The River: A selection of pure joy and utter heartbreak

I have recently acquired this album for the first time. I did not realize beforehand how many of the songs I already know from other sources (meaning various DVD’s and from YouTube, of course). I’ve not only known them, but got to love them already. Independence Day and Fade away I first saw on the album of early shows included in The Promise. And I think Fade away, too. I find Independence Day  an absolutely heartbreaking and hauntingly beautiful song. Stolen car and The price you pay were played by Julian Garcia on his last HGRNJ show Groove it all night and I finally got around to checking the songs I don’t know on YouTube. I find Stolen Car a wonderful metaphor for living an unauthentic live (as one comment said on YouTube), as I’ve done for quite a few years – not doing what you should have done, not being what you should have been. With Two Hearts I fell in love when I acquired the Live in New York City DVD. Pure joy on the surface, with a deep longing for real connection if you look a bit deeper.
One of the interesting things for me is to notice one again what a big difference there is between the live versions of a song and the studio version. With this I don’t imply that there’s anything wrong with the studio recordings (I anyway don’t have enough knowledge of the subject to judge it). It is just that his live shows are so … well … ALIVE. Nothing can really beat it. The best example here is Ramrod, a song that I met on my very first Springsteen DVD, namely the Barcelona concert from 2003. I have never before or after seen anybody having such a lovely time on a stage as Bruce and Stevie (and certainly the whole band) with that song. The title cut of course, I have known from the very beginning. I especially love the clip where Sting sings it with Bruce.
But what touches me the deepest about this album is the transitions between songs of absolute joy and songs of absolute heartbreak. For me personally this is one of the most difficult things in life  – to handle the great expanse of emotions between the furthest points of pure joy and pure despair. And to survive the transitions between the opposite points. So for an artist to write about both so clearly from the heart – and being able to live with it – is for me a really great thing.
Once again – thank you, Bruce!

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