Best Covers of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ Tracks to Celebrate the Album’s 40th Anniversary

Born in the USA is a classic American album by an all-American dude. Bruce Springsteen released this album in 1984, and it turned 40 this year, so what better way to celebrate the milestone than to pick out all the great covers of Born in the USA tracks? Here is a list of great covers from the often-covered title track and “I’m On Fire,” to lesser-covered songs like “No Surrender” or “Downbound Train.”

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[RELATED: Ranking Bruce Springsteen’s 5 Best Album-Openers]

Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA Turns 40

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Born in the USA”

Starting out with a classic, this cover of “Born in the USA” was from an album titled A MusiCares Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, which was a concert held in LA in 2013 that was subsequently released as a DVD and CD. Neil Young took lead on the opening track, showcasing his strong wailing vocals which have made him famous. The rollicking tune took on a new life with this cover, as the band Crazy Horse provided the raucous instrumentation as Neil Young sang the repeating chorus in his signature style.

Chromatics – “I’m On Fire”

Chromatics have done some interesting takes on other classic songs like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” However, it’s their version of “I’m On Fire” that really stands out. Reimagined in their lo-fi, chilled out style with light cymbal, 80s synth, and plucky guitar backing drifting, eerie vocals, this version is chilling but also calming. It calls to mind the strange, singular Twin Peaks soundtrack, composed by Angelo Badalamenti. If anything, it’s a unique take on a classic song.

Jill Johnson – “No Surrender”

Jill Johnson is a powerful vocalist whose voice fits perfectly around a Springsteen song. Originally from Sweden, Johnson is a country and rock singer who added the cover to her 2009 album Music Row II, which included many other classic covers. Her voice is strong and warm, and she’s definitively rock and roll. Perfect for covering “No Surrender.”

Thea Gilmore – “Cover Me”

Thea Gilmore included her cover of “Cover Me” on the 2004 album From the Gutter, in which she gave it a moody, Fiona Apple-like twist. Gilmore’s mid-range, airy vocals turn the song into everything an angry It-girl wanted in the early 2000s. It’s Apple, it’s angsty Norah Jones, and it’s also singularly Thea Gilmore. She took a rock and roll song and turned it completely on its head, giving it shades of “Between the Bars” by Madeline Peyroux. Along with Chromatics’ cover, this is one of the most transformed, giving the song totally new life.

The Smithereens – “Downbound Train”

Released in 2004, The Smithereens covered “Downbown Train” for an album of covers. For this song, they kept the rock and roll bones, but it’s lighter, airier, and has more of an indie-rock feel to it. It’s indicative of indie-rock in the early 2000s—steady drums but with a little flair at the end of a phrase, light-sounding guitar, and higher-register vocals. The Smithereens definitely did the song justice, taking it from the 80s rock-heavy era into the softer 2000s.

Eddie Vedder – “Bobby Jean”

In 2016, Eddie Vedder performed “Bobby Jean” at a show with Bruce Springsteen as a surprise, and his take on the song lives on as one of the best. However, at one point in time, he performed the song live on his own. Vedder slowed the song down considerably, using his signature grunge vocals to bring out the emotion. He turns it into a lament for the loss of a great love or friendship, as the meaning behind the song has always been somewhat ambiguous. Nevertheless, Vedder manages to pull heartbreaking emotions out of this song with his signature sound and creative choices.

Andra Day – “Glory Days”

For the movie Cars 3, Andra Day covered the classic song “Glory Days.” She added more of a soulful rock and roll twist to it, pulling the blues from seemingly nowhere but fitting the style around the lyrics perfectly. Her rendition is also quite a transformation, but Day’s growly, textured, solid vocals work well with a Bruce Springsteen track.

Quaker City Night Hawks – “Darlington County”

For the 2014 tribute album Dead Man’s Town, Quaker City Night Hawks put a folksy rock spin on “Darlington County.” It’s a little more country-folk than Springsteen usually goes, but it still fits well. The vocals are loose and easy while the melody stays fun and light, which lends itself to a good Springsteen cover. Also, there’s a saxophone solo in the middle, and you can’t go wrong with a little sax.

Lucy Dacus – “Dancing in the Dark”

Lucy Dacus takes “Dancing in the Dark” and gives it her own style while still staying surprisingly true to the original. Her rendition is a breath of fresh indie air, her vocals and instrumental stylings working well with the original lyrics. It’s a transformation, but one that isn’t so far off from the mark.

Vampire Weekend – “I’m Goin’ Down”

And now for something completely different, Vampire Weekend recorded a cover of “I’m Goin’ Down” in their signature piano-forward style. This is yet another transformation but in a similar vein to Lucy Dacus’ that stays surprisingly true to the source material. While the original starts out with a sort of twangy guitar, Vampire Weekend starts out with piano instead. It’s an interesting take, but one that makes the cover stand out.

Emmylou Harris – “My Hometown”

For the MusiCares tribute concert, Emmylou Harris took “My Hometown” for a spin. Her signature warbling vocals elevated her rendition, giving it a folksy essence. The original version is already one of Bruce Springsteen’s calmer songs, and Harris’ folksiness aided her in covering the ballad.

Blitzen Trapper – “Working on the Highway”

Again for Dead Man’s Town, Blitzen Trapper covered “Working on the Highway.” Blitzen Trapper were huge in the mid-2000s for their folksy sentimentality and interesting vocal stylings. Their later work, including this cover, is a little more Americana, a little more groovy, but still unique.

Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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