On October 17, 1980, Bruce Springsteen released his fifth studio album, "The River".
This is one of "the boss" greatest and deepest musical works, both in terms of scope and content. A double album that includes 20 songs spread over almost 90 minutes, which is considered by many to be the last part in a trilogy of three albums that deal with the character of Bruce Springsteen at crucial times in his life. "Born to Run" from 1975, "Darkness at the Edge of Town" from 1978, and "The River" from 1980.
This double album features an eclectic collection of songs written in different periods, from the early years of Springsteen's career to new material drawn from various projects and recent tour dates. For example, the songs "Independence Day", "Point Blank", "The Ties That Bind", "Ramrod", and "Sherry Darling" were outtakes from the sessions for the album "Darkness at the Edge of Town".
This album was originally intended to be released as a solo album called "The Ties That Bind" (as the name of the first song on the album) and was intended to be released in late 1979. However, while writing the theme song "The River" Springsteen decided to add more melancholic folk songs and compose another collection of songs From diverse genres and make this a double album. This is why the recording of the album took about 18 months, with director and producer Jon Landau, as well as Steven Van Zandt, joining Springsteen as co-producers.
During the sessions, a large number of songs were written and recorded but eventually did not included in the album, such as "Be True", "Held Up Without a Gun" and "Roulette" which were eventually released as b-sides, as well as songs that Springsteen gave to other artists such as Warren Zevon And songs released as part of Springsteen's boxes and collections later in his career.
In terms of sound, this album was aimed at a "live" sound, probably because a significant portion of the album's songs was already featured in Springsteen's live shows, even before its release. Lyrically, the songs are mostly personal and moving with themes ranging from hope to disillusionment.
8 singles have been released from the album and it includes some of the boss' beautiful and exciting works, among them:
The theme song "The River" is based on conversations Springsteen had with his brother-in-law after he lost his job in the building. A hard-working man who worked hard to support his wife and young child, but never complained.
Springsteen wrote "Hungry Heart" following a meeting with Joey Ramone intending to give it to the "Ramones", but eventually decided it was too good of a track to give away.
The moving "Independence Day" is written about Springsteen's relationship with his father, who worked at the "Nescafé" factory. They did not get along, but later in life, Bruce realized that his father was working very hard to support his family and began to appreciate him.
"Cadillac Ranch" is one of a variety of songs Springsteen wrote about cars, which refers to a collection of 10 Cadillac cars to which visitors may add graffiti, in a wheat field near Amarillo, Texas.
"I Wanna Marry You" - is a mature song that is a departure from many of Springsteen's previous songs about wild and free life.
"Out in the Street" is one of the few songs that sits on the border between the two styles in the album ranging from bouncy and energetic songs versus working class melancholy.
And of course, the amazing "Point Blank" which was the last song recorded for the album, and its title was borrowed from a 1967 film of the same name starring Lee Marvin, one of Springsteen's first "story" songs to be perfected later in his career in ballads like "Nebraska" and "The Ghost Of Tom Joad".
"The River" became Springsteen's first album to reach number one on the Billboard 200, where it stayed for four consecutive weeks. Springsteen called this album a "gateway" to his future writing, with the albums "Nebraska" and "Tunnel of Love" directly drawing stories and themes that originated on this album.