Bruce Springsteen – The Ties That Bind


What do you do when your dreams are not fulfilled and they are crashed down in the everyday routine life? What do you do when you are trying to achieve far better things only to come face to face with the harsh reality? At the very end, what do you do when you want to commit yourself to a long term relationship with the ties that bind? All these issues –and not only- were in the mind of Bruce Springsteen when he sat down to write his fifth album of his career. And if on “Born To Run” the dreams were running down in the open roads of the American highways and on “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” the protagonists had to deal with the obstacles of the hard life, on “The River” Springsteen brings back his characters to the mainstream, to the forefront of life thus putting them into a more social and intrapersonal situation. That was really the main difference between “The River” and its predecessor: the characters come out of an isolating environment and are ready for any kind of commitment.

This majestic box set consists of 4 CDs and 3 DVDs which are accompanied by a magnificent, hardcover book that contains more than 200 unreleased photos from that era. In addition, the potential purchaser is getting a replica of Springsteen’s notebook where he used to write down all his lyrics. The CDs include the double album, its initial single, 10-track album and a bunch of outtakes (22 to be exact). As for the DVDs, well what we have here is a 60-minute documentary plus a live show from Tempe, AZ shot in 1980 during “The River Tour”.

Honestly I cannot think of a better gift for all the Springsteen fans and I dare to say that “The Ties That Bind” surpass the imposing box set of “Darkness…” which was released a couple of years ago. Last but certainly not least I must point down that the outtakes gives us a far detailed picture of what the Boss was trying to achieve with “The River” by providing a garage/rock n’ roll aesthetic to the album (Little Steven’s role was crucial on that). And in case you are wondering why Springsteen took back from Columbia the initial single album the answer is that he thought –and quite rightfully so- that those first 10 tracks didn’t give what the Boss wanted to give to its audience and most specifically they didn’t capture the energy of his bombastic live shows. Truth be told here though; with such songs as “Independence Day” and the title track the road was paved for “Nebraska” which would be released a couple of years later on. But that’s another (American) story…