Records That Made History

Bruce Springsteen – The River

todayMarch 23, 2024 12

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The River is the fifth studio album by Bruce Springsteen and was released on October 17, 1980 by Columbia Records. This double album was produced by Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen and E-Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt. The album was Springsteen’s first to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spent four weeks at the top of the chart. The song “The River” was nominated for Best Performance by a Song at the 1982 Grammy Awards.

The River’s origins lie back in earlier parts of Springsteen’s career. “Independence Day”, “Point Blank”, “The Ties That Bind”, “Ramrod”, and “Sherry Darling” were holdovers from his previous album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, and were featured on the 1978 tour.

Springsteen originally wanted the album to be a single titled The Ties That Bind and released it as such in late 1979 with 10 tracks. He then added darker musical material after writing the title track. Indeed, The River became known for its mix of the light next to the heavy.

On November 8, 2009, in concert, Bruce Springsteen spoke about the album, saying, “The River was a gateway record for a lot of my future compositions. It was an album that came after Darkness On The Edge Of Town and its song title track is a song I wrote for my brother-in-law and my sister. My brother-in-law was in construction, he lost his job and so he had to fight really hard back in the late 70s, like a lot of people do today.”

In a contemporary review for Melody Maker, Paolo Hewitt compares listening to The River to taking a journey into the heart of rock ‘n’ roll like never before. It is a walk through all the streets, all the people and all the souls that rock has ever visited, causing excitement, tears and love. The album was voted the second best album of 1980 in Pazz & Jop, an annual nationwide poll of American critics, published by the Village Voice. Dave Marsh, in The New Rolling Stone Record Guide of 1983, called The River Springsteen’s most mature work and arguably his most consistent.

According to Jon Pareles of the New York Times, The River was the beginning of 1980s rock. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 253 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

“Hungry Heart”, which I select, was Springsteen’s first US pop single, reaching No. 5. Springsteen had originally written it for the Ramones, but their manager and producer, Jon Landau, persuaded to keep it to himself.


A1. The Ties That Bind 3:33
A2. Sherry Darling 4:02
A3. Jackson Cage 3:04
A4. Two Hearts 2:42
A5. Independence Day 4:46
B1. Hungry Heart 3:19
B2. Out In The Street 4:17
B3. Crush On You 3:10
B4. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) 2:36
B5. I Wanna Marry You 3:26
B6. The River 4:59
C1. Point Blank 6:05
C2. Cadillac Ranch 3:02
C3. I’m A Rocker 3:34
C4. Fade Away 4:40
C5. Stolen Car 3:53
D1. Ramrod 4:04
D2. The Price You Pay 5:27
D3. Drive All Night 8:26
D4. Wreck On The Highway 3:53

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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