The River

A blowout double-album split evenly between huge house-party numbers (and a wealth of live staples) and darker, real-world tales in the vein of the title track, The River represented a Springsteen out to explore the emerging dualities of his music.

Released: October 17, 1980
Label: Columbia Records
Produced By: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Steven Van Zandt
1 The Ties That Bind
Lyrics
You been hurt and you're all cried out you say
You walk down the street pushin' people outta your way
You packed your bags and all alone you wanna ride,
You don't want nothin', don't need no one by your side
You're walkin' tough baby, but you're walkin' blind
to the ties that bind

CHORUS
The ties that bind
Now you can't break the ties that bind

Cheap romance, it's all just a crutch
You don't want nothin' that anybody can touch
You're so afraid of being somebody's fool
Not walkin' tough baby, not walkin' cool
You walk cool, but darlin', can you walk the line
And face the ties that bind
The ties that bind
Now you can't break the ties that bind

I would rather feel the hurt inside, yes I would darlin',
Than know the emptiness your heart must hide,
Yes I would darlin', yes I would darlin',
Yes I would baby

You sit and wonder just who's gonna stop the rain
Who'll ease the sadness, who's gonna quiet the pain
It's a long dark highway and a thin white line
Connecting baby, your heart to mine
We're runnin' now but darlin' we will stand in time
To face the ties that bind
The ties that bind
Now you can't break the ties that bind
You can't forsake the ties that bind
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
2 Sherry Darling
Lyrics
Your Mamma's yappin' in the back seat
Tell her to push over and move them big feet
Every Monday morning I gotta drive her down to the unemployment agency
Well this morning I ain't fighting tell her I give up
Tell her she wins if she'll just shut up
But it's the last time that she's gonna be ridin' with me

CHORUS
You can tell her there's a hot sun beatin' on the black top
She keeps talkin' she'll be walkin' that last block
She can take a subway back to the ghetto tonight
Well I got some beer and the highway's free
And I got you, and baby you've got me.
Hey, hey, hey what you say Sherry Darlin'

Now there's girls melting on the beach
And they're so fine but so far out of reach
Cause I'm stuck in traffic down here on 53rd street
Now Sherry my love for you is real
But I didn't count on this package deal
And baby this car just aint big enough for her and me

CHORUS
So you can tell her there's a hot sun beatin' on the black top
She keeps talkin' she'll be walkin' that last block
She can take a subway back to the ghetto tonight
Well I got some beer and the highway's free
And I got you, and baby you've got me.
Hey, hey, hey what you say Sherry Darlin'

Well let there be sunlight, let there be rain
Let the brokenhearted love again
Sherry we can run with our arms open before the tide
To all the girls down at Sacred Heart
And all you operators back in the Park
Say hey, hey, hey what you say Sherry Darlin'
Hey, hey, hey, what you say Sherry Darlin'
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
3 Jackson Cage
Lyrics
Driving home she grabs something to eat
Turns a corner and drives down her street
Into a row of houses she just melts away
Like the scenery in another man's play
Into a house where the blinds are closed
To keep from seeing things she don't wanna know
She pulls the blinds and looks out on the street
The cool of the night takes the edge off the heat

In the Jackson Cage
Down in Jackson Cage
You can try with all your might
But you're reminded every night
That you been judged and handed life
Down in Jackson Cage

Every day ends in wasted motion
Just crossed swords on the killing floor
To settle back is to settle without knowing
The hard edge that you're settling for
Because there's always just one more day
And it's always gonna be that way
Little girl you've been down here so long
I can tell by the way that you move you belong to

The Jackson Cage
Down in Jackson Cage
And it don't matter just what you say
Are you tough enough to play the game they play
Or will you just do your time and fade away
Down into the Jackson Cage

Baby there's nights when I dream of a better world
But I wake up so downhearted girl
I see you feeling so tired and confused
I wonder what it's worth to me or you
Just waiting to see some sun
Never knowing if that day will ever come
Left alone standing out on the street
Till you become the hand that turns the key down in

Jackson Cage
Down in Jackson Cage
Well darlin' can you understand
The way that they will turn a man
Into a stranger to waste away
Down in the Jackson Cage
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
4 Two Hearts
Lyrics
I went out walking the other day
Seen a little girl crying along the way
She'd been hurt so bad said she'd never love again
Someday your crying girl will end
And you'll find once again

CHORUS
Two hearts are better than one
Two hearts girl get the job done
Two hearts are better than one

Once I spent my time playing tough guy scenes
But I was living in a world of childish dreams
Someday these childish dreams must end
To become a man and grow up to dream again
Now I believe in the end

CHORUS

Sometimes it might seem like it was planned
For you to roam empty hearted through this land
Though the world turns you hard and cold
There's one thing mister, that I know
That's if you think your heart is stone
And that you're rough enough to whip this world alone
Alone buddy there ain't no peace of mind
That's why I'll keep searching till I find my special one

CHORUS
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD) The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
5 Independence Day
Lyrics
Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time

Now I don't know what it always was with us
We chose the words, and yeah, we drew the lines
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind

Well say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day all boys must run away
So say goodbye it's Independence Day
All men must make their way come Independence Day

Now the rooms are all empty down at Frankie's joint
And the highway she's deserted down to Breaker's Point
There's a lot of people leaving town now
Leaving their friends, their homes
At night they walk that dark and dusty highway all alone

Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say can change anything now
Because there's just different people coming down here now
and they see things in different ways
And soon everything we've known will just be swept away

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say
But won't you just say goodbye it's Independence Day
I swear I never meant to take those things away
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
6 Hungry Heart
Lyrics
Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

CHORUS
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody's got a hungry heart

I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end
We took what we had and we ripped it apart
Now here I am down in Kingstown again

(CHORUS)

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don't make no difference what nobody says
Ain't nobody like to be alone

(CHORUS)
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 Greatest Hits (1995) The Essential Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits (2009) MusiCares Person Of The Year: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
7 Out in the Street
Lyrics
Put on your best dress baby
And darlin', fix your hair up right
Cause there's a party, honey
Way down beneath the neon lights
All day you've been working that hard line
Now tonight you're gonna have a good time

I work five days a week girl
Loading crates down on the dock
I take my hard earned money
And meet my girl down on the block
And Monday when the foreman calls time
I've already got Friday on my mind

When that whistle blows
Girl, I'm down the street
I'm home, I'm out of my work clothes
When I'm out in the street
I walk the way I wanna walk
When I'm out in the street
I talk the way I wanna talk
When I'm out in the street
When I'm out in the street

When I'm out in the street, girl
Well, I never feel alone
When I'm out in the street, girl
In the crowd I feel at home
The black and whites they cruise by
And they watch us from the corner of their eye

But there ain't no doubt girl, down here
We ain't gonna take what they're handing out
When I'm out in the street
I walk the way I wanna walk
When I'm out in the street
I talk the way I wanna talk
Baby, out in the street I don't feel sad or blue
Baby, out in the street I'll be waiting for you

When the whistle blows
Girl, I'm down the street
I'm home, I'm out of my work clothes
When I'm out in the street
I walk the way I wanna walk
When I'm out in the street
I talk the way I wanna talk

When I'm out in the street
Pretty girls, they're all passing by
When I'm out in the street
From the corner, we give them the eye

Baby, out in the street I just feel all right
Meet me out in the street, little girl, tonight
Meet me out in the street
Meet me out in the street
Also Appears On
Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD) The Ties That Bind: The River Collection London Calling: Live in Hyde Park
8 Crush on You
Lyrics
My feets were flyin' down the street just the other night
When a Hong Kong special pulled up at the light
What was inside, man, was just c'est magnifique
I wanted to hold the bumper and let her drag me down the street

CHORUS
Ooh, ooh, I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh, I gotta crush on you
Ooh, ooh, I gotta crush on you tonight

Sometimes I spot a little stranger standing 'cross the room
My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room
For one kiss, darling I swear everything I would give
Cause you're a walking, talking reason to live

CHORUS

Well now she might be the talk of high society
She's probably got a lousy personality
She might be a heiress to Rockefeller
She might be a waitress or a bank teller
She makes the Venus de Milo look like she's got no style
She make Sheena of the Jungle look meek and mild
I need a quick shot, Doc, knock me off my feet
Cause I'll be minding my own business walking down the street... watchout!

CHORUS
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
9 You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Lyrics
Yesterday I went shopping buddy down to the mall
Looking for something pretty I could hang on my wall
I knocked over a lamp before it hit the floor I caught it
A salesman turned around said, "boy, you break that thing you bought it"

CHORUS
You can look but you better not touch boy
You can look but you better not touch boy
Mess around and you'll end up in dutch boy
You can look but you better not, no you better not, no you better not touch

Well I came home from work and I switched on Channel 5
There was a pretty little girly lookin' straight into my eyes
Well I watched as she wiggled back and forth across the screen
She didn't get me excited she just made me feel mean

CHORUS

Well I called up Dirty Annie on the telephone
I took her out to the drive-in just to get her alone
I found a lover's rendezvous, the music low, set to park
I heard a tappin' on the window and a voice in the dark

CHORUS
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection Live 1975–85
10 I Wanna Marry You
Lyrics
I see you walking, baby, down the street
Pushing that baby carriage at your feet
I see the lonely ribbon in your hair
Tell me I am the man for whom you put it there

You never smile girl, you never speak
You just walk on by, darlin' week after week
Raising two kids alone in this mixed up world
Must be a lonely life for a working girl

CHORUS
Little girl, I wanna marry you
Oh yeah, little girl, I wanna marry you
Yes I do
Little girl, I wanna marry you

Now honey, I don't wanna clip your wings
But a time comes when two people should think of these things
Having a home and a family
Facing up to their responsibilities
They say in the end true love prevails
But in the end true love can't be no fairytale
To say I'll make your dreams come true would be wrong
But maybe, darlin', I could help them along

CHORUS

My daddy said right before he died
That true, true love was just a lie
He went to his grave a broken heart
An unfulfilled life, makes a man hard

Oh, darlin'
There's something happy and there's something sad
'Bout wanting somebody, oh so bad,
I wear my love darlin', without shame
I'd be proud if you would wear my name
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
11 The River
Lyrics
I come from down in the valley
where mister when you're young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school
when she was just seventeen
We'd ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

We'd go down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we'd ride

Then I got Mary pregnant
and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

But I remember us riding in my brother's car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride
Also Appears On
Live 1975–85 Greatest Hits (1995) Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD) The Essential Bruce Springsteen London Calling: Live in Hyde Park The Ties That Bind: The River Collection Chapter and Verse
12 Point Blank
Lyrics
Do you still say your prayers little darlin'
do you go to bed at night
Prayin' that tomorrow, everything will be alright
But tommorow's fall in number
in number one by one
You wake up and you're dying
you don't even know what from

Well they shot you point blank
you been shot in the back
Baby point blank you been fooled this time
little girl that's a fact
Right between the eyes, baby, point blank
right between the pretty lies that they tell
Little girl you fell

You grew up where young girls they grow up fast
You took what you were handed and left behind what was asked
but what they asked baby wasn't right
you didn't have to live that life,
I was gonna be your Romeo you were gonna be my Juliet
These days you don't wait on Romeo's
you wait on that welfare check
and on all the pretty things that you can't ever have
and on all the promises

That always end up point blank, shot between the eyes
Point blank like little white lies you tell to ease the pain
You're walkin' in the sights, girl of point blank
and it's one false move and baby the lights go out

Once I dreamed we were together again
baby you and me
Back home in those old clubs the way we used to be
We were standin' at the bar
it was hard to hear
The band was playin' loud and you were shoutin' somethin' in my ear
You pulled my jacket off and as the drummer counted four
You grabbed my hand and pulled me out on the floor
You just stood there and held me, then you started dancin' slow
And as I pulled you tighter I swore I'd never let you go

Well I saw you last night down on the avenue
Your face was in the shadows but I knew that it was you
You were standin' in the doorway out of the rain
You didn't answer when I called out your name
You just turned, and then you looked away
like just another stranger waitin' to get blown away

Point blank, right between the eyes
Point blank, right between the pretty lies you fell
Point blank, shot right through the heart

Yea point blank, you've been twisted up till you've become just another part of it
Point blank, you're walkin' in the sights
Point blank, livin' one false move just one false move away
Point blank, they caught you in their sights
Point blank, did you forget how to love,
girl, did you forget how to fight.
Point blank they must have shot you in the head
Cause point blank
bang bang baby you're dead.
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
13 Cadillac Ranch
Lyrics
Well, there she sits buddy justa gleaming in the sun
There to greet a working man when his day is done
I'm gonna pack my pa and I'm gonna pack my aunt
I'm gonna take them down to the Cadillac Ranch

Eldorado fins, whitewalls and skirts
Rides just like a little bit of heaven here on earth
Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Open up your engines let 'em roar
Tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur

James Dean in that Mercury '49
Junior Johnson runnin' thru the woods of Caroline
Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am
All gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Open up them engines let 'em roar
Tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur

Hey, little girlie in the blue jeans so tight
Drivin' alone through the Wisconsin night
You're my last love baby you're my last chance
Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection Live 1975–85
14 I'm a Rocker
Lyrics
I got a 007 watch and it's a one and only
It's got a I-Spy beeper that tells me when you're lonely
I got a Batmobile so I can reach ya' in a fast shake
When your world's in crisis of an impendin' heartbreak

Now don't you call James Bond or Secret Agent Man
Cause they can't do it, like I can
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker - every day
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker

If you're hanging from a cliff or you're tied to the tracks, girl
Columbo split and you can't find Kojak
True love is broken and your tears are fallin' faster
You're sufferin' from a pain in your heart or some other natural disaster

Now I don't care what kind of shape you're in
If they put up a roadblock, I'll parachute in
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker - I'm in love
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker - every day
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker - with you

So you fell for some jerk who was tall, dark and handsome
Then he kidnapped your heart and now he's holdin' it for ransom
Well, like a mission impossible I'm gonna go and get it back
You know I would'a taken better care of it, baby, than that

Sometimes I get so hot girl, well, I can't talk
But when I'm with you I cool off , and I walk
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker, and I talk
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker, every day
I'm a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker, every day
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
15 Fade Away
Lyrics
Well now you say you've found another man who does things to you that I can't
And that no matter what I do it's all over now
between me and you girl
But I can't believe what you say
No I can't believe what you say
'cause baby

CHORUS
I don't wanna fade away
Oh I don't wanna fade away
Tell me what can I do what can I say
Cause darlin' I don't wanna fade away

Well now you say that you've made up your mind
it's been such a long, long time since it's been good with us
And that somewhere back along the line you lost your love and I lost your trust
Now rooms that once were so bright are filled with the coming night, darlin'

CHORUS

You say it's not easy for you
And that you've been so lonely
While other girls go out doing what they want to do
You say that you miss the nights when we'd go out dancing
The days when you and I walked as two
Well girl I miss them too
Oh I swear that I do
Oh girl

Now baby I don't wanna be just another useless memory holding you tight
Or just some other ghost out on the street to whom you stop and politely speak
when you pass on by vanishing into the night
left to vanish into the night
No baby

CHORUS
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
16 Stolen Car
17 Ramrod
Lyrics
Hey, little dolly with the blue jeans on
I wanna ramrod with you honey, till half-past dawn
Let your hair down sugar and pick up this beat
Come on and meet me tonight down on Bluebird Street
I've been working all week, I'm up to my neck in hock
Come Saturday night I let my ramrod rock

She's a hot stepping hemi with a four on the floor
She's a roadrunner engine in a '32 Ford
Late at night when I'm dead on the line
I swear I think of your pretty face when I let her unwind
Well look over yonder see them city lights
Come on little dolly 'n' go ramroddin' tonight

Come on, come on, come on little baby
Come on, come on let's shake it tonight
Come on, come, come on little sugar
Dance with your daddy and we'll go ramroddin' tonight

Hey, little dolly won't you say you will
Meet me tonight up on top of the hill
Well just a few miles cross the county line
There's a cute little chapel nestled down in the pines
Say you'll be mine little girl I'll put my foot to the floor
Give me the word now sugar, we'll go ramroddin' forever more
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection Live in New York City Live in New York City (DVD) Live in Barcelona
18 The Price You Pay
Lyrics
You make up your mind, you choose the chance you take
You ride to where the highway ends and the desert breaks
Out on to an open road you ride until the day
You learn to sleep at night with the price you pay

Now with their hands held high, they reached out for the open skies
And in one last breath they built the roads they'd ride to their death
Driving on through the night, unable to break away
From the restless pull of the price you pay

CHORUS
Oh, the price you pay, oh, the price you pay
Now you can't walk away from the price you pay

Now they'd come so far and they'd waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of day
And you've gotta stand and fight for the price you pay

CHORUS

Little girl down on the strand
With that pretty little baby in your hands
Do you remember the story of the promised land
How he crossed the desert sands
And could not enter the chosen land
On the banks of the river he stayed
To face the price you pay

So let the games start, you better run you little wild heart
You can run through all the nights and all the days
But just across the county line, a stranger passing through put up a sign
That counts the men fallen away to the price you pay,
and girl before the end of the day,
I'm gonna tear it down and throw it away
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
19 Drive All Night
Lyrics
When I lost you honey sometimes I think I lost my guts too
And I wish God would send me a word
send me something I'm afraid to lose
Lying in the heat of the night like prisoners all our lives
I get shivers down my spine and all I wanna do is hold you tight

CHORUS
I swear I'll drive all night just to buy you some shoes
And to taste your tender charms
And I just wanna sleep tonight again in your arms

Tonight there's fallen angels and they're waiting for us down in the street
Tonight there's calling strangers,
hear them crying in defeat.
Let them go, let them go, let them go,
do their dances of the dead (let'em go right ahead)
You just dry your eyes girl, and c'mon c'mon
c'mon let's go to bed, baby, baby, baby

CHORUS

There's machines and there's fire waiting on the edge of town
They're out there for hire but baby they can't hurt us now
Cause you've got, you've got, you've got,
you've got my love, you've got my love
Through the wind, through the rain, the snow, the wind, the rain
You've got, you've got my, my love
Heart and soul
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection
20 Wreck on the Highway
Lyrics
Last night I was out driving
Coming home at the end of the working day
I was riding alone through the drizzling rain
On a deserted stretch of a county two-lane
When I came upon a wreck on the highway

There was blood and glass all over
And there was nobody there but me
As the rain tumbled down hard and cold
I seen a young man lying by the side of the road
He cried Mister, won't you help me please

An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway

Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
And I watch my baby as she sleeps
Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
Thinking 'bout the wreck on the highway
Also Appears On
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection