Bruce Springsteen - "Born in the U.S.A."

QUESTION:  Which of the following instruments does Bruce Springsteen NOT play?
A)  Guitar
B)  Mandolin
C)  Banjo
D)  Piano
ANSWER BELOW

New Jersey is, alas, much maligned.  Caught between Philadelphia and New York City, the tiny but densely populated state has no great city to call its own and, with its industrial north and agricultural south, receives little credit for its substantial contributions to the great United States. Maybe that's why so many residents take pride in being the home of Bruce Springsteen.  Along with Frank Sinatra and Jon Bon Jovi, Springsteen is easily one of the most famous and admired of New Jersey's boys (and this may be the only time you will ever see Sinatra and Bon Jovi mentioned in the same sentence!).  Born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1949 to a modest family, he had little interest in academics and rarely excelled at them.  His passion was, of course, music.  And it still is.

Of the generation sent to Vietnam, Springsteen avoided the draft due to erratic behavior. Instead, he played in small bands and made sure everyone got paid, thus earning the nickname "The Boss."  Being somewhat anti-establishment, he did not see the name as a compliment and took a while to accept it.  Springsteen's poetic style of rock 'n roll earned him the admiration of devoted fans through the sixties and seventies, but breaking onto the national scene proved challenging for him until the album we are honoring today - 1984's Born in the U.S.A. 

Born in the U.S.A. has sold well over thirty million copies since its original release, garnered seven hit songs, and made Bruce Springsteen a household name.  The title track was written as a criticism of the way Springsteen felt veterans of the Vietnam War were treated since their return stateside; however, the meaning was misinterpreted by many who instead perceived it to be a patriotic anthem.  Ironically, it was used during the 1984 presidential elections by Ronald Reagan, who encouraged his supporters to embrace its pro-American message.  Even more popular was the second track released from the album - "Dancing in the Dark."  The music video of the song introduced to the world a young actress named Courteney Cox who would go on to great fame in Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and a television sitcom called Friends.

Springsteen has had his ups and downs since Born in the U.S.A., but, like his music or not, he remains an influential force in both music and in the perception of New Jersey.

ANSWER:  C)  Banjo.  At least not publicly.