Bruce Springsteen Lyrics
Born In the U.S.A. (Introduction) Lyrics
So it's, it's 1980, I'm 30 years old, I'm on another cross country trip with a buddy of mine, and we stop outside of Phoenix to gas up, go into a small town drugstore, I'm riflin' through a rack of paperback books, I come across a book called "Born on the Fourth of July" by a Vietnam veteran named Ron Kovic. Now this book was a testimony of the experience he'd had as a combat infantry man in southeast Asia. Week or two later, I'm bunked in at the fabulous Sunset Marquis Motel in Los Angeles. Uh, for the uninformed, it's kind of an upscale, uh, low-life rockstar hangout, alright? Uh, small world theory. Small world theory proves itself once again. I been seein' a young guy with shoulder-length hair sittin' in a wheelchair by the pool for several days. So uh, one afternoon, he rolled up to me and said, "Hi, I'm Ron Kovic. I wrote a book called 'Born on the Fourth of July'". I said, "Jesus, I just, I just read it, and when it, it destroyed me", and, he spent the afternoon
Talkin' to me about many returned soldiers who were struggling with a wide variety of problems and he wanted to know if I'd take a drive with him to the vet center in Venice, meet some of the southern California veterans. So I said sure, next day we headed out there and I'm usually pretty easy with people, but once we were at the center, I didn't know how to respond to what I was seein'. Uh, talkin' about my own life to these guys seemed frivolous. There was homelessness and drug problems and post-traumatic stress, and young guys my age dealing with life-changing physical injuries, and it made me think about my own friends from back home. Walter Cichon. Walter Cichon was the greatest rock 'n' roll frontman on the Jersey shore in the bar band 60's. He was in a group called The Motifs, and he was the first real rockstar that I ever laid my eyes on. He just had it in his bones, he had it in his blood, it was in the way he carried himself. On stage, he just, was deadly. He was raw and sexual, and dangerous and in our little area, he taught us, by the way that he lived, that you could live your life the way you chose, you could look the way you wanted to look, you could play the music you wanted to play, you could be who you wanted to be, and you could tell anyone who didn't like it to go fuck themselves. Walter had a guitar playin' brother, Raymond. Raymond was tall, tall kind of sweetly clumsy guy, one of those big guys, who just isn't comfortable with his size. He's always like, ooh, ooh, knockin' into shit wherever he is, and wherever that is, there is just not enough space for Raymond, for some reason. And uh, but, but then strangely he was always dressed impeccably, ya know, with a pastel shirt, long pointed collar, shark skin pants, nylon socks, spit-shined pointy toed shoes, slicked back black hair with a little curl that would come down when he was playin' the guitar. Uh, Raymond was my guitar hero. And he was just a shoe salesman in the day. And uh, Walter I think worked construction, and they were only a little bit older than we were. Never had any national hit records. Never did any big tours. But they were gods to me. And uh, the hours I spent standing in front of their band, studying, studying, studying, class in session, night after night watchin' Ray's fingers fly over the fretboard and Walter scare, the shit outta half the crowd, oh man. Ya know, they were essential to my development as a young musician. I learned so much from Walter and from Ray. And my dream was I just wanted to play like Ray, and walk like Walter.
And then there was Bart Hanes. Bart Hanes was the drummer from my first band, The Castilles. He was the first real drummer I ever played with. He was absurdly funny kid, classic class clown, was a good good drummer, with one strange quirk - couldn't play "Wipeout" by The Safaris. This may not seem so critical to you right now, I understand, but, in those days, your skills, your mettle, your self-worth as a drummer and as a human being, was tested in front of your peers once an evening by your performance of "Wipeout". Now Bart could play every other fucking thing, but when it came to "Wipeout" - beyond his capabilities. Was tragic, ya know. One day, he got off, he got up off the drum stool, he joined the Marines, then uh, Walter and Bart, they were both killed in the war in 1967 and '68. Bart was the first young man from our hometown to give his life in Vietnam. So, I really didn't know what to say to the guys I was meeting in Venice. I sat there for most of the afternoon and just listened. Then in 1982 I wrote and I recorded my soldier story. It was a protest song, the G.I. blues. The verses were just accounting of events, the choruses were a declaration of your birthplace, and the right to all the blood, and the confusion, and the pride, and the shame, and the grace, that comes with birthplace. 1969, Mad Dog, little Vinnie, and myself, we were all drafted, on the exact same day. All three of us. We rode together early one Monday morning from the selective service office on probably the unhappiest bus that ever pulled out of Asbury Park. Because we were on our way to what we were sure was going to be our funeral. We'd seen it already, all very up close. And when we got to the Newark draft board, we did everything we could not to go. And uh, we succeeded, all three of us, when I go to Washington, and I vacation to visit Walter and Bart, I'm glad that Mad Dog's, little Vinnie's, for that matter, my name, isn't up on, on that wall, but it was 1969 and thousands and thousands of young men to come would be called, simply sacrificed, just to save face for the powers that be, who by then already knew, they knew it was a lost cause. And still thousands and thousands of more young boys. So uh, so I do sometimes who went in my place, because somebody did.