Bruce Springsteen has always said that "Born in the U.S.A." is one of the best songs he's ever written. Thirty years after its release that statement still holds true for the artist, as well as fans and music critics worldwide. On this 30th anniversary year of Springsteen's seventh studio album, we separate fact from fiction about the album that changed the rock icon's career and life forever.
FACT OR FICTION? The "Born in the U.S.A." single tied Michael Jackson's record for the most weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Fiction. Shockingly, the single, released on October 30, 1984, never even hit No. 1 on the U.S. chart. It only peaked at No. 9. However, the album did feature seven Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, which tied Michael Jackson's record set with "Thriller" and later Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814." The album, however, did top The Billboard 200 album chart and has sold an astonishing 30 million copies worldwide.
FACT OR FICTION? "Born in the U.S.A." was written to show Springsteen's love of America.
Fiction. It's considered one of the most misinterpreted songs ever. The song is actually about America's poor treatment of Vietnam War veterans. Even Republican Ronald Reagan was fooled and used the song in his 1984 presidential campaign against Walter Mondale. Springsteen had him stop using the song immediately.
FACT OR FICTION? The song, "Born in the U.S.A.," was originally titled "Vietnam" for a film called "Born in the U.S.A."
Fact. "Born in the U.S.A." was the title of a Paul Schrader movie and, long story short, Springsteen was writing a song called "Vietnam" for the movie but ended up renaming his song to "Born in the U.S.A." Schrader ended up renaming his movie "Light of Day," which did not feature a Springsteen song that he performed. Instead it featured a song that Springsteen wrote, "Light of Day," which was recorded and performed by Joan Jett for that movie...did you get all that?
FACT OR FICTION? Springsteen chose the photo of his backside on the album's cover as a way to symbolize turning his back on American politics.
Fiction. A lot of people thought it also represented the artist urinating on the American flag. Neither is true. He told Rolling Stone in 1984: "No, no. That was unintentional. We took a lot of different types of pictures, and in the end, the picture of my ass looked better, than the picture of my face, so that's what went on the cover. I didn't have any secret message. I don't do that very much."
FACT OR FICTION? Courteney Cox's dance in Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" video inspired Alfonso Ribeiro's "Carlton Dance" in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Fact. In a 2013 interview in Buzzfeed, Ribeiro admitted his hilarious dance was inspired by two people: Courtney Cox, at the very end of the "Dancing in the Dark" video, as well as Eddie Murphy in "White Man Dance" in his stand-up comedy show, Raw. (However, in the article Ribeiro accidentally said it was from Murphy's Delirious.)
FACT OR FICTION? Bruce Springsteen donated a large portion of the $12 million Chrysler paid him to use "Born in the U.S.A." in their ad campaign to the Vietnam Veterans Association.
Fiction. It's true that Chrysler offered him $12 million, but he turned it down and has never used his music to help sell products. Kenny Rogers's "The Pride Is Back" was used in the spots instead.
FACT OR FICTION? Springsteen originally wrote the song "Cover Me" for disco diva Donna Summer.
Fact. But he and his manager, Jon Landau, loved the song so much that it ended up being the second single from "Born in the U.S.A." instead. The song peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
FACT OR FICTION? Being the working class symbol that he is, Bruce was unchanged by his newfound fame and financial gain from the incredible success of this album.
Fiction. He actually admitted to the contrary. "Yeah, there's a change. It doesn't make living easier, but it does make certain aspects of your life easier. You don't have to worry about rent, you can buy things for your folks and help out your friends, and you can have a good time, you know? There were moments where it was very confusing, because I realized that I was a rich man, but I felt like a poor man inside," he told Rolling Stone in December 1984.