After writing at least sixty songs and spending the better part of two years in the studio, Bruce Springsteen has finally completed his seventh album, Born in the U.S.A. The LP will be released early in June; a single, “Dancing in the Dark,” which is backed with a nonalbum track called “Pink Cadillac,” came out May 10th. A tour is expected to start in July, somewhere in the Midwest, though exact dates and venues are still being considered.
Other than releasing the twelve song titles – “Born in the U.S.A.” “Cover Me,” “Darlington County,” “Working on the Highway,” “Downbound Train,” “I’m On Fire,” “No Surrender,” “Bobby Jean,” “I’m Goin’ Down,” “Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark” and “My Hometown” – Springsteen’s representatives have been tight-lipped about the album.
According to other sources, however, the record marks a significant change in direction from Springsteen’s previous albums: Bom in the U.S.A., they say, is not a heavy, message-oriented LP. It is simply a lot of fun.
One indication of this is that Springsteen joined mixmaster Arthur Baker one night to prepare a twelve-inch (but nondisco) version of “Dancing in the Dark.” “He sort of came up with a password for the evening: ‘Later for the subtlety,”‘ recalled Baker, who added at least fourteen new tracks – from glockenspiels to backup vocals – to the song.
Though many of the album’s songs were written in the last few months, some of the material from Born in the U.S.A. dates as far back as late 1981, when Springsteen and the E Street Band first assembled at the Power Station in New York to begin recording what was to be a rock & roll album. At the time. Springsteen’s songwriting was strongly influenced by his reading of the Southern short-story writer Flannery O’Connor and a book about the Charlie Starkweather killings. The full-band performances of these dark, brooding songs didn’t satisfy Springsteen, however, and his solution, of course, was to release his home demos – bare-bones instrumentals and vocals – as the album titled Nebraska, in 1982.
Springsteen continued working, and by the end of 1982, he and his band completed a rock & roll album, which was played for musician pals like Bob Seger. But, as is his wont, Springsteen decided not to release the project; instead, he wrote more songs and did more recording. Songs from this aborted 1982 collection also turn up on Born in the U.S.A.
Since starting recording in 1981, Springsteen has written between sixty and a hundred songs. In addition, he has spent a considerable amount of time selecting the songs for the album, and even after the record was first turned in to Columbia in late March, an additional song, “No Surrender,” was added.
Neither side of the album cover depicts Springsteen’s face. The front is a shot of his torso with an American flag in the background; the rear is a picture of Springsteen’s rear, jean-clad, with a baseball cap sticking out of one of the pockets. Since completing the record, Springsteen has been relaxing in his New Jersey home; rehearsals for the forthcoming tour will begin as soon as E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons’ tour is finished. In addition, Springsteen is planning to make a video for “Dancing in the Dark.” At press time, no director had been selected, though the British team of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, formerly members of 10cc and directors of Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” video, were considered the front-runners. Feature-film director John Sayles was also a possibility.
Those who’ve heard the unreleased tracks assert that there is an album’s worth of material left over. Springsteen has reportedly discussed releasing some of those songs as early as the end of the year. Sources, however, scotched the persistent rumor that a more dour assortment of songs, purportedly titled Murder, Inc., will be released at tour’s end.
This story appears in the June 7th, 1984 issue of Rolling Stone.