This is a bitter anthem crafted for a political moment that, for progressives like Springsteen, demands cruel clarity. The way its hook — the seeming don't-tread-on-me sentiment of the title line — plays against other lines like "I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone/The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone" or "We yelled 'help' but the cavalry stayed home" is pure Boss. Just as he did on "Born In the U.S.A.," "Glory Days" and even 2009's beautiful "Girls In Their Summer Clothes," Springsteen brings out big emotions and then demands we drop the delusions that often accompany them. When he delivers an old line like "from sea to shining sea," his patriotic stance is a spit back in the face of power — a demand that, in hearing such America-first language fresh, we admit that it's hollow unless it serves a real populist vision.
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