The Story Behind Bruce Springsteen's Iconic 'Born In The U.S.A.' Album Cover

A fascinating look at the true story behind Springsteen's most famous album cover.

June 4, 2019

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruff Foundation)


Born In The U.S.A. is Bruce Springsteen's commercially successful records and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. The album celebrated the 35th anniversary of its release on June 4th and to this date is one of the greatest albums of all time.

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For all the fanfare surrounding the record, the now iconic album cover was unintentional.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz was tasked with photographing Springsteen for the album cover. The patriotic theme was something Springsteen wanted to include as it had been a topic of his writing in years prior. In a 1984 interview with Rolling Stone, Springsteen said, "we had the flag on the cover because the first song was called “Born in the U.S.A.,” and the theme of the record kind of follows from the themes I’ve been writing about for at least the last six or seven years." 

What ended up on the album cover was far from what Springsteen originally envisioned. "That was unintentional," Springsteen said of the photo of his rear end with a baseball cap tucked into it.

He added,"we took a lot of different types of pictures, and in the end, the picture of my ass looked better, than the picture of my face, so that’s what went on the cover. I didn’t have any secret message. I don’t do that very much."

At the time, Springsteen recognized that his use of the flag on the album cover could be co-opted by politicians to assign a different meaning. "The flag is a powerful image, and when you set that stuff loose, you don’t know what’s gonna be done with it," he said.