Born in the USA
Bruce Springsteen Lyrics


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Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just to cover it 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?"
(Ok)
(No, no)
(No, no, no)

I had a brother at Khe Sanh
Fighting off all 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 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 rocking Daddy in the USA now

(Oh, no)
(Oh, no, no, no)
(Oh, no, no)
(Oh, no, no, no)
Hey




(Oh, no, no)
Woo

Overall Meaning

Born in the USA, considered to be Bruce Springsteen’s signature song, is an anthem that has been widely misinterpreted for decades since its release in 1984. Its melody, upbeat sound, and catchy chorus, have become a staple in American rock music. However, the lyrics tell a story of the struggle of the Vietnam War veterans returning from the war and their struggle to find their place in a society that they no longer recognize.


The opening lyrics introduce the singer, born in a "dead man's town," with the "first kick" being vividly compared to being "beat too much." The song reflects the bitterness and disillusionment of a generation, largely ignored by the government and society, the veterans who served in the armed forces and who were left behind without any help or support.


The second verse speaks about the singer being drafted into the military and sent overseas to fight in the Vietnam War. He returns home to be met with disdain and rejection by civilians and struggling veterans both, emphasizing the pain of grappling with PTSD alone. The closing line "I'm a cool rocking daddy in the USA now" reflects the singer's disowned persona and the irony that his military service led him from a victimized youth to a rebellious misanthrope.


Born in the USA was initially intended as an anti-war ballad, with a slower, more acoustic version presented to Congress in December of 1983. However, after receiving the tune sheet and listening to the song's revised and upbeat version, President Reagan used the track's refrain in political campaigns, considering it a right-wing nationalist anthem while not comprehending its actual message.


Line by Line Meaning

Born down in a dead man's town
I was born in a place with no prospects and opportunities.


The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
I was born into a world of violence and struggle.


End up like a dog that's been beat too much
Growing up in such an environment means that you carry emotional scars for life.


'Til you spend half your life just to cover it up now
It's hard to succeed after being beaten down, so you try your hardest to hide your past.


Got in a little hometown jam
Got into some trouble in my small town.


So they put a rifle in my hands
The only option presented to me was to join the military and go to war.


Sent me off to a foreign land
I was sent overseas to fight in an unpopular war.


To go and kill the yellow man
I was sent to fight an enemy I had no personal reason to hate.


Come back home to the refinery
After returning from war, my only option for work was in the factory.


Hiring man said, "Son if it was up to me"
The factory boss would not have offered me a job if it wasn't the last resort.


Went down to see my VA man
I tried to get help from the Veteran's Association.


He said, "Son, don't you understand now?"
The VA tried to make me understand that I was simply a pawn used in the war.


I had a brother at Khe Sanh
I lost a family member in the Vietnam War.


Fighting off all the Viet Cong
He fought an enemy in Vietnam that he didn't understand or care about.


They're still there, he's all gone
The war is still going on and he died for nothing.


Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Life is so bleak that it's easy to end up in jail.


Out by the gas fires of the refinery
Work is hard, stressful, and dangerous.


I'm ten years burning down the road
I've been dealing with this pain for ten years.


Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go
There's no way out of this cycle of pain and struggle.


I'm a long gone Daddy in the USA now
I'm an absentee father who can't provide for his family.


I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the USA now
I put on a façade of coolness to hide my pain and struggle.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Written by: Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@dimadrochip2400

[Verse 1]
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

[Chorus]
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. now
[Verse 2]
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

[Chorus]
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.

[Verse 3]
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”

[Verse 4]
I had a brother at Khe Sanh
Fighting off them 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

[Verse 5]
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
[Chorus]
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A. now
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A. now
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. now



@jasonjones8768

I know what you mean,
when i was in elementary school -
i had a friend who's father was in Vietnam..

& without being to graghic,
he would tell us war stories that were terrible..

Like one minute him & a buddy would be walking side by side,
then all of a sudden - a sniper had open fired & dropped his buddy with a clean shot..

Jesus, he must have repeated the word senseless after every event he talked about - i must agree with him, (WAR) it's all senseless..



All comments from YouTube:

@ellenabramsblankenship4455

This is a protest about how poorly the Vietnam vets were treated upon their return to the States. And my brother's name is one of the 58,000 on the black granite wall in D.C.

@timothygibson2536

Shout at to your brother. He is with my uncle, and 2 cousins. That war still hurts.

@jimcab4279

Anyone who sacrifice's their own life for their country is a true hero, you should be very proud of your brother.

@hizwannassa8809

My uncle and 2 of my relatives died in that war my uncle served the korean war as well

@KodaLeck

You're brother died a honorable man and I respect that,yet its sad losing a loved one

@Cissy2cute

So many 😢

562 More Replies...

@gtob431

I was always blown away to see this song played at ball games, political events seemingly depicting a proud America... Born in the USA. The true meaning of the song is protest and the suffering the veterans went through and what they dealt with in the war along with the pain they experienced when they returned home. The song has always been glorified as proud America when in fact it is a very sad and painful story of suffering and a lack of appreciation of all the lives lost and suffering that came out of this war.

@natalierampone9750

That's the way I look at it.

@frenchyoathbreaker4095

You can call the song "ironic", I guess. Even though it calls living in the US to be shitty. lol But the way it is sang and portrayed with the American flag and the way Scorcese filmed it with Bruce in leather and looking badass I think works against its message. Because frankly most people enjoy the rhythm of songs and don't listen to the lyrics. With this message, it probably needed to be approached like a Bob Dylan song. More quiet.

@Goomba956

My eldest brother, RIP, had lifelong issues with the lives he was forced to take...being called a baby killer upon his return did not help matters any. I agree with your commentary.

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