Born in the USA: Music as Political Protest

Bruce Springsteen, in the tradition of American songwriters, uses music to express political views. Song lyrics—including (or especially) those that criticize government—are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” is a poetic work set to music. Many regard the song—and particularly its chorus—as a patriotic anthem. A closer look at the lyrics in its verses, however, reveals something far more complex than simple patriotism. In this lesson, students will analyze the song’s lyrics for a variety of rhetorical devices to discover how the song is both a praise and indictment of America.

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