After additional pressure on President Barack Obama, he released the long-form version of his birth certificate this morning in an attempt to calm down all of the insane media attention largely driven of late by The Celebrity Apprentice’s Donald Trump. At the news conference this morning, though, I was a little disappointed that Bruce Springsteen did not show up to play “Born in the U.S.A.” as part of the spectacle.
It would not have been the first time that the song appeared in presidential politics. In 1984, during a presidential campaign stop in New Jersey, Pres. Ronald Reagan appeared to invoke “Born in the U.S.A.,” which was extremely popular at the time: “America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside our hearts.” Reagan explained, “It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.”
Although Springsteen was less active politically in those days than in recent years, he would make a few comments on stage and in interviews in response to the comments by Pres. Reagan, who would go on to win the 1984 election in a landslide over Walter Mondale. But Springsteen’s most pointed response came a decade later in a re-working of “Born in the U.S.A.” around the time of his Ghost of Tom Joad tour. Where the hit version sounded like an anthem, and that helped make it a hit song, his new version was quieter, stressing the sadness in the words. Pres. Reagan had focused on the sound of the original and misinterpreted the hopeless defiance in the music as a message of hope. By changing the music but not the words into a bluesier version, Springsteen captured the despair faced by many Americans that was — and is — often overlooked in popular culture.
Bonus “Born in the USA” Information: “Born in the U.S.A.” originated in an acoustic form when Springsteen was working on his Nebraska album. Although he reworked the song with the E Street band into an anthem for the Born in the U.S.A. album, the acoustic version is available on the four-CD collection Tracks. I suppose that “Born in the U.S.A.” would be too sad to play at a press conference about our President’s birth, so maybe they could have asked Miley Cyrus to perform this song.
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