The River (Bruce Springsteen album)

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The River
Bruce Springsteen - The River.jpg
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released October 17, 1980 (1980-10-17)
Recorded The Power Station, New York
March 1979 – August 1980
Genre Rock, heartland rock
Length 83:47
Label Columbia
Producer Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt
Bruce Springsteen chronology
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The River
Singles from The River
  1. "Hungry Heart"
    Released: October 21, 1980
  2. "Fade Away"
    Released: January 22, 1981
  3. "I Wanna Marry You"
    Released: 1981
  4. "Sherry Darling"
    Released: 1981 (UK only)
  5. "The River"/"Independence Day"
    Released: May 1981 (UK only)
  6. "Cadillac Ranch"
    Released: 1981 (UK only)
  7. "Point Blank"
    Released: 1981 (UK only)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Absolute Punk 93%[9]
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[2]
Christgau's Record Guide A−[3]
Melody Maker (favorable)[4]
Q 5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[7]
Sounds (favorable)[8]

The River is the fifth studio album, and the first double album by Bruce Springsteen. The album was released on October 17, 1980. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 253 on their list of the greatest albums of all time. On December 5, 2015 a deluxe box set of the album will be released. It is said to contain the recent remaster of the album, 2 cd's of 20-25 studio outtakes from the sessions, a dvd of pro shot footage from a 1980 concert, and a dvd of a feature length documentary on the making of the album.


The sources of The River go back into earlier parts of Springsteen's recording career. "Independence Day", "Point Blank", "The Ties That Bind", "Ramrod", and "Sherry Darling" were leftovers from his previous album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and had been featured on that 1978 tour, as had parts of "Drive All Night" as a long interpolation within "Backstreets."[10] "The River" had premiered at the September 1979 Musicians United for Safe Energy concerts, gaining a featured spot in the subsequent documentary No Nukes.[10]

Originally, the album was to be a single set entitled The Ties That Bind and released in late 1979.[11] Springsteen added darker material after he'd written the title track. Indeed, The River became noted for its mix of the frivolous next to the solemn. This was intentional, and in contrast to Darkness, for as Springsteen said during an interview, "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."[12]

On November 8, 2009, at a concert, Bruce Springsteen spoke about the album, saying: "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."[13]

"Hungry Heart" was Springsteen's first U.S. pop singles chart top ten hit single, reaching number five.[14] (Springsteen had not intended the song to be for himself, having initially written it for The Ramones; manager/producer Jon Landau convinced Springsteen to keep the song for himself.) The album hit number one on the U.S. pop albums chart, a first for Springsteen, and sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S. between its release and Christmas.[15] "Fade Away" reached number 20.[14]

The album was followed by a lengthy tour of North America and Western Europe during 1980 and 1981.[16] Since its release, The River has been certified quintuple platinum by the RIAA in the U.S., making it one of Springsteen's best-selling albums and his highest certified studio release after Born in the U.S.A. and Born to Run.[17] In 2003, the album was ranked number 250 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[18] In a December 2013 interview, Springsteen's manager Jon Landau said that they were currently working on a deluxe reissue box set of The River.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.

Side one
No. Title Length
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
No. Title Length
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
No. Title Length
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
No. Title Length
1. "Ramrod"   4:05
2. "The Price You Pay"   5:29
3. "Drive All Night"   8:33
4. "Wreck on the Highway"   3:54

Unreleased outtakes[edit]

Like with the previous album, Springsteen wrote a large amount of music during album sessions, many of which has been released, a lot still unreleased. Songs such as "Held Up Without a Gun", "Be True", and "Roulette" were featured as b sides, the first two on the album's singles and the last on a Tunnel Of Love single. "Mary Lou", "I Wanna Be With You", "Bring on the Night", "Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own", "Loose Ends", "Dollhouse", "Where the Bands Are", "Living on the Edge of the World", "Restless Nights", "Take 'Em As They Come" were released on the Tracks box set with "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)" on The Essential Bruce Springsteen collection. Prior to the album being recorded, Springsteen had intended to release an album called The Ties That Bind. Of the songs recorded for that release, most made The River however an alternate version of "Stolen Car" was released on Tracks while a rockabilly version of "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" and "Cindy" remain unreleased although both fully completed studio versions of the songs exist. During The River sessions, Springsteen also recorded "Jole Blon", "Dedication", "Your Love" and "This Little Girl", songs he would eventually give to Gary U.S. Bonds for two of his albums on which Springsteen produced and appeared on along with other members of the E Street Band. "Janey Needs a Shooter" was also given to Warren Zevon, which he re-worked and recorded.[20]

  • Cindy
  • Little White Lies
  • Janey Needs a Shooter
  • The Man Who Got Away
  • Chain Lightning
  • Find It Where You Can
  • Break My Heart
  • Out On the Run (Looking For Love)
  • Night Fire
  • In the City Tonight
  • Under the Gun
  • I Don't Wanna Be
  • Chevrolet Deluxe
  • Slow Fade
  • Jole Blon
  • Party Lights
  • Do You Want Me To Say Alright
  • Time That Never Was
  • Down In White Town
  • Angelyne
  • A Thousand Tears (William Davis)
  • I Will Be the One
  • Stray Bullet
  • Tonight
  • I'm Gonna Treat You Right
  • Dedication
  • Your Love
  • This Little Girl





Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[40] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[41] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[42] 2× Gold 442,400[43]
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ William Ruhlmann (1980-10-10). "The River - Bruce Springsteen | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (August 23, 1992). "The Recorded History of Springsteen". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. p. 381. ISBN 067973015X. 
  4. ^ Paolo Hewitt (1980-10-11). "Bruce Springsteen: The River (CBS) . By Paolo Hewitt : Articles, reviews and interviews from Rock's Backpages". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  5. ^ Williams, Richard (December 1989). "All or Nothing: The Springsteen back catalogue". Q. p. 149. 
  6. ^ Nelson, Paul (December 11, 1980). "Bruce Springsteen The River > Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Bruce Springsteen". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 771–773. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.  Portions posted at "Bruce Springsteen > Album Guide". Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Phil Sutcliffe (1980-10-11). "Bruce Springsteen: The River. By Phil Sutcliffe : Articles, reviews and interviews from Rock's Backpages". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ a b The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen - Rob Kirkpatrick - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  11. ^ Marsh, D. (1981) [1979]. Born to Run. Dell Publishing Co. p. 247. ISBN 0-440-10694-X. 
  12. ^ Dave Marsh (2004). Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts - The Definitive Biography, 1972-2003. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-415-96928-4. 
  13. ^ Transcribed Bruce Springsteen Quotes
  14. ^ a b "Bruce Springsteen - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  15. ^ "Bruce Springsteen - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  16. ^ "Bruce Springsteen The River Tour Song Count". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  17. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - January 29, 2014". RIAA. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  18. ^ "Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2012 Updated List) - Ones I Own". Listology. 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  19. ^ Andy Greene (2013-12-17). "Bruce Springsteen on New Album 'High Hopes': Exclusive Interview | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  22. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2012-04-04
  23. ^ " Bruce Springsteen – The River" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  24. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Retrieved 2012-04-04. Note: user must select 'Bruce SPRINGSTEEN' from drop-down
  25. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  26. ^ " Bruce Springsteen – The River" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  27. ^ " Bruce Springsteen – The River" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  28. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  29. ^ " Bruce Springsteen – The River" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  30. ^ "Chart Stats: Bruce Springsteen – The River" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  31. ^ "allmusic ((( The River > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  32. ^ "Album Search: Bruce Springsteen – The River" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  33. ^ "Top 100 Albums". RPM. 1980-12-20. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  34. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1980" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  35. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1980 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  36. ^ a b "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  37. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 1981". RPM. 1981-12-26. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  38. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1981" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  39. ^ "Billboard.BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1981". Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  40. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2008 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  41. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – The River". Music Canada. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  42. ^ "French album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – The River" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and click OK
  43. ^ "Les Albums Or". (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  44. ^ "British album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – The River". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2012-04-04.  Enter The River in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  45. ^ "American album certifications – Bruce Springsteen – The River". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-04-04.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Guilty by Barbra Streisand
Billboard 200 number-one album
November 8 - December 5, 1980
Succeeded by
Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits by Kenny Rogers