You grow up singing them, you can’t drive without them, they fill your day and on into your night. Your favorite songs are a part of your life, and always will be. You may think you know what the lyrics mean, but do you really? Some are the stuff of legends, others are just really hard to understand, but a number of hugely popular songs don’t mean what most people think they do.
1) “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s song is so rousing, with such an impressive beat, the handlers for Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign tried to sign Springsteen to allow the song to be used as a sort of theme at campaign rallies. The Gipper was so impressed with the feel of the song that he figured it would help lead him to victory in the coming election. Too bad.
The no doubt horrified anti-Reagan singer turned him down flat, although the in-joke would have been epic if Bruce had allowed the campaign to go on. It’s obvious that Reagan’s support staff never did any research on this song. It’s about a guy who gets into trouble in his home town and avoids it by joining up to go to Vietnam and fight in the war.
When he lives through it and comes home, he’s shunned by everyone around him, just as many Vietnam vets were. He can’t get a job, and he’s turned into a complete outcast by the very people he was sent to protect. The angry shouts of “born in the USA” are those of frustration and rage, not of pride.