Sunday, July 19, 2015

Incorrect: "Born In The USA", by Bruce Springsteen

Poor old Bruce. This has to be one of the most consistently misunderstood and misused songs in history. A blistering anti-Vietnam war screed and not the uber-patriotic anthem that many - including clueless presidential candidates - think it is.

It's also the perfect song to sing along to loudly, and without shame. That is until you get to the second verse, where Bruce bellows:

"Got in a little hometown jam, so they put a rifle in my hand / Sent me off to a foreign land, to go and kill the Yellow Man."

Oh dear. Unlike the 'n' word, the term 'yellow' has never been widely reclaimed by those it disparages. While Springsteen clearly did not intend to offend, it is nonetheless a jarring line and a glaring reminder that no matter how progressive our politics, we can't really escape the time in which we live.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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