Friday, September 7, 2012

First Drafts - Born in the U.S.A.



The story behind this version of "Born in the U.S.A." is pretty well known by most Bruce Springsteen aficionados.  But, for those who may be hearing this somber, acoustic version of the song for the first time, it goes like this: this track was originally written for the Nebraska album.  However, his producer, Jon Landau, loved the lyrics and heard the potential for a hit.  It was reworked with the full band, and became the oft-misinterpreted yet iconic anthem it is today.

Did they make the right decision?  Economically, the answer is a resounding "yes."  It put Springsteen on the map, and moved millions of records.  But, did taking such hard lyrics and wrapping them in fist-pumping pop chords negate the message of the song?  It can be argued that the true nature of the song is most effectively communicated in the somber Nebraska sound.  

Personally, I feel that Landau and Springsteen made the right decision.  The pop nature of the song, as well as the ensuing controversy regarding the song's message, helped make even more people aware of the plight of Vietnam veterans.  You can only spread your ideas if people are listening to them, and by making the track more mainstream, he created more fans willing to explore his music and its themes.  It was also a time where social causes were being promoted through pop songs, such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Do They Know It's Christmas?", so it wasn't unprecedented, and this kind of music helped influence generations to come.  

Which version do you prefer?  Let us know in the comments.