start all over again with the album, and the book really helped. The author dips into Springsteen's life and the events of the day to explain the importance of the album both to history and to Springsteen h
...more
Bud Smith
Pretty good album by Bruce Springsteen, I like side B best. Kind of a shitty book. An actual journalist took some time out of their journalistic life to explore themes and other bullshit in The Boss' work. Kind of crazy reading about how the guy who wrote this thought Bruce Springsteen is/was an actual comedian and should write more joke songs. Guess joke songs would have been Bruce Springsteen's bread and butter. He shouldn't have pursued serious crap like Thunder Road or The River. He should h ...more
Ben
Mar 22, 2011 Ben rated it liked it
Ever wondered what the connection is between Bruce's Born in the U.S.A. and Nebraska albums? How about his storytelling and that of Flannery O'Connor's (i.e. "The River" and "A Good Man's Hard to Find")? And what's the deal with writing songs for Gary US Bonds and Donna Summer? What did Bruce really think about disco? And how does one reconcile rock 'n roll's escapism and outlawism with post-70s Reaganomics and stagflation?

Like, for example, if I'm "Born to Run" and I got a fly new "Pink Cadill
...more
Mike
Sep 17, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
See Mary's review—that covers it all. Definitely one of the better reads in the 33 1/3 series.
Oh, I'll also add this. It's still unbelievable that Reagan and other conservatives tried to appropriate a song with the following 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

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and k
...more
Paul Gleason
May 11, 2013 Paul Gleason rated it liked it
The 33 1/3 books come in many forms - and Himes' book is one of the entries that focuses primarily on an album's lyrics.

I've always dismissed Springsteen's 1984 release for its 80s' production. Because of this focus, I never thought deeply about Bruce's lyrics. But after reading Himes' book, which doesn't concentrate on the downsides (and there are plenty) of 80s-syle production, I have a new appreciation for the lyrical breadth of Springsteen's words on USA.

Himes argues that Springsteen's lyric
...more
Mark
Jun 27, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
For the uninitiated, the 33 1/3 series is an ever-growing collection of tiny books (they're slightly smaller than a Blu-Ray disc case), each one dedicated to the creation of a particular album from the past six decades of music.

Geoffrey Himes' contribution to the collection is about Springsteen's most well-known record, his mid-1980s classic Born In The USA. He argues that, with its equal combination of humour and angst, it is the perfect Springsteen album.. and his supporting evidence is very p
...more
Patty
Jan 20, 2009 Patty rated it it was amazing
I wasn't convinced I'd like this book; I am a Springsteen snob who considered "Born in the U.S.A." to be when Bruce started to lose his blue-collar roots and turn into a Rock Star. But this book changed my mind.

Himes talks about the evolution of Springsteen's songwriting, from the wordy poem-songs of his early albums to the more pared-down, Dylanesque lyrics of his '80s output, and he also spends a lot of time discussing his comic as well as dramatic lyrical skill. When I dismissed this album as
...more
Charlie Cottrell
Feb 23, 2014 Charlie Cottrell rated it really liked it
This book works best when the author focuses on the changing influences in Springsteen's writing; the survey of his evolving style and themes is endlessly fascinating, if you ask me. It falls rather flat, though, when the author starts going on about the thematic significance of throwaway lines like, "I'm a long gone daddy in the USA." Learning about the simultaneous development of Born in the USA and Nebraska, two starkly different albums, was a unique treat.
J.J. Lair
This was more than just Born in the USA. I liked how this one album was taken in the scope of all of Springsteen's work. We get the story of prior albums and its effect on Springsteen's future work.
The author and I disagree on Springsteen's lighter songs vs. his message songs. The author clearly prefers humor and I agree on many songs, but I won't say that is Springsteen's best songs.
Overall I enjoyed the book. I looked up some songs on the web.
Mark
Apr 14, 2009 Mark rated it it was ok
This edition of the 33-1/3 series did not cut it for me. It's tough enough to make a case for The River and Born in the USA as being Bruce's best work, as the author claims here. But the thesis is not well presented, and I was not convinced. I love Bruce, but I'm not a big fan of Born in the USA. I picked this volume to shed some light on the record, and perhaps change my opinion. For me, this record was a calculated plan to launch Bruce into the mainstream, not the peak of his songwriting matur ...more
Karin
Mar 23, 2016 Karin rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book provided an interesting perspective on one of my favorite Bruce albums - Born in the USA. I'll listen a little differently from now on! It's a quick read, but I wouldn't recommend if you're not already a Bruce fan (why aren't you????). :)
Michael Brown
Dec 25, 2015 Michael Brown rated it liked it
Some interesting comentary here about the comedic side of Springsteen's songwriting and storytelling; also the challenge in forming coherent album statements from a plethora of new songs written ca. 1981-1984.
Kevin Duvall
Feb 10, 2016 Kevin Duvall rated it really liked it
Not earth-shattering, but Himes has a fairly bold thesis and defends it well.
Michael
Apr 13, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
Serviceable enough, I guess, but something was missing here. Perhaps I've reached critical mass on Bruce scholarship; I'm pretty sure I'd heard all of the anecdotes before. But Himes does make a convincing case that Born in the USA, which despite its immense popularity is not generally ranked very high among serious Springsteen fans, is ripe for a re-evaluation. With the 30th anniversary coming up soon, maybe this is the perfect time to revisit it.
Kirk
Dec 09, 2007 Kirk rated it it was ok
Shelves: medium-warm
I'm normally a fan of the 33-1/3 series but this one fell flat. It would have been much more interesting to tackle BORN TO RUN, THE RIVER, or, if going so more left-field possibilities, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN or THE WILD, THE INNOCENT, and THE E STREET SHUFFLE. Instead we get a lot of 80's era handringing about Reaganism and rock authenticity, all of which will sound very, very familiar to anyone who knows the Springsteen story.
Don
Apr 30, 2013 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Even though Geoffrey Himes says Born in the USA is Bruce's best record, he spends a lot of time talking about the songs that weren't on the album, including dozens of outtakes and the Nebraska album. That's a good thing as this was an amazingly prolific songwriting and recording period that could have produced five or six classic albums instead of two.
Nathan
Jul 07, 2009 Nathan rated it it was ok
Shelves: 33-1-3-series
Has this book not been written well, it would have made for a boring read. The best part of the book came in the last chapter, and the annotated discography, otherwise, the book just read like a compilation of the songs Bruce had written, and his influences. This one sort of missed for me.
Matthew
Dec 01, 2015 Matthew rated it it was ok
Pretty substandard. Read it if you're interested in the opinions of some guy.

Ever thought to yourself, "Bruce's records would've been masterpieces if only they were funnier"? Me neither.
Jeff
Jan 17, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
Half encyclopedic fanboy gushing, half scholarly dissertation on why the music mattered (and still matters). Not an achievement as towering as the album that inspired it, but it does the record justice.
Mkb
Dec 30, 2012 Mkb rated it really liked it
What is it about Bruce Springsteen that inspires people to write so eloquently about him? This is a very smart, tightly-written book.
Robert
Aug 16, 2016 Robert rated it liked it
Not too bad. The book does go into the album but I did find that this volume lacked a bit of soul.
Soren Sondergaard
Nov 10, 2012 Soren Sondergaard rated it it was amazing
Definitive!
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