1980: “The River” – Bruce Springsteen


Aahh 1980. A new decade, a new little brother, The Empire Strikes Back and this double album classic from The Boss.

I think of all artists, the one that makes me think of my dad the most, is Bruce Springsteen. Although he’s just as much a Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Petty man, it’s Springsteen that stands out to me as being music my dad properly got my interested in.To be clear though, my dad’s not one of them dads who is just locked in the past going “Now THIS is music!”, (although he does do that). Oh no. He’s still keeping up to date with what’s going on in the music world. He’ll even put me onto new stuff that sometimes I haven’t even heard.

Martin2yr2 (2)

My brother, my dad and me in Autumn 1980

When I was a kid, I remember nights where my mum and dad would play records and me and my younger brother would sit and listen with them. I definitely get my love of music from my parents and I’m sure it’s these nights spent with no TV on, just the record player with us all listening and chatting, that gives me my feeling that listening to music can JUST be the activity you’re doing rather than only being the soundtrack to another.

I used to love it when an album I was looking forward to was released and I would take it home, put it on and just lay on my bed listening while i devoured the contents of the booklet. I could never understand my school friends who said they could only put music on if they were doing something else at the time, but couldn’t comprehend the idea of just listening to music! Don’t get me started on the ones who said ” Oh I’m not really bothered about music” But sure enough, they were the ones whose parents didn’t own any records, or if they did, they never played them.

I can vividly remember reading the lyrics in the sleeve of “Born In The USA” and thinking how cool the E street band looked in the photos. (In hindsight probably not so cool looking).

In the way that for the music loving kids with music loving parents there’s always some particular artist or band they like because its been passed onto them, Springsteen ticks that box for me. I’m pretty happy with that. It could have been much much worse. I have some mates whose parents were into Deep Purple.

I’m picking “The River” for 1980 because it’s classic Springsteen, and being a double album it manages to cover all bases of his musical repertoire. The full blown rockers, the songs with all out pop sensibilities and the downbeat thoughtful story tellers. I get that he’s not for everyone, but what i don’t understand is some of the throwaway reasons people give. The tired line of ” flag waving patriot songs” regularly trotted out is wrong and boring. At least listen to an album before saying that, not just the song “Born In The USA” with only one ear open.

Some of my favourite songs are on “The River”. The title track, “Out In The Street”, “Hungry Heart”( You definitely like “Hungry Heart”), “Jackson Cage” and “Point Blank” to name a few.

I took my Dad to see Springsteen about 5 years ago in Manchester and it was amazing. Clarence Clemons was still alive, and although they didn’t play anything from “The River” it  was amazing to be with my Dad listening to the music that meant so much to me because it meant so much to him.


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