Sunday, May 29, 2011

Song Chain => War and Memory: Born in the USA

Richard Shindell: Born in the USA


From transformative covers of songs with California in the titles, it’s not hard to get to another transformative cover. This one also kicks off a week of songs about people affected by wars, both soldiers and those who waited for them at home. It’s all in honor of Memorial Day, but I hope this theme resonates for our readers in countries other than the United States as well.

Here then, is Richard Shindell’s version of Bruce Springstein’s Born in the USA. The lyric presents a portrait of a man who served in Vietnam, and now he is trying to make it as a civilian, while still holding on to the memories of the men he served with. Springstein’s original recording was a rock anthem, and people latched onto it as a patriotic song. But for me, Shindell’s version does a better job of focusing on the lyric, and therefore brings the protagonist to life more vividly. Springstein is an artist I have a great admiration for, but this is one time when his performance did not best serve his lyric. I’m sure any number of Springstein fans will disagree with me in the comments; I would ask that you do so respectfully.

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