|I'm not really a Bruce Springsteen fan,
but when I was searching for
music after 9/11, a mix of his "Born in the USA" showed up and
I added it to the collection.
After I received the three emails below, I did a search for reviews on the song. It didn't take long to come up with one backing up what the emails were claiming. It is listed below the emails.
The song will not be included in the WTC Collection and has been removed from this site.
|From: John August
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 12:34 PM
Subject: Born in the USA
It has come to my attention that you're hosting a site that has "remix" of the Bruce Springsteen song Born in the USA using quotes from Bushy Boy and other politicians about 9/11. Just to help you and anyone who frequents the site clarify the meaning of the song, you may want to post the lyrics. It astounds me that this song remains so misunderstood by the country at large"
From: Brian Timko
From: Tomas Bergstrøm
Darkness on the
edge of town
Anyone wishing to test the temperature of American popular culture might consider comedian Bill Maher. Two months ago Maher's TV show, Politically Incorrect, was cancelled. The reason? Maher made a politically incorrect remark about September 11: "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building . . . it's not cowardly." Maher will be replaced by Jimmy Kimmel, a comic of the beer, sport and breasts variety. Americans, it seems, have less stomach for ambiguity than ever.
No rock star knows the dangers of ambiguity more intimately than Bruce Springsteen. He wrote perhaps the most misinterpreted song in pop history, the title track of his 15m-selling 1984 album Born in the USA. A troubled examination of Vietnam's after-effects, it was misconstrued by fans, detractors and even Ronald Reagan as gung-ho chest-beating. Springsteen, a liberal, was apparently horrified. Perhaps this was slightly disingenuous. If you set your troubled examination of Vietnam's after-effects to the sort of declamatory fanfare last heard when an all-conquering Caesar returned to Rome, bellow it in a voice that suggests you are about to leap offstage and punch a communist, then package it in a sleeve featuring the Stars and Stripes and a pair of Levi's, it's no good getting huffy when people seize the wrong end of the stick.
Springsteen certainly seemed chastened by the incident. He spent the 1990s making a series of thoughtful, introspective albums, having dismantled his bombastic backing troupe the E Street Band in 1989. These albums achieved a fraction of Born in the USA's sales, but no one could mistake them for jingoistic grandstanding. These two facts may be connected.
The Rising sees Springsteen reuinted with the E Street Band. The occasion is an album inspired by September 11. Anticipating a return to flag-waving anthemics, one British broadsheet has decried Springsteen as "a born-again patriot". Perhaps for the same reasons, however, the American media has done everything but kill the fatted calf.
While Nashville's songwriters started churning out glutinous tributes before Ground Zero had stopped smoking, rock's response to September 11 has been muted. Now the man they once called The Boss has stepped into the breach. Those in search of rabble rousing are likely to be disappointed by The Rising. Eight of its 15 tracks deal with September 11 in exactly the same way: the lamentations of people whose lovers died in the attacks.
Springsteen's limited metaphorical palette has been noted before - he spent 15 years writing songs in which unemployed Vietnam vets called Gary tried and failed to escape their destiny by driving down the highway - but here the repetitions are highlighted by their proximity. A song in which the streets are cloudy with dust and flowing with blood, and the sky is empty and crying, is followed by a song in which the sky is cloudy with dust and raining blood, and the streets are empty and crying.
When he lays off the imagery, Springsteen is capable of remarkable poignancy: "I've got too many phone calls - 'How's everything?' " he sings on You're Missing. Ultimately, however, when these songs work, it is because of their melodies rather than their words. Into the Fire and Nothing Man are lambent and beautiful, Sunny Day and My City in Ruins uplifting. When Springsteen's melodic powers fail, as on the tuneless Countin' on a Miracle, the results are ghastly.
Springsteen says the album is "very recognisable and very different". The first part of that statement is certainly true. The E Street Band helped define the sound of 1980s stadium rock and here it is back in force. Your tolerance for Clarence Clemmons's honking saxophone solos depends entirely on your fondness for the decade of Reaganomics and mutually assured destruction: either way, they sound anachronistic. "Meet me at Mary's place!" choruses Springsteen on the rollicking Mary's Place, "we're going to have a party!" You suspect that at said party everybody will be dancing to Huey Lewis and the News.
The "very different" claim rests on a handful of drum loops that cause the E Street Band to lumber even more heavily than in the past, and a quick burst of world music. A song called Worlds Apart sets a plea for global tolerance to ethnic samples. As ever, there is no doubting Springsteen's sincerity, but the tablas and Pakistani vocals lay the message on a bit thick.
The Rising is heavy-handed. Its lyrics
are repetitious, its sound wilfully dated, its messages straightforward.
But perhaps heavy-handedness is the point. The last time Springsteen
made headlines, in 2000, the head of New York's Fraternal Order of
Police was calling him a "f**king dirtbag" for writing
American Skin, an oblique song about the police shooting of West African
immigrant Amadou Diallo. There is no room for interpretation here, which
makes it a perfect record for an America where ambiguity's stock has
crashed. They may even start calling him The Boss again.
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