Who’s the Boss? – The River

Who's The Boss?
Hi Everybody! The long wait is finally over. Time for the newest installment of “Who’s the Boss?” I can’t believe that it’s been almost 4 months since the last one – Darkness on the Edge of Town. Today, we’ll take a listen to Springsteen’s follow-up album, The River. If you are new, or missed the previous “Who’s the Boss?” articles, you can go ahead and see what this is all about.

I had heard of The River before, but I had no idea that it was a double-album. Let’s go check it out.


Originally, Bruce Springsteen’s album, The River, was to be released in 1979 as a single album called The Ties That Bind. But, after writing the song, “The River”, Springsteen wanted to add even more darker material to the album. The album was released on October 17, 1980. I did not read up on any information on the album before I started listening to it. So, I was not expecting the amount of dark material on the album. There are many fun rock songs on the album, then takes a dark turn. According to Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts – The Definitive Biography, 1972-2003, it was intentional to have a combination of fun and dark songs: “Rock and roll has always been this joy, this certain happiness that is in its way the most beautiful thing in life. But rock is also about hardness and coldness and being alone … I finally got to the place where I realized life had paradoxes, a lot of them, and you’ve got to live with them.”

Needless to say, this is a very interesting album. As always, you can click on the song title to listen to the song on YouTube.

Side one

1. “The Ties That Bind”

Great start to the album. It’s a good, rockin’ song. No matter how down you are, and how much you want to get away, and be by yourself, you will always have the ties that bind you to your friends, family and community.

 

2. “Sherry Darling”

This is a fun, upbeat song.

 

3. “Jackson Cage”

I’m already impressed with this album so far. This is another rockin’ song. It has that classic Bruce sound, with all instruments being heard, and some intense Bruce vocals.

4. “Two Hearts”

This is quickly becoming my favorite Springsteen studio album so far. This is another song saying that you shouldn’t be alone. This leads us to….

5. “Independence Day”

Time to slow things down a bit, which means Emo Bruce is in the house! It’s lucky for us that he had music as an outlet for his daddy issues. In this song, Bruce has come to the realization that he and his father will never get along, so he’s going out on his own. This is a sad yet beautiful song. I’m really taking to these storytelling songs.

Side two

1. “Hungry Heart”

Ah, a very familiar song. I always liked this song. I first discovered Bruce Springsteen from his Born in the USA album. When the songs from that album got overplayed, this was a nice alternative for me.

2. “Out in the Street”

I’m liking this song. It has the same type of beat as “Hungry Heart” – not a ballad, but not a flat-out rocker. The piano is well done. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a song that features a sax solo by the legendary Clarence Clemons.

3. “Crush on You”

Another great rockin’ song. I can totally see this one getting stuck in my head. Great guitar and drums in this song.

4. “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)”

Not to be confused with the Poison song I love (Look But You Can’t Touch), this is yet another really fun, rockin’s song.

5. “I Wanna Marry You”

This kind of starts off sounding like a Spanish type of song. This is a really nice ballad. While I am beginning to warm up to emo-Bruce, it is nice to hear him singing a slow song that doesn’t make you want to hang yourself.

6. “The River”

We have arrived at the title track. This is another storytelling song, which means emo-Bruce is back. He knocked up Mary just after high school, and they have to get married, and begin their real life. This doesn’t sound like the same couple from the earlier song, “I Wanna Marry You.” This wedding here sounds depressing:

We went down to the courthouse
and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

And it just gets worse from there.

Side three

1. “Point Blank”

This is another dark, storytelling song. And just like several of the dark songs I have heard so far, this one is about growing up too fast, and not having your dreams realized.

I was gonna be your Romeo you were gonna be my Juliet
These days you don’t wait on Romeo’s
You wait on that welfare check

2. “Cadillac Ranch”

Alright! Now we are back to some upbeat rock! I remember this song from the Live 1975-85 album. It is a great live song, but I am also loving this studio version.

3. “I’m a Rocker”

Awesome! This song lives up to its name!

4. “Fade Away”

OK, this is the total opposite of the last song. You know it’s not good when the song starts with these lyrics:

Well now you say you’ve found another man who does things to you that I can’t
And that no matter what I do it’s all over now
between me and you girl

5. “Stolen Car”

Well this song starts off more promising:

I met a little girl and I settled down
In a little house out on the edge of town
We got married, and swore we’d never part

Oh no, but wait…here is the next line:

Then little by little we drifted from each other’s hearts

Just shoot me already!

Side four

1. “Ramrod”

Alright! We’re pulled out of the doldrums! This is a fun rockin’ song. Let me take this in. I see the title of the next song, so I’m sure this high won’t last too long.

2. “The Price You Pay”

Kurt Cobain and the whole grunge movement ain’t got nothin’ on Bruce, man! All I have to say about this song is:

Now they’d come so far and they’d waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of the day

3. “Drive All Night”

I can’t believe how depressing this second album is. At least this is a love song.

4. “Wreck on the Highway”

Will we close out the album with a fun rockin’ song, leaving us wanting more, or will we end with emo-Bruce. Here’s a hint:

An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway

As depressing as these songs are, I really enjoy the storytelling.

 


Fun Facts

Fun Facts. Woo-ooo-ooo. Say it proud and Geek Out Loud, it’s fun facts

– “Hungry Heart” was Springsteen’s first U.S. pop singles chart top ten hit single, reaching number five. When Bruce wrote the song, it was actually intended to be for The Ramones. However, manager/producer Jon Landau convinced Springsteen to keep the song for himself.

– According to BruceSpringsteen.net, it was announced on October 16, 2015 that Springsteen will celebrate the 35th anniversary of The River by releasing the long awaited box set titled The Ties That Bind: The River Collection on December 4, 2015. It will contain 52 tracks on 4 CDs with a wealth of unreleased material along with 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs or 2 Blu-Ray discs.

Final Thoughts

Even though it may seem like I was not enjoying the dark songs, I really loved this album! This may even be my favorite Springsteen album so far. The upbeat songs just flat-out rock, and the dark songs tell good, albeit depressing stories. It’s good to have a combination of the different styles. And Springsteen did this masterfully.

The next album will be one that most of us are familiar with. I’m sure you can pretty much guess what it is. There are some songs on it that are new for me, so I am looking forward to it. And it won’t take as long to post about it.

Let me know what you think of The River,and if you have any memories from it.

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