Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Voice of AmericaReleased: 1984
The message of this song is that despite the fact Steven Van Zandt (Little Steven) opposes Reagan's Republicans, it does not make him disloyal and he's still a patriot. He recalled to Mojo magazine in 2017:
"It was one of the most difficult songs I've ever written, because I knew my political stuff was gonna be very critical of the American government, and I wanted to make it clear that I was being critical from a patriotic point of view: (I'm) very proud of the ideals that our founding fathers had in mind when I created the country, but the fact is (the US is) still very much a work in progress, and very often goes off the rails. In those instances, it's up to the true patriots to say, Wait a minute, the government isn't always right, we need to be vigilant about keeping our ideals intact. So I knew it was the most important song I was ever gonna write, and I stared at that title for at least a year - I just couldn't work I just couldn't figure out how to make it work, but finally I did
When you're trying to write songs that are very simple, with no poetry or metaphor to hide behind, you have to find a way to do that without being obnoxious or boring or cornball... Reggae helped!"
Jackson Browne covered the song on his 1989 World in Motion album and he also frequently performed it in his concerts. In 2004, Browne and Van Zandt sang the song together during the last of the Vote for Change shows.
Pearl Jam also have played the song in concerts. Their version can be heard on the bootleg 1998-09-19: Constitution Hall, Washington, DC, USA.