Bruce Springsteen is an icon in the music world who has achieved great success during his musical career. In 1980, The Boss would score his first No. 1 album in the United States with his fifth studio album, The River.
Released on October 17, 1980, The River would secure the top spot on the US charts for four weeks beginning November 1. The album was produced by Jon Landau, Springsteen, and bandmate Steven Van Zandt and received critical acclaim, with the title track nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance at the 1982 Grammys.
The River would be Springsteen's only double album, which was initially intended to be a single titled The Ties That Bind. Not satisfied with the first recorded songs, Springsteen and the E Street Band would continue making new songs for the album. At Landua's suggestion, they decided on the double album which included 20 of the 50 songs recorded.
Bruce Springsteen double album, The River
"The River" single was recorded in 1979 and performed live in September and would be featured in the 1980 documentary and concert film No Nukes. The concert was held at Madison Square Garden in September 1979, where Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band played three songs, "The River," "Thunder Road," and "Quarter To Three." Organized by the Musicians United for Safe Energy collective, which educates against nuclear energy.
Another track from the album "Hungry Heart" was written by Springsteen for The Ramones. Landau convinced Springsteen to keep it for himself, which was a wise choice because the song would be his first U.S. pop singles chart top ten single, reaching the No. 5 spot.
The album would be promoted via a North American and Western Europe tour between 1980 and 1981. Springsteen and the E Street Band would play 46 shows in the United States, followed by a 26-show second leg with stops in Canada and the US.
In 2009, at a concert in Madison Square Garden, Springsteen would have this say about "The River" single.
"“This [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. It’s title song is a song I wrote for my brother and sister. My brother 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 lead to complete records later on: The River sorta 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. 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.”"- Bruce Springsteen
The River has been certified quintuple platinum, making it one of Bruce Springsteen's best-selling albums behind Born In The USA and Born To Run.