I've scanned my Top 20 list over and over trying to decide which song to write about for today. Some of these songs are a lot more likely than the others. Which menu should I choose from: the possible or the fat chance? I'm sure Bruce himself would groan loudly when I say I've found that question buried deep within one of the songs on my list, but play along with me: "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true/Or is it something worse?"
Yes, I've decided to talk about "The River." I'm sure I'm drawing groans from a few of my fellow Springsteen fans and maybe even a cry of "hypocrite!" I have been banging away for three years now about wanting Bruce to change things up and play something he doesn't play night after night, and "The River" doesn't exactly fit that criteria… except that I haven't heard it. I have no shame putting myself at the front of the line when it comes to getting my songs.
The story of this song is one that never really goes out of style but considering the state of the economy when this was written and its current state, I have a feeling the song will have a special resonance. For those not familiar, "The River" is the story of the struggles of a young couple forced by circumstance to grow up fast. On previous Springsteen records, this was the time of life when anything seemed possible for the characters in his songs. In "The River," the dreams and possibilities now seem hopelessly out of reach. It's a bleak song, but not without hope and certainly not without beauty. It's a soundtrack to a lot of lives out there.
Come Sunday night, we'll all be down on the river in St. Louis. The time and place are right for the images, sounds, and words.