Bruce Springsteen's song Born in the U.S.A.
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Various kinds of music are one of the most wide-spread ways to make a political campaign successful as it is an irrefutable fact that art, especially the art of high quality, can make a considerable influence on the consciousness of the citizens. What is more, “political songs helped to make campaign themes memorable, and therefore were highly effective ways of rallying the troops” (Cogan, Kelso, 2009, p. 124). Moreover, it “plays an integral role in commanding attention, communicating feelings, and persuading listeners” (Nelson,1997, p. 119). On the other hand, world history has an abundance of examples that demonstrated that, in numerous cases, songs were misunderstood and, therefore, used for the support of those political parties the leader of which was known to be a foe.
One of such samples is Bruce Springsteen and his song Born in the U.S.A. In his work, the author tried to show a veteran,who was returning from the Vietnam War. It was a personality who was suffering from “bad memories, a lack of work, lingering wounds and a lukewarm welcome – seemed to crystallize the betrayal of the American dream that was much on Springsteen’s mind” (Himes, 2005, p. 2). Obviously, the main topic of the song is both to touch upon the problems of the Vietnam War as well as to criticize certain aspects of the American society. This fact proved the absurdity of the usage of this song in the political campaign of Ronald Reagan. Bruce Springsteen was not supportive of the political views of Ronald Reagan whereas the candidate was not aware of the author’s political philosophy.
The example of the song Born in the U.S.A. demonstrates that an artist must control the way his/her material (in this case music and lyrics) is used and interpreted. First of all, each author has his/her rights so that he/she has an opportunity to restrict any usage of his/her artistic work if it does any harm to his/her personality and views in particularly. In such cases, an author can forbid the usage of his/her artistic work. Furthermore, the author has a right to have his/her work to be interpreted in the way he/she desires to. It is of common knowledge that those authors who are considered to be highly-qualified and gifted cannot help implying some hidden or metaphorical meaning in his/her work. This meaning must be understood by the audience in the right way. The song Born in the U.S.A. was misinterpreted so that Bruce Springsteen could restrict its usage in the political campaign as it promoted the views that were opposite to the ones discussed in the work.
On the other hand, the abovementioned song is one of the negative kinds of experience. A lot of political songs had not only a positive impact on the audience but also rendered the intentions and the views of the politicians as much as it was possible. For instance, “the campaign team of Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used “Happy Days are Here Again” in the Campaign of 1932 to convey a message of upbeat optimism, and the song itself has come to be an election standard bearer as a result” (Roberts, Hammond, 2012, p. 6). The song is known to be copyrighted by Jack Yellen who was responsible for lyrics and Milton Ager who worked on music. The aim of the politicians was achieved as the lyrics and the manner of singing tries to persuade the audience that each of them is going to be on the top of the wave as all troubles have already been in the past. The choice of the song was more than successful as it helped to make an abundance of people feel happier and more optimistic. They started to believe that their life conditions can be given an added gloss if they elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Hillary Clinton also was eager to use songs for her political campaign. In order to make it successful, she chose a ballad You and I, which was aimed to persuade the listeners that they deserve to live better. At first, the song was used for the commercial for the potential audiences to get acquainted with it. The lyrics of the ballad touched upon the most significant aspect of human life: a human’s desire to be happy. This step of Hillary Clinton’s political campaign became successful and helped her to gain a larger amount of advocates than she had earlier.
Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow,which was created by Fleetwood Mac, was one more song that was used during the political campaign of Clinton and Gore in 1992. The lyrics of this song were aimed at making the audience understand that there was no reason for them to look back at their history. The author states that it is worth thinking about the next day; in other words, it is noteworthy to analyze their future.
What is more, the author admits that he wants his audience to smile. It is evident that if a person smiles, he/she can be considered to be happy. The author states that in spite of the fact that it is quite unbelievable that he wants to see someone’s smile, it is true, and he wishes no harm for anybody. The sense of these words played an integral role in the political campaign of the abovementioned candidates as it helped them to persuade the voters that they are sincere with them; they desire to improve their life conditions, and, in this way, they are going to make the American citizens happier. In some cases, such form of expressing one’s point of view as songs has much more considerable impact on the personality so that Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow became a successful choice.
In conclusion, it is noteworthy to underscore that songs are a very popular means of promoting a political party or its representatives. On the other hand, an author of a song should control the way his/her work of art is used and interpreted. The majority of cases that were analyzed in the paper showed that most of the songs rendered the intentions and the political philosophy of the candidates. The exception was Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, who needed to forbid the usage of his song by the party whose political views were not shared by him.