July 25, 2021

Bruce Springsteen: the story behind the iconic cover of ‘Born in the USA’ | LOS40 Classic

In the long discography of Bruce Springsteen there is an album that is marked in his career as the springboard that made him the great American hero that he is today. His seventh album, Born in the USAIt was a commercial success and continues to shine more than 35 years later as the work that established him as an exemplary American, creator of an enormous national treasure.

There were a dozen songs recorded live with the E Street Band that were released on CD for the first time in the United States. “The most successful album of my career. It changed my life, it brought me my largest audience, It forced me to think very seriously about the way I presented my music and it briefly placed me at the center of the pop universe“, recalled the musician in his 2016 memoirs. He also adds:” We had one success after another and in 1985, together with Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson and disco stars, I became a genuine commercial radio superstar. “

Bruce was the embodiment of the American dream, from his title songs to the patriotic cover. However, While Springsteen loves his country, his pride as an American means he can’t sit idly by. and don’t show your disgust at what the United States government was doing on your behalf. And that double meaning of the album cover was not caught by the general public. They did not notice his criticism of the Reagan regime and instead interpreted the song as a love letter.

Born in the USA was the source of inspiration for the album cover, and both have been misunderstood over the years. Springsteen wrote the song from a place of heartbreak, a time when he was greatly disappointed and aggrieved by the problems Vietnam veterans encountered when they returned home after valiantly serving their country.

The album cover used this sentiment to create a historical photo. Taken by the photographer of Rolling Stone Annie Leibovitz, the image shows the Boss dressed in red, white and blue, against a backdrop of stars and stripes. It would be difficult to find an image that screamed at America louder than this cover. The red cap hanging from the back pocket of his jeans shows that Springsteen is like a pretty boy from his neighborhood, Astbury Park, in New Jersey.

There is a history related to the use of this cap. It belonged to the father of a friend of Bruce’s, Lance Larson. When it died, Springsteen featured her on the album cover in tribute after telling his friend that his father would live through the album.

Surprisingly, many performed the cover in the opposite way to the title track. Fans misinterpreted the song as a love letter to the regime, and people who got the song’s true meaning assumed Springsteen was relieving himself on the cover flag, but it wasn’t that deep.

Bruce Springsteen poses before a concert on the 1984 Born in the USA tour. / Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Some interpretations of the cover suggest that Springsteen used the flag to mock his country, but he denied it in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1984. “We took many different types of photographs and in the end the image of my butt looked better than the image of my face, so that’s what appeared on the cover. He had no secret message. “

The picture is not a celebration of America, nor Springsteen pissing in his country, it is just an honest look at how things were in his country in 1984. Few album covers have personified an album in the same way that Born in the USA captured the American way of life.