25 Albums That Shaped My Life
Born In the U.S.A.
Columbia Records, 1984
My parents' 8-Tracks triggered my interest in music, but The Boss set me on the path to rock 'n' roll. Prior to 1984, I was really into the pop-country of the day. I have memories of watching Hee-Haw at our first house in St. Louis Park and playing Mom's Kenny Rogers, Kendalls, and Oak Ridge Boys tapes, but hearing "Born In the U.S.A." at age 7 closed the door on country music for me for the next dozen or so years.
Seven is an extremely impressionable age. Growing up in the middle class suburbs during the Reagan '80s, I was immediately drawn to the unforgettable synthesizer hook and anthemic chorus. Like many did (and still do), I interpreted the song as a proud national anthem. Obviously, at that age it wasn't really my fault. So many of the millions who made the song and album a blockbuster chose to ignore the verses while bellowing the chorus. I was simply too young to understand them.
Thankfully, there was so much more to love on the album beyond the misunderstood title track. I especially loved "I'm Goin' Down," "I'm On Fire," "Bobbie Jean," and of course, "Dancing in the Dark." I was about to turn into a rock 'n' roll machine. I began listening to WLOL and KQRS religiously and I kept wanting to rock harder... as you'll see in the days to come.