Another Side of “Born in the U.S.A.”: Form, Paradox, and Rhetorical Indirection

Jason Schneider

Abstract


“Born in the U.S.A.” has been one of the most important and controversial songs of Bruce Springsteen’s career. For some listeners, the song is a pro-America anthem; for others, it is a scathing commentary on American government and society. This paper challenges both of those views, arguing that the song’s apparently contradictory musical form and lyrical content interact to produce a collective rhetorical effect. In this view, “Born in the U.S.A.” is not an argument for a specific political ideology but rather a multilayered and multidirectional interrogation of the paradoxes of national belonging.

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