BORN IN THE U.S.A.

Official studio version


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

Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refineries
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He says "Son don't you understand"

Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Hoo hoo hoo!
Hoo!

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go
Hoo!

I'm a long gone daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Hoo hoo hoo!
Hoo hoo


Info

The above lyrics are for a studio version of BORN IN THE U.S.A. recorded in late December 1981 or early January 1982 at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ. This version is actually a solo acoustic guitar demo, drastically different from the album version. It was included on the Nebraska demo tape of 03 Jan 1982 (see the below section for more details).

This official studio version of BORN IN THE U.S.A. was first released on the Tracks box set in 1998 and was later included on the 18 Tracks compilation in 1999.

The Nebraska Demo Tape

Following The River Tour, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band were scheduled to start recording the next album in New York City in February 1982. Springsteen felt that the upcoming band studio sessions would progress faster than they had for his previous three albums if he first records finished demos and demonstrates them to the band. He decided to record multi-channel, professional sounding, finished demos of some songs he had written during the period.

To achieve his goal, Springsteen asked his guitar technician, Mike Batlan, in December 1981 to set up a recording facility in a spare room at his home in Colts Neck, NJ. Some modification work was done to the room making it more receptive to achieving a decent sound. Batlan purchased a Teac Tascom Series 144 4-track cassette recorder, two Shure SM57 microphones, and two microphone stands. The sound was mixed through an old Gibson Echoplex and an old Panasonic boom box acted as the mix-down deck.

The four-track cassette recorder that Bruce Springsteen used to record his famous Nebraska demo tape of January 1982
The four-track cassette recorder that Bruce Springsteen used to record his famous Nebraska demo tape of January 1982

Batlan told journalist David McGee, "Springsteen began organizing his work for Nebraska during the first week of December 1981 – that's when I was directed to buy the four-track... actual recording began on 17 or 18 December and ended around January 3." Some of the songs were recorded two or three times in slightly different arrangements. A cassette tape was compiled and edited at the end of the sessions, likely on 03 Jan 1982. It contained fourteen songs recorded during these late December 1981 / early January 1982 sessions plus what is almost certainly a live recording of a fifteenth song, JOHNNY BYE-BYE. It also included seven alternate takes and five alternate mixes. The first person to listen to the tape was Jon Landau. Two or three months later, Springsteen recorded two additional songs (MY FATHER'S HOUSE and THE BIG PAYBACK) at home on the same equipment – thus making a total of 17 different songs.

  1. NEBRASKA (released on Nebraska)
  2. ATLANTIC CITY (released on Nebraska)
  3. MANSION ON THE HILL (released on Nebraska)
  4. BORN IN THE U.S.A. (released on Tracks)
  5. JOHNNY 99 (released on Nebraska)
  6. DOWNBOUND TRAIN (unreleased)
  7. LOSIN' KIND (unreleased)
  8. STATE TROOPER (released on Nebraska)
  9. USED CARS (released on Nebraska)
  10. OPEN ALL NIGHT (released on Nebraska)
  11. PINK CADILLAC (unreleased)
  12. HIGHWAY PATROLMAN (released on Nebraska)
  13. REASON TO BELIEVE (released on Nebraska)
  14. CHILD BRIDE (unreleased)
  15. MY FATHER'S HOUSE (released on Nebraska)
  16. THE BIG PAYBACK (released as a B-side)
  17. JOHNNY BYE-BYE (unreleased live version)

Tracks

In the liner notes of his Tracks box set, Bruce Springsteen introduces the box set as follows:

During long intervals between my record releases, as I was spending more and more time in the studio, when I met a fan out on the street I was often asked, "What are you guys doing in there?" I regularly pondered that question myself.

What we were doing in there was making a lot of music, a lot more music than I could use at any one time. As a result, my albums became a series of choices – what to include, what to leave out? I based my decisions on my creative point of view at the moment – the subject I was trying to focus on, something musical or emotional I was trying to express. In certain instances, as on Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and The Ghost of Tom Joad, these choices crystallized the album I was making. On some of my other records the reasons I had for choosing one song over another, in hindsight, feel a good deal less significant. One of the results of working like this was that a lot of music, including some of my favorite things, remained unreleased.

This collection contains everything from the first notes I sang in the Columbia recording studio, my early and later work with the E Street Band, through to my music in the 90s. It's the alternate route to some of the destinations I travelled to on my records, an invitation into the studio on the many nights we spent making music in search of the records we presented to you. I'm glad to finally be able to share this music; here are some of the ones that got away.

- Bruce Springsteen, September 1998

Bruce Springsteen's albums were thematically linked even if they were not strictly concept albums; so some tracks that didn't fit the theme of the album ended up orphaned, not necessarily because they didn't meet his high standards, but because, he says, they didn't fit in with the tone or themes he mined for each set. Many of these unreleased studio outtakes got under the hands of bootleggers. Discussing that issue in 1984, Springsteen told Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder, "We record a lot of material, but we just don't release it all. [...] I always tell myself that some day I'm gonna put an album out with all this stuff on it that didn't fit in. I think there's some good material there that should come out. Maybe at some point, I'll do that."

During a break in The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, Springsteen thought that "if it's gonna be a year or longer in between records, I have all this music that I know is very good that I never released and I should release some of it whether it was just a CD or something. In that period of time, I should put something out because people would like to have it and I'd like to see it get out." He told Toby Scott (his audio archivist and recording engineer), "send me all the archives, send everything that we recorded". Scott then went to work gathering the potential material from Springsteen's massive audio library (located, along with Sony's sound archives, in the high-tech Iron Mountain facility near Buffalo, NY). "For a week or so," he told Billboard in a Nov 1998 interview, "I just listened to everything that I'd done that we hadn't put out. I made some very brief notes in a notebook, and then I just put it away. It was something that I could do at some point when I get to that place in a new project where I'm not sure how long it's going to take and it would be nice to sort of fill the gap so the fans wouldn't be so long without hearing any music from me".

Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo magazine published in January 1999, "So it began just with that idea and we listened to about 250 songs, maybe more, I made quick notes in a notebook and put it away. A year went by, more maybe, and I came off the Tom Joad tour and I began to write acoustically again and I wrote about half a record. Then I got stuck and said, 'Well, I'm going to put this aside for a while.' Then I wrote half of an electric record, and hit the same place. So I thought, instead of waiting for another year to put something out I'll put some of this music together. So once again I went back to the archives." According to interview comments made by engineer Toby Scott (Springsteen's audio archivist and recording engineer), it was in February 1998 during solo sessions being conducted at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ, that Springsteen told Scott that the time was right to proceed with the long-anticipated box set of archived, unreleased studio takes. Thrill Hill Recording served as the main operational center for all Tracks project activities. Note that the "Thrill Hill Recording" name is used for whatever home studio Springsteen is recording at, whether it's in Rumson, NJ, Colts, NJ, or Beverly Hills, CA.

Springsteen told Billboard that the songs were culled from between 200 and 300 tunes. According to Toby Scott, the number was down to about 128 songs by late June 1998. It was then narrowed down yet again in July to about 100 songs that were prepped for the Tracks release. Although the project was originally projected to be a 6-disc set, there was a commercial decision made later in the summer to reduce the size of the release to a 4-disc (66-track) set. The package was delivered to Sony in mid-September in order to facilitate the mid-November 1998 release schedule.

Unreleased songs from the Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ sessions were not included on the box set due to ongoing and still-unresolved court proceedings involving most of these unreleased 1972 recordings. The court battle wasn't resolved until in 2001 (April 2001 in the UK and June 2001 in the U.S.), and those recordings are now free for release at any time. The opening four tracks of the box set – which were culled from Springsteen's 03 May 1972 Columbia Records audition – were not part of the court proceedings.

The Tracks box set was released on Columbia Records on 10 Nov 1998, issued on both compact disc and audio cassette formats. It's a 4-disc (or 4-cassette) set consisting of a total of 66 tracks (almost 4.5 hours long), 10 of which were heretofore unavailable single B-sides, 6 were demos and alternate versions of already-released material, and 50 (48 studio and 2 live) were never-before-released songs recorded during the sessions for Springsteen's many albums. Some tracks were treated with a recent touch-up here or there to give the older recordings a fresh polish.

  • Disc 1 consists of material from 1972 to 1980, including Springsteen's very first Columbia Records audition for legendary A & R executive John Hammond. This disc also features additional songs most of which recorded for (but never released on) Springsteen's first four albums.
  • Disc 2 consists of material from 1979 to 1983, taken primarily from the recording sessions of The River, Nebraska, and Born In The U.S.A.. Springsteen describes this disc as "almost the completely other album from 'The River'."
  • Disc 3 consists of material from 1982 to 1987, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Born In The U.S.A. and Tunnel Of Love.
  • Disc 4 consists of material from 1989 to 1998, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Human Touch.
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks

Disc 1 (CD format):

1.MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSASRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
2.IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITYRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
3.GROWIN' UPRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
4.DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
5.BISHOP DANCEDRecorded live on 31 Jan 1973 at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
6.SANTA ANARecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
7.SEASIDE BAR SONGRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
8.ZERO AND BLIND TERRYRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
9.LINDA LET ME BE THE ONERecorded on 28 Jun 1975 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
10.THUNDERCRACKRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
11.RENDEZVOUSRecorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
12.GIVE THE GIRL A KISSRecorded on 10 Nov 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
13.ICEMANRecorded on 27 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
14.BRING ON THE NIGHTRecorded on 13 Jun 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
15.SO YOUNG AND IN LOVERecorded on 06 Jan 1978 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
16.HEARTS OF STONERecorded on 14 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
17.DON'T LOOK BACKRecorded on 02 Jul 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY

Disc 2 (CD format):

1.RESTLESS NIGHTSRecorded on 11 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
2.A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND (PITTSBURGH)Recorded on 05 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
3.ROULETTERecorded on 03 Apr 1978 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.DOLLHOUSERecorded on 21 Aug 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.WHERE THE BANDS ARERecorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
6.LOOSE ENDSRecorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
7.LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLDRecorded on 07 Dec 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.WAGES OF SINRecorded on 10 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
9.TAKE 'EM AS THEY COMERecorded on 10 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
10.BE TRUERecorded on 21 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
11.RICKY WANTS A MAN OF HER OWNRecorded on 16 Jul 1979 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
12.I WANNA BE WITH YOURecorded on 31 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
13.MARY LOURecorded on 30 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
14.STOLEN CARRecorded on 26 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
15.BORN IN THE U.S.A.Recorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
16.JOHNNY BYE-BYERecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA
17.SHUT OUT THE LIGHTRecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording

Disc 3 (CD format):

1.CYNTHIARecorded on 20 Apr 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
2.MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWNRecorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
3.THIS HARD LANDRecorded on 11 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.FRANKIERecorded on 14 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.TV MOVIERecorded on 13 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
6.STAND ON ITRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
7.LION'S DENRecorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.CAR WASHRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
9.ROCKAWAY THE DAYSRecorded on 03 Feb 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
10.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGES ('83)Recorded on 04 Sep 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
11.MAN AT THE TOPRecorded on 12 Jan 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
12.PINK CADILLACRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
13.TWO FOR THE ROADRecorded in February 1987 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
14.JANEY DON'T YOU LOSE HEARTRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
15.WHEN YOU NEED MERecorded on 10 Jan 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
16.THE WISHRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
17.THE HONEYMOONERSRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
18.LUCKY MANRecorded on 04 Apr 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY

Disc 4 (CD format):

1.LEAVIN' TRAINRecorded on 27 Feb 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
2.SEVEN ANGELSRecorded on 29 Jun 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
3.GAVE IT A NAMERecorded on 24 Aug 1998 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
4.SAD EYESRecorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
5.MY LOVER MANRecorded on 04 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
6.OVER THE RISERecorded on 07 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
7.WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUTRecorded on 06 Dec 1990 at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
8.LOOSE CHANGERecorded on 31 Jan 1991 at Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
9.TROUBLE IN PARADISERecorded on 01 Dec 1989 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
10.HAPPYRecorded on 18 Jan 1992 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
11.PART MAN, PART MONKEYRecorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
12.GOIN' CALIRecorded on 29 Jan 1991 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
13.BACK IN YOUR ARMSRecorded on 12 Jan 1995 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
14.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGERecorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA

18 Tracks

18 Tracks is an album compiling 15 tracks from the Tracks box set, in addition to 3 previously unreleased recordings. The collection release was intended for the more casual fans who didn't purchase the pricey 4-disc box set. It also served the purpose as a promotional tie-in for the E Street Band's The Reunion Tour that was announced at the same time of the sampler's release.

Bruce Springsteen -- 18 Tracks
Bruce Springsteen -- 18 Tracks

18 Tracks was released on 13 Apr 1999 on Columbia Records. It features 18 Springsteen compositions and clocks at 71:12. The was released on CD, cassette tape, and as a vinyl record.

1.GROWIN' UPRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
2.SEASIDE BAR SONGRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
3.RENDEZVOUSRecorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
4.HEARTS OF STONERecorded on 14 Oct 1977 at Record Plant, New York City, NY
5.WHERE THE BANDS ARERecorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
6.LOOSE ENDSRecorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
7.I WANNA BE WITH YOURecorded on 31 May 1979at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.BORN IN THE U.S.A.Recorded in January 1982 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
9.MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWNRecorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
10.LION'S DENRecorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
11.PINK CADILLACRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
12.JANEY DON'T YOU LOSE HEARTRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
13.SAD EYESRecorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
14.PART MAN, PART MONKEYRecorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
15.TROUBLE RIVERRecorded on 06 Apr 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
16.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGERecorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA
17.THE FEVERRecorded on 16 May 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
18.THE PROMISERecorded on 12 Feb 1999 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ

Other Official Releases

In addition to its release on Tracks and 18 Tracks, the official studio version of BORN IN THE U.S.A. was also included on Tracks Sampler. It was also included on the I Wanna Be With You EP in Europe and Japan and on an unreleased configuration of the Sad Eyes EP in the UK.

Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler

CD - Columbia (CSK 41561) - USA, 1998

This is a single-disc advance promotional sampler compiling 15 tracks from the Tracks box set. The sampler was issued in the USA, Australia, and Germany.
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler

CD - Columbia (CSK 41561) - Australia, 1998

This is a single-disc advance promotional sampler compiling 15 tracks from the Tracks box set. The sampler was issued in the USA, Australia, and Germany.
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks Sampler

CD - Columbia (CSK 41561) - Germany, 1998

This is a single-disc advance promotional sampler compiling 15 tracks from the Tracks box set. The sampler was issued in the USA, Australia, and Germany.
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you

CD EP - Columbia (667025 2) - Austria, 1999

Made in Austria for the European market.

01- I WANNA BE WITH YOU
02- WHERE THE BANDS ARE
03- BORN IN THE U.S.A.
04- BACK IN YOUR ARMS
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you

CD EP - Columbia (667206 2) - Austria, 1999

Made in Austria for the German market.

01- I WANNA BE WITH YOU
02- SAD EYES
03- WHERE THE BANDS ARE
04- BORN IN THE U.S.A.
05- BACK IN YOUR ARMS
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you
Bruce Springsteen -- I Wanna Be With you

CD EP - Sony (SRCS 8800) - Japan, 1999

01- I WANNA BE WITH YOU
02- WHERE THE BANDS ARE
03- BORN IN THE U.S.A.
04- BACK IN YOUR ARMS
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes

CD single - Columbia (667491 5) - UK, 1999

Unreleased second commercial UK pressing.

01- SAD EYES
02- BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Official studio version]
03- PINK CADILLAC

Bootleg Releases

Prior to its release on Tracks, this official studio version of BORN IN THE U.S.A. appeared on The Lost Masters Vol. 1 (Labour Of Love) [track 04] bootleg.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Lost Masters Vol. 1 (Labour Of Love)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Lost Masters Vol. 1 (Labour Of Love)

Available Versions

List of available versions of BORN IN THE U.S.A. on this website:

BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Album version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Official studio version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 05 Aug 1984 version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 23 Apr 1988 version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 08 Dec 1998 version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 09 Dec 1998 version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 11 Dec 1998 version]
BORN IN THE U.S.A. [Live 14 Dec 1998 version]

Page last updated: 09 Jan 2016