‘Born in the USA,’ John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp performs "Born in the USA" in 2009.

John Mellencamp performs “Born in the USA” in 2009.

Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” has sometimes been misunderstood as a statement of blind patriotism: Its anguished tale of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the United States is not that simple. Most of The Boss’ fans understand that at this point, and John Mellencamp certainly did when he turned in a stellar version of the song when Springsteen was awarded with Kennedy Center Honors in 2009. Check it out below.

“I was very proud and humbled to have been able to play ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ in a different fashion — that I think was true to the feelings that Bruce had when he wrote it,” Mellencamp wrote on his web site, mellencamp.com, shortly after the taping. “As just some kid in New Jersey making records, I bet he never imagined in his wildest dreams that he’d someday be honored in this fashion. I’m glad to have been there to acknowledge the influence he’s had on all of us.”

“Born in the USA” is, of course, one of the songs that transformed Springsteen from a mere rock star into a household name in the mid-’80s. It was the third of his seven singles from his 1984 Born in the USA album, and like the rest of them, it was a Top 10 hit.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.

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