Bad songs on great albums

To say that Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. is a great album is an understatement. It is the 85 in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums of all time, and was the sixth best album produced in the 1980s (also Rolling Stone). It had seven top 10 singles.

Obviously it’s a great album and you could host a great debate in deciding its top musical moment. However, we’re looking in the opposite direction.

What’s the worst song on Born in the U.S.A.?

The top 10 singles are automatically out of the argument (my rules … even if the song sounds old and cliche now, it was considered great at one time and, therefore, is safe from “Worst Song” status. “Glory Days,” I’m looking at you …). Taking out the top 10 singles, we’re left with five:

  • “Darlington County”
  • “Working on the Highway”
  • “Downbound Train”
  • “No Surrender”
  • “Bobby Jean”

Of those five, two quickly emerge as relatively stinko: “Working on the Highway” and “Downbound Train.” Here’s my thinking: “Working on the Highway,” with its Bo Diddley-esque beat seems a little out of place on this album. It’s bouncy, sure, but it doesn’t sound like anything else. “Downbound Train,” seems a little dirge-y, especially the vocals; however, the “train” theme fits with the beat of the following song on the album, “I’m on Fire.”

Int he final analysis, though, a fun, out-of-place song beats a dirge nine times out of 10. Therefore, “Downbound Train” is the worst song on Born in the U.S.A.

Both songs continue to be in the Boss’ repertoire (see videos below), so he obviously still sees their relevance.


What about you? What’s the worst song on Born in the U.S.A.?



One thought on “Bad songs on great albums

  1. Man, I love “Working On The Highway”. But I like rockabilly. True it does sound out of place on the album, but I’m a Tom Waits fan….so I’m used to songs sounding out of place on albums. Haha. My favorite is “I’m On Fire”. I’d have to say the worst for me would be “Darlington County”. Too many “sha na na sha la la la la la’s” !!! I sometimes skip that track when I listen to the album.

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