Hear Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires Strip Down 'Born in the U.S.A.'

The pair cover the anti-war hit for 'Dead Man's Town,' a forthcoming Springsteen tribute

July 2, 2014 10:00 AM ET
Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell
Michael Wilson

Three decades after the record's original release, a group of country and country-influenced artists are reimagining Born in the U.S.A., covering its 12 songs with a reduced approach more influenced by that of the acoustic Nebraska, Springsteen's prior release. The full LP, titled Dead Man's Town, will be released on September 16th through Lightning Rod Records, but here you can listen to the album's opener, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires' version of the iconic title track.

See where Born in the U.S.A. placed on our 100 Best Albums of the 1980s

"'Born in the U.S.A.' is one of my favorite songs of Springsteen's, making it one of my favorite ever," Isbell tells Rolling Stone. "I love that the song paints a picture of struggle in the face of the American dream, and the irony in the chorus is delivered with such force that it nearly transcends irony altogether."

Adds Shires: "Because I write songs and play rock & roll shows, Springsteen is obviously a hero of mine. 'Born in the U.S.A.' is one of my favorites because so many people have seemingly misunderstood the lyrical content and the song's overall tone. When you listen to the demo, the dark, minor key arrangement makes it clear that this is not strictly a song of celebration. We wanted to stay true to that version."

Below, stream the pair's take on the song and take a look at the Dead Man's Town track list, which also features Blitzen Trapper, Holly Williams, Trampled by Turtles and Justin Townes Earle.

1. Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, "Born in the U.S.A."
2. Apache Relay, "Cover Me"
3. Quaker City Nighthawks, "Darlington County"
4. Blitzen Trapper, "Working on the Highway"
5. Joe Pug, "Downbound Train"
6. Low, "I'm on Fire"
7. Holly Williams, "No Surrender"
8. Ryan Culwell, "Bobby Jean"
9. Trampled by Turtles, "I’m Goin’ Down"
10. Justin Townes Earle, "Glory Days"
11. Nicole Atkins, "Dancing in the Dark"
12. North Mississippi All-Stars, "My Hometown"

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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