Ronald Reagan Rock
Hammonton, New Jersey
On the afternoon on September 19, 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke before an enthusiastic crowd in downtown Hammonton, New Jersey. The speech was mostly political boilerplate, but it did contain one memorable passage. "America's future," Reagan said, "rests in the message of hope in songs of a man so many young Americans admire, New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen."
People even vaguely familiar with the songs of Bruce Springsteen know that they rarely contain messages of hope for America's future. But Reagan was oblivious. His reelection campaign was using -- without permission -- "Born in the U.S.A." as its theme song (the album was #1 in the country at the time) because they'd evidently only listened to its rousing chorus and not to the rest of the lyrics, which are about a bitter, jobless Vietnam vet (When Springsteen found out, he made Reagan stop using the song).
The people of Hammonton were too polite to point out Reagan's mistake. He was swept back into office for four more years, and a plaque on a rock was placed on the spot where The Gipper had stood, "to commemorate this historic event." It does not mention Springsteen.