Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cold Bowl Of Chili Theory On The Boss

Here's one I'd never heard before. Some "dude" commenting under the name "Cold Bowl of Chili" over on Thasher's Wheat's "Neil Young News" blog has a theory that Mr. Springsteen is pissing on the American Flag on the cover photo of BORN IN THE U.S.A.

Interesting theory, and it's one I'd never heard in the 20+ years that the album has existed. Now, I'll go on record (again) right here that I'm not a big fan of "The Boss". His stuff never really grabbed me. I'm not sure why.

Back to the theory in question, I was going to dismiss it out of hand when I first read it. However, in my attempt to be an open-minded individual (quit laughing!!!), I figured I'd at least look at the album, which I've never owned. Of course, I'd seen it many times before, as it was one of the biggest sellers of the entire decade of the 1980s. I suppose it's the apparent placement of the right hand that leaves anything open to question. Hmmmmm.

I suppose it's a valid interpretation. Paranoid, perhaps, and slightly delusional, maybe, but it is still possible. I'd say if that's truly what Bruce was going for, it's too bad he let his leg block the evidence, instead of leaving the wet spot in the open to see, a la WHO'S NEXT on that concrete block or whatever it was. Why keep it subtle? If you're going to flag-piss, at least have the balls to be open about it. Any thoughts?


Blogger rabidt said...

I've heard the flag pissing theory before, and I have to say I find it pretty compelling (see below for evidence). And, I kind of like the idea of it being ambiguous. There was likely a third-rate hardcore band with the explicit image of the band pissing or shitting on the flag on the cover of their album that same year, anyway.

Ok, here's the evidence that I feel supports the pissing:

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man


Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"


I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Now, that's the title track, and if the cover is supposed to evoke the character of such a title, I would think that it's not a stretch to imagine the protagonist of this song pissing on the flag.

What is a stretch is how this song ever got presented or accepted as a pro-USA song. I wondered that at the time this came out - the intent of the song seemed clear enough to a 13 year-old, or whatever I was.

11:32 AM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Cold Bowl of Chili said...

I'm honored. I had never heard of the theory before, I "thought" I was the only one. I keep inventing what already has been invented-like a handle for the toilet seat so you don't put your fingers in Pubes and Piss lifting it. It's been done, 1897, oh well.


12:11 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Totally agreed on the lyrics to the song "Born In The U.S.A."

I think it just proves that the chorus is as close as most people come to listening to the words of a song.

Still, I don't remember hearing the flag-pissing theory before. Having seen the album cover 100s of times, but always at a glance, I guess I just never noticed the postioning of his right arm. Interesting.

6:26 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

You owe it to youself to buy "Greetings From Asbury Park" and experience the pure Bruce Springsteen before his "Born To Run" conversion. Especially listen to the song "Lost In The Flood" and hear why he was called the next coming of Dylan (kiss of death) by the critics.

His cult of personality in the late seventies and early eighties was well deserved due to his incredible live shows.

"Born In The USA" is, in my humble opinion, his most commercially sucessful album and the one that is least true to his muse.

7:39 AM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger GD said...

You guys may be onto something here. This is the most interesting thing I have read all day.

1:25 PM, May 19, 2006  

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