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The Man vs. the Boss

American politicians keep on fighting over Bruce Springsteen lyrics. A memoir by Tom DeLay, the controversial former Republican whip, is about to be released under the title No Retreat, No Surrender. As the ABC News website reports, that title appears to be borrowed from Bruce Springsteen’s song “No Surrender” – which John Kerry used to rally the Democrat troops during his 2004 presidential campaign.

A DeLay spokesperson claims that the former Congressman was inspired by a Spartan rallying cry, not by the Boss (and as luck would have it, apparently “no retreat, no surrender” is bellowed at some point in the new Spartariffic movie 300). The article notes that Jean-Claude van Damme also appeared in a 1986 action film called No Retreat, No Surrender, though strangely DeLay isn’t claiming that as an influence.

Nor is DeLay’s book the first or most egregious case of Springsteen appropriation. Ronald Reagan famously invoked the then-current “Born in the U.S.A.” during the 1984 presidential campaign – an odd choice, since the song’s about an embittered Vietnam vet who feels betrayed by his country.

In any case, Quillblog’s favourite bit in the ABC News article is this one:

The refrain of the song is, according to Springsteen’s website, “No retreat No surrender,” just like DeLay’s book. It should be noted, however that there is some debate on the Internet over whether Springsteen utters a “believe me” or a “baby” between the phrases “no retreat” and “no surrender.”

“Baby.” Definitely “baby.”