Friday, January 20, 2012

New Springsteen Song: Born in the USA, Part Two

Awesome news: Bruce Springsteen has a new album coming out March 6. It's called "Wrecking Ball," after his last single, a track he put out in October 2009 to commemorate the destruction of Giant Stadium.

The first track is called "We Take Care Of Our Own," and the music video was released yesterday. On casual listen, it's pretty jingoistic - the music is reminiscent of the album The Rising, with Roy Bittan's uplifting keyboards, organs from newcomer Charlie Giordano, and a driving beat, and the chorus repeats the line "We take care of our own, wherever this flag is flown."

Don't be deceived. This song is actually Born in the U.S.A., Part II. That 1984 song's rocking chorus led Ronald Reagan to use it as his anthem - but the verses were about a Vietnam veteran who was "born in the USA" and then let down by his country. "We Take Care Of Our Own" is the same. The verses tell the story of a crumbling economy - of people who can't get work despite the rhetoric of politicians and pundits who pretend to care. Mostly Springsteen sings bout unemployment, but he even alludes to Hurricane Katrina, "from the shotgun shack to the Superdome." The chorus, like with Born in the USA, only sounds patriotic in order to point out that the promise of our authority figures' patriotism is a lie. It's a perfect song for a country who sees all its GDP growth go to its top 1% - a country where wages for more than 90% of us remain flat even in the boom times.

NPR compares the music to Arcade Fire and Flock of Seagulls, while calling the lyrics "pure boss... patriotic in the style of Mr. Smith and Dr. King." And THAT'S true patriotism.

(There is one theological line, though, where he says "the Calvary stayed home' - not the cavalry. And that seems odd for Springsteen, the man of "Land of Hope and Dreams" that seems almost ripped from the Gospels. I'll let it slide this time - it matches the song's true tone - but nothing could be further from the truth. Christ may not end the rough times, but he gets us through them.)


D said...

It's supposed to be 'cavalry.' I believe that's now been confirmed. 'Calvary' was a typical American mispronunciation (like nuculear/aluminum etc) followed through by whoever typed the lyrics for the video.

Nathan Empsall said...

Thanks, D. I've been a bit out of the loop lately, and that's good to hear.