Joel began work on the album — on which two of his major influences (Ray Charles and Steve Winwood) made guest appearances — in 1985. Charles sang a duet with Joel on the song "Baby Grand", and Winwood played Hammond organ on the song "Getting Closer". Other notable musicians who made guest appearances on the album include jazz musicians Ron Carter and Michael Brecker, who both played on the jazzy track "Big Man on Mulberry Street."
The album also had some New wave influences. For instance, the first song, "Running on Ice," is heavily influenced by the music of The Police, and the final song recorded for the album, "Code of Silence," featured Cyndi Lauper who contributed backing vocals and received co-writing credit for the lyrics (Joel would return the favor by contributing backing vocals on Lauper's song "Maybe He'll Know" for her 1986 album True Colors).
The Bridge was Joel's last album to carry the "Family Productions" logo which had appeared on all of Joel's albums up to that time as part of a deal that Columbia Records made to get Joel out of his first recording contract with Artie Ripp's Family Productions. In the closing song of the album — "Getting Closer" — Joel makes several of what are clearly attacks and observations on the iron-clad contract with Ripp, with references to "my stolen youth", "all the conmen and their acrobats who stomped me in the ground," and "I must live up to contracts."
Associate engineers: Steve Boyer, Fred Tenny, David Dickson and Bradshaw Leigh
Technical support: Joe Salvatto, Gary Ciuzio, Joe Lopes, Frank Rodriguez, Peter Bergren, Bruce Howell, Cary Butler, Ed Evans, Mark Betts, Steve Buller, Ricki Begin, Audrey Tanaka, Billy Rothschild and Phil Vachon
Production coordinator: Joseph D'Ambrosio
Support system: Jim Flynn, Barry Bongiovi and The Power Station staff
Digitally recorded at The Power Station, Chelsea Sound (North), RCA Studios, New York, NY and Evergreen Studios, Burbank, CA
Mixed at The Power Station, New York, NY
Direct metal mastering at Sterling Sound, New York, NY by Ted Jensen
Acoustic Piano: supplied by Yamaha
Design: Mark Larson
Cover painting: Brad Holland
Photography: Patrick Demarchelier
Sleeve photos: Larry Busacca, Phil Ramone and Charles Reilly