‘Born In The U.S.A.’ Hit #1 34 Years Ago Today: What’s Your Favorite Track? [POLL]
Thirty four years gone by in a wink of a young girl's eye.
Bruce Springsteen went to number 1 on the US album chart with 'Born In The USA' 34 years ago today - July 7th, 1984. The album went on to spend an astounding 139 weeks on the chart. It's also only one of three albums (Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' and Janet Jackson's 'Rhythm Nation 1814' the others) to produce seven Top-ten US singles. To date it's eclipsed the 30 million mark in sales and who knows how many streams and downloads it gets these days. Odds are it's a number that's just as impressive.
My brother-in-law Tom was the one who got me into Springsteen. He was and still is a huge fan. I borrowed his copy of Bruce's '75-'85 live box set and never looked back after that. I started collecting his studio albums one-by-one, week-by-week and when it came time to finally get my copy of 'Born In The U.S.A.' I was not disappointed. The album certainly lived up to its legendary status by the time I got it which was around '89 or so.
From the drum-pounding opening of the title track to the bittersweet synthesizer riff fading out of the last track "My Hometown" it was album perfection. Twelve tracks total; over half of them huge radio and MTV singles while the remaining five album tracks fit just right - like a perfectly worn-in pair of blue jeans. We'll throw in a really cool red bandana along with it.
So it's a no-brainer that all twelve tracks on 'Born In The U.S.A.' are classics but which is the best one? Not an easy pick, I know.
My choice is one of the album tracks although it could have easily have been another hit single and that is "Downbound Train". This is everything I love about Bruce Springsteen wrapped into one. It opens with a great riff from Bruce who is not hailed for his guitar skills nearly as much as he should be. He has a distinct tone that stands out and this track is a great example. After the riff comes Max Weinberg drum-rolling into a heart-pounding beat of over Garry Tallent's bass thumping which is enhanced to perfection by the synthesizer work of "The Professor" Roy Bittan. Maybe the most impressive part of the song comes at the 1:36 mark when it's the ghost-like synthesizers and Bruce painting a brooding picture of a man who is clearly reeling from a love gone bad:
Last night I heard your voice
You were crying, crying, you were so alone
You said your love had never died
You were waiting for me at home
Put on my jacket, I ran through the woods
I ran till I thought my chest would explode
There in the clearing, beyond the highway
In the moonlight, our wedding house shone
I rushed through the yard
I burst through the front door, my head pounding hard
Up the stairs I climbed
The room was dark, our bed was empty
Then I heard that long whistle whine
And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and cried
Like several other 'Born in the U.S.A.' songs, including "Working on the Highway" and the title track, a solo acoustic version of "Downbound Train" was originally recorded on the demo that eventually became the 'Nebraska' album. I think the results speak for themselves when I say that a great Springsteen song is made even that much better by the E Street Band.
Now it's your turn. Tell me what your favorite track from the album that's still #1 in our hearts 34 years later - Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The U.S.A.'