Tonight, Danny and I are preparing for our concert experience this Friday night with the man known as “The Boss”.

Bruce Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey.  Early in his career, Springsteen struggled to find that initial success that all musicians crave. His first record deal, a 1972 agreement with Columbia Records, allowed him into the professional studio, where he brought many of his friends he had met early in his career along with him to record. This was essentially the formation of the E Street Band (although the band would not get its iconic name for a few more years).  Together, Springsteen and his band recorded their first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle within the same year of 1973.

Massive success found the group in the coming years, as four albums were released between 1973 and 1978.  In 1980, The River was added to Springsteen’s already growing discography.  The album was released on October 17, 1980, and was Springsteen’s first double album.  The initial title for the album was The Ties that Bind, but that was before Springsteen had written the title song of The River.  After writing “The River”, he decided to add “darker material”, which happened to be a few leftover songs that did not make it onto his previous album, Darkness on the Edge of Town.  These leftover songs included “Sherry Darling”, “Independence Day”, “Point Blank”, “Ramrod”, and even “The Ties that Bind”.  Springsteen, talking about the album in 2009, says

“The River was a record that was sort of the gateway to a lot of my future writing. It was a record we made after Darkness on the Edge of Town. It was a record made during a recession—hard times in the States. Its title song is a song I wrote for my brother-in-law and sister. My brother-in-law was in the construction industry, lost his job and had to struggle very hard back in the late 70s, like so many people are doing today. It was a record where I first started to tackle men and women and families and marriage. There were certain songs on it that led to complete records later on: ‘The River’ sort of went to the writing on Nebraska, ‘Stolen Car’ went to the writing on Tunnel of Love. Originally it was a single record. I handed it in with just one record and I took it back because I didn’t feel it was big enough. I wanted to capture the themes I had been writing about on Darkness. I wanted to keep those characters with me and at the same time added music that made our live shows so much fun and joy for our audience. So in the end, we’re gonna take you down to The River tonight.”

The River Track list

Side One

  1. The Ties that Bind (3:34)
  2. Sherry Darling (4:03)
  3. Jackson Cage (3:04)
  4. Two Hearts (2:45)
  5. Independence Day (4:50)

Side Two

  1. Hungry Heart (3:19)
  2. Out in the Street (4:17)
  3. Crush on You (3:10)
  4. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) (2:37)
  5. I Wanna Marry You (3:30)
  6. The River (5:01)

Side Three

  1. Point Blank (6:06)
  2. Cadillac Ranch (3:03)
  3. I’m a Rocker (3:36)
  4. Fade Away (4:46)
  5. Stolen Car (3:54)

Side Four

  1. Ramrod (4:05)
  2. The Price You Pay (5:29)
  3. Drive All Night (8:33)
  4. Wreck on the Highway (3:54)

 

The E Street Band 

Roy Bittan- Piano, organ, background vocals

Clarence Clemons- Saxophone, percussion, background vocals

Danny Federici- Organ

Bruce Springsteen- Vocals, Electric 6 and 12 string guitars, harmonica, piano

Gary Tallent- Bass

Steve Van Zandt- Acoustic and electric guitars, harmony vocals, background vocals

Max Weinberg- Drums

 

Thoughts…

Our Quick Pick 5 from the album…

  1. Hungry Heart
  2. Out in the Street
  3. The River
  4. Independence Day
  5. The Price You Pay

 

Our favorite songs on the album are “Hungry Heart”(Dan’s) and “Out in the Street” (Bob’s)

This album has such a great mixture of speedy rock numbers and laid back rock ballads that it really feels like a complete experience listening to it from beginning to end. One of our favorite aspects of the E Street Band has always been its heavy use of the saxophone, and this album has no shortage of that. Clemons delivers solo after solo of unbelievable sax playing, solidifying the instrument forever in rock music. Springsteen has said that he wanted this album to feel like you were listening to a life, meaning he wanted it to have all the ups and downs that one experiences in life. When you listen to it straight through, that feeling really does come across with all the highs and lows that you experience during its hour and twenty-five minute run time.

 

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The original album cover
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The Ties the Bind: The River Collection (2015)
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Springsteen in the studio
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Springsteen (left of mic), Steve Van Zandt (right of mic), and Max Weinberg (drums)

 

 

 

 

 

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