Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "The River" (1980)

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Like a great poem, a great song can take a series of connected ideas, perhaps as complex as a life, and distill it to its essence. In “The River,” we have lives that were full of dreams, interrupted by the realities of life. The turning point occurs early on with “Then I got Mary Pregnant/and man that was all she wrote.” Wistful looks back don’t provide a lot of relief to what follows.

The sadness that “The River” is built on is emphasized by that forlorn harmonica line that introduces the song. It’s just that kind of juxtaposition that makes the tune so great: a short, beautiful piece of music that infuses such a melancholy story.

Next Up: Point Blank

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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