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?"
(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)
(Oh, no, no)

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Born in the U.S.A. Lyrics as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Born in the U.S.A. song meanings
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  • +17
    My Interpretation

    very clear. an anti-War song, speaking of the heatache and dissiliosionment of a man returning from War after personal loss and as a citizen and as a recruit. Being unemployable for "doing the right thing", far from being patriotic it is an indietment of American foreign policy, which cost so much, home and abroad, at the time and even today...

    Very poinant and resonates with those around the globe who have faced horrors on a foreign shore only to face those horrors once again on friendly shores....

    davidm691on August 17, 2012   Link
  • +14
    General Comment

    I don't understand why people say it's half patriotic, half not. It is in no way patriotic. Just because he is "Born in the USA" doesn't mean he wants to be. He means he was born into a country that's kinda messed up. But he has nowhere else to go so he stays, and tries to make the best of it.

    pianton June 28, 2012   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    The song is simply a protest against the Vietnam war, and the grotesque treatment the returtning soldiers received. Many people think it's patriotic because of the chorus, but it's not.

    Esenthielon April 05, 2003   Link
  • +9
    My Opinion

    When i first heard this song i was about 16. The english language is not my mother language. I learnd this language at this time. But even without understanding the complete songtext it was clear for me that this song was aganst war !

    A view years later I heard that 50% of the native american people dosent understand the meaning of this song. I was shocked that Mr. Reagan , the american president at this time, dosent unterstand the meaning either. A man, that handles with atomic bombs, dosent understand a simple folk song text.

    The song is up-to-date now a days. With all the wars in the world, this song could be made today. But he is almost 30 years old. This makes me very sad.

    Sylvester8on October 31, 2012   Link
  • +7
    General Comment

    "Born down in a dead man's town... " -- A little contrary to picture perfect Americana portrayed in 'Father Knows Best' and 'Leave it to Beaver' aint it?

    "Got in a little hometown jam... " -- Jail or fight. I respect those that chose to fight, but it still wasn't right.

    "Come back home to the refinery... " -- Think our economy is bad today? Pull your head out your arse. The 70's were a true economic nightmare.

    "Went down to see my V.A. man... " -- America only supports winners pal. Besides, those who spit on you at the airport are in charge now.

    "I had a brother at Khe Sahn... " -- Actual kin or comrade in arms? Ask a Vietnam veteran. They will tell you there is no difference.

    "I got a picture of him in her arms now... " -- There was no such thing as closure for the 'Nam vet in the 70's and early 80's. If this song were written a few years later the picture would have been left at an ebony wall in D.C.

    "I'm ten years burning down the road... " -- The war is over, yet it isn't.

    While watching the news the other day at lunch with a coworker who served as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam, I observed that we were about 40 years too late in learning how to treat our veterans.

    He answered me with silence... eyes lowered.

    Damn those that dared to humble the bravest of a generation. You and your spawn will NEVER have my support or respect.

    rancidcrabon September 25, 2007   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    At first listen, this could be a fist-pumping cry for all the mouth-breathing, non-questioning folks who grew up voting for Ronald Reagan and tell us on a daily basis "America - Love it or Leave it" through their bumpersticker mentality. My brother fought in Vietnam, and even though he came back in one piece, his mixed feelings toward what happened in the 60s and 70s in Vietnam are captured fairly well in the verses. If you have ever heard Bruce perform the acoustic version, especially live, you hear that struggle between patriotism and self-doubt. This song takes on new meaning when held up to current events. Is it OK to not question the actions of our government... or risk being labeled a traitor or worse, if you refuse to have blind-faith in our decisionmakers?

    stealthbeetleon January 11, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I haven't read ALL the comments, but this is a very sophisticated lyric. It tugs you every which way. Certainly there's sympathy for the Vietnam vet, but the narrator's line about going to a "foreign land to go and kill the yellow man" reflects not just the government's policy miscalculation, but its racist underpinning, which the narrator fully adopts and endorses.

    The line about "they're still there, he's all gone", is heartbreaking, and yet bears within it resentment of enemies still living in what is in fact their home country, in which the narrator was an invader.

    From the first verse, the narrator's been fucked his whole life, and by the final verse, of what does he have to boast? The simple geographically accident that he was born here; to the extent that amounts to patriotism, it is patriotism as empty gesture a desperate grab for self-worth, from a man whose experience has provided him no reason to be patriotic at all.

    tpksummerson February 22, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    This wasn't meant to be his experience. It's about what the soldiers came back to experience. They were Americans, they fought for their country like they were made to. Returning to America, the soldiers were spat upon and hated for doing what they were forced to do. Look where they've gotten, is what he's saying. Today, one-third of the homeless are Vietnam vets. Bruce is asking, what are you doing for us; where is the heroes' treatment?

    deevoon July 06, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Much like a lot of people, when I first heard this song I was also under the impression that it was patriotic and joyful. It wasn't until I was 17 or 18 that I really understood it.

    He's talking about the country that he was born into, raised in, touted as the greatest in the world. He's talking about it in context to the Vietnam War. The character in the song has a brother and a lover of his brother, both whom are killed during this meaningless conflict. The lines "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"

    show that these vets are living dead-end lives with little or no positive change in their future. Even the line where he talks about the woman and his brother "They're long gone" shows that some peopel really didn't pay any attention to the people returning from Vietnam.

    ryfall101on August 10, 2012   Link
  • +2

    This is a song that has a lot of mixed emotion within it because he starts out describing where he grew up and fast forwards to how Vietnam forced our country into a war not of our making, yet the servicemen were persecuted spit on and called baby killers for trying to save lives and fight an enemy not of our making as well.

    He then expresses how we then have a country turned upside down to where the very country they were there to protect mistreated them no different than if we were foreigners from another country. The kind of crap that was thrown at them emotionally, physically, mental trauma and images they will never forget, "on top of" the crap they got from the very people you would expect a "heroes welcome" instead get the exact opposite, and they pretty much get their lives down the tubes because they protested the war to the point where they would not even hire a vet, because they fought in that war, that was not of their making.

    So the song shows the lack of appreciation and mistreatment of those who sacrificed everything to only be mistreated and scorned for serving the very country they were born in. The United States of America.

    Hence, "Born in the USA" the very country that bore them and once supported them, turned their backs on them for no reason other than protest against a war not of their choosing.

    It is a song of both history, pain, and sorrow for the lack of respect the soldiers who sacrificed for our country only to be screwed over by there fellow man.

    Meaning2Meon September 04, 2011   Link

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