Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Lost Messages


Bruce Springsteen had a string of social-minded hits that put him in the category once owned by Dylan. The album Born In The U.S.A. was particularly interesting not just because it was a huge seller generated by a lot of radio tracks, but because of how it was misunderstood. Apparently President Reagan thought it was a tribute to patriotic conservatives, which turned out to be counter to reality. The statements throughout the album tended to show a cynical view of parties who benefit from war. But the album was too broad and multi-dimensional to be summed up with one theme. "Dancing In The Dark" fell back on romance, but it was still one of the most well-crafted pop songs of its time. The lyrics even rambled self-consciously a little bit. In 1985 Springsteen did a cover of the Edwin Starr hit "War" and clarified his position.

The protest movement of the sixties had not completely died in the eighties because there were constant Vietnam reminder songs such as "Born In The U.S.A." by Springsteen, "Still In Saigon" by Charlie Daniels Band, "Walking On A Thin Line" by Huey Lewis & The News and the hypnotic techno hit "19" by Paul Hardcastle. The song talked about how "the average age of the combat soldier" is 19. The recording sounded like a news program with war sound effects and soundbites from witnesses to battle. The song resolved by stating that many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and continued to be haunted by war in their dark jungle memories. It was pretty heavy for pop radio.

Continue to "War of the Senses"