New fan-made documentary explores Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ triumph

springsteen born in the usa documentary


Bruce Springsteen, in an outtake from the “Born in the USA” cover photo session.

Born in the USA changed my life, gave me my largest audience, forced me to think harder about the way I presented my music and set me briefly at the center of the pop world,” Bruce Springsteen wrote in his 2016 autobiography “Born to Run.” “The aftermath of the Born in the USA tour was a strange time. It was the peak of something. I would never be here, this high, in the mainstream pop firmament again.”

Filmmaker Dennis Laverty takes a deep, deep look at this unique era in Springsteen’s career in his new seven-hour documentary, “The Complete Story of Born in the USA Album and World Tour,” which is available for free in two parts on Vimeo, and is embedded below as well. The film is being released today because it is the 37th anniversary of the release of Born in the USA, on June 4, 1984.

Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing in the Dark” video.

Over the last five years, Laverty has carved out a niche for himself with documentaries on subjects such as the Asbury Jukes’ early years, Elvis Presley’s influence on Springsteen, and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band. He works independently from the artists, and does not release the films commercially. He uses previously available but often rare film and video footage, photos, newspaper clips and posters, drawing on his own and other fans’ collections.

It’s hard to imagine any Springsteen fan not finding much in the new film that he or she has never seen before.

The film is less about the making of the album than the tour that followed, and everything else that happened in Springsteen’s world during this time period (basically the summer of ’84 to late ’85): Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa joining the E Street Band … the group playing stadiums for the first time … Springsteen’s embrace of MTV, and MTV’s embrace of him … his marriage to Julianne Phillips … his participation in the “We Are the World” and “Sun City” charity singles … him becoming richer than he ever dreamed of becoming, and donating to local food banks and other causes at each tour stop.

Springsteen’s mention above of being “at the center of the pop world” is not an exaggeration. You can’t overstate how huge a star Springsteen was at this moment, not just releasing hit singles and instantly selling out stadiums all over the world, but attaining almost mythical status as the flag-bearer for “real” rock ‘n’ roll. The performance clips in Laverty’s film are a revelation, showing Springsteen and the band, encouraged by their fans’ adoration — as well as their own mastery of their craft and their magical interband chemistry — just bursting with energy and personality.

Bruce Springsteen was Rolling Stone’s 1985 Artist of the Year.

Over the film’s seven hours, Laverty is able to include not just the signature Born in the USA songs, but lesser known material from this tour, including “Stand On It,” “Man At the Top,” “Sugarland,” “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart” and an absolutely ferocious “Detroit Medley” (seguing into the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Travelin’ Band”).

Springsteen was such big news in these days that when he came to town, local TV stations would do segments about Brucemania. There are a lot of these segments in Laverty’s film, full of fans being interviewed in the parking lot, or on line as they wait for tickets.

Laverty says in an email that he has been working on the third part of his series of films on the Asbury Jukes “but got inspired by Springsteen’s last two albums,” which “took me down memory lane to when I first saw him live in August 1984 at the Meadowlands. … I also was transferring my old VHS tapes and found an unedited MTV interview with Mark Goodman from 1984 (quality not perfect), but you get to hear Bruce give complete thoughts to questions. MTV used parts of the interview for its specials but did not play full question and answers. I also had in my collection an Entertainment Tonight unedited interview. Both of these are not on YouTube.”

He says an old friend, Stephen Bumball, provided a lot of the material. Bumball receives “special thanks” in the film, which is dedicated to the memory of his late wife Kathleen.

Here are the film’s two parts. Enjoy!

The Complete Story of Born in the USA Album and World Tour Part 1 from Dennis P Laverty on Vimeo.

The Complete Story of Born in the USA Album and World Tour Part 2 from Dennis P Laverty on Vimeo.


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1 comment

Peter June 26, 2022 - 6:17 pm

Yet the 1988 Tunnek of Love express tour was an even bigger Financial sucess. Of course coming in the heels of Born in the USA. He made 50 million USD in 67 concerts on the Tunnel of love Esxpress tour in 5 months time. Born in the USA tour grossed 85 million USD in 156 concerts .
That is he made 750 USD in average in the Tunnel of love Express Tour. On the Born in the USA tour he made 544 000 USD in General. He sold a lot more Merchandize on the Tunnel of love express tour to double the price of the Born in the USA tour. A t short for example cost 6 USD on the Born in the USA tour on the tunnel of love ecoress tour the t shirt cost 12 USD. And there were much more different Merchandize on the Tunnel of love Express tour. On the Born in the USA tour there was the t shirt and the tour book. On the tunnel of love express tour there were t shirts of many different types a tour book double the price fron the Born in the USA tour, jackets, scarfs, rings, pins to put on your t shirt, binoculars for short people, tour posters, and real exclusive jackets, a doll of Bruce and hundreds of more Merchandize things.
The ticket prices were 6 USD more in 1988 than in 1985. And finally the big one, on the Tunnel of love Express tour Bruce received 95 % of all ticket sales. In 1985 he only received 60 %. So for so Little workbThe Tunnel of love Express tour was a far more finsnickare sucess than the Born in the USA tour. He also got to play the biggest stadiums he had ever played on the Tunnel of Love Express tour. In East Berlin 500 000 people saw Bruce Springsteen. The final stop of the tour was in the biggest football stadium in Europe Camp Nou. 90 000 people attended. There were supposed to be 2 concerts at Wembley in London But a Mike Tyson fight Made that impossible in Bruces tour schedule. So instead of letten the usual 72 000 people in Bruce had 70 000 people at Wembley 1985, in 1988 because of the second concert not happening They cramed 80 000 people into Wembley Stadium. In Paris at the Hippodrome de Vincent 80 000 people saw Bruce play. There were lots more 60 000 to 70 000 stadiums on the Tunnel of Love express tour. There was supposed to be 4 concerts in Italy. But there was a paper strike. And the promotor got nervous if he could not get commercial out to the people and becsuse of Bruces enormous guarantee fee he was afraid to Loose money. But Italians ususally buy tickets on the day of the concert or the day before. So in Turin They crammed in 65 000 people instead of the planed 58 000 people. The same amount that saw him in Milan 1985. The Slbum that should be a lowkey album backfired. Sales were 9 million records for an almost accoustic album. And there were 3 big hit singles from the slbum somethibg never heard of before. Also he made the record in his home studio almost by himself instead of hire an expensive studio and pay the Estreet band for thousands hours of sorj as he did on the Born in the USA slbum.
He got extremely reach fron the Tunnel of love album and tour. In 1987 he made 56 million USD, in 198& he made 61 million USD and in 1989 Where the only thing he did was to release the 1978-1988 video he made 40 million USD. So in 3 years time from 1987 to 1989 he made 157 million USD. Not bad for a low key album and a 5 month tour. Off course sales of other albums helped as well. But thr big sales came from tunnel of love and the big royalty checks came from his 3 Tunnel of love singles. So there. You have it regarding Tunnel of love and its tour.


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