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  • Writer's picturePete Chianca

Poll Results: On its 40th birthday, these are your favorite tracks from Springsteen's 'The River'

Editor's note: Bruce Springsteen's "The River" LP turns 40 on Oct. 17. This is the second in a series of posts about that classic album to mark the occasion.

The responses are in -- about 1,200 of them -- and here are a few things we learned from our survey about your favorite tracks from "The River" to mark its 40th birthday today:

  • It's not your imagination: You really are not crazy about "Crush on You" and "I'm a Rocker." (But with average scores of 6.4 and 6.7 out of 10, respectively, you don't exactly hate them either.)

  • With no score below a 6.4 and 15 tracks finishing at 7.22 or higher out of 10, you like this album -- you really like it!

  • Judging from the top 4, while "The River" may have some of Springsteen's most rollicking tracks, the real reason people are listening to it is to curl up into a ball and, at least occasionally, sob.

  • I'm calling foul on "Ramrod" at 15 (average score: 7.22). That's an 8 if ever there was one.

Here are the results, from least to most favorite:

20) Crush on You (Average score: 6.4)

19) I'm a Rocker (Average score: 6.7)

18) You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) (Average score: 6.79)

17) I Wanna Marry You (Average score: 6.92)

16) Jackson Cage (Average score: 6.94)

15) Ramrod (Average score: 7.22)

14) Two Hearts (Average score: 7.43)

13) Fade Away (Average score: 7.56)

12) Stolen Car (Average score: 7.64)

11) Sherry Darling (Average score: 7.681)

10) Cadillac Ranch (Average score: 7.689)

9) Wreck on the Highway (Average score: 7.7)

8) The Ties That Bind (Average score: 7.83)

7) The Price You Pay (Average score: 7.85)

6) Out in the Street (Average score: 8.07)

5) Hungry Heart (Average score: 8.09)

4) Drive All Night (Average score: 8.16)

3) Independence Day (Average score: 8.19)

2) Point Blank (Average score: 8.23)

1) The River (Average score: 9.22)

Or, if you're a chart person:

Here's a Spotify playlist ordered from least to most favorite, and I'll admit it's a little jarring hearing them in this order. (Although "Fade Away"/"Stolen Car" make for quite a one-two punch, and following "Cadillac Ranch" with "Wreck on the Highway" seems ... oddly appropriate?") Take a listen, and check out below for some of our best unedited reader comments about their favorite tracks.

Reader Comments on Their Favorites:

"Sherry Darling. I’m a sucker fir the frat-rock style." Mike, St Cloud, FL

"The River. ‘Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true.' For that line." Lesley, UK

"The River. It is perfect. Probably the song that best represents everything Springsteen in one song. It’s powerful on the album and live. Whatever version it is in, it is a masterpiece." Craig, Dudley, England

"Point Blank. The rhythm just draws me in. It's the feeling of love and betrayal. Light and dark." Kelly-Ann, Maine

"Out in the Street because it makes me happy." Monty, Oklahoma City, OK

"The River ... I was 20 in Sep 80, in October: 1st job, 1st apartment, not much money, alone, I just had a little pick up to listen to The River that I bought with my little savings for the month. I got up early in the morning to walk to work, not enough money for the license and even less for a car! The melody accompanied me every morning of that winter, and it's a sweet memory of my adult life that was beginning! I like to remember I was 20 with Bruuuuce and The River." Marie-Laure, Evry, France

"Drive All Night. It just touches me the most. The vulnerability in Bruce’s voice, the way the song builds up through the climax with 4x «heart and soul», the feeling that Bruce really mean what he sings and that it seems important for him to tell the story, and last but not least: the sax solo ... " Hans, Molde, Norway

"I always loved Cadillac Ranch cause it was just so much fun to sing along in concert. But, Drive All Night is my #1. Only after I was married did I realize what a gorgeous and passionate love song this is ... that a man would do anything in his power for his woman -even something as simple (or expensive when you don't have a nickel to your name) as get her the shoes she desires." Melissa, Washington, PA

"Out on the Street because when I got home from work (where I had to act in a way my colleges didn’t know I was a street kid) I could dress walk and talk the way I wanna talk. I really understood that song." Laura, Ringwood NJ (formerly Queens NY)

"The River by a whisker. A great ballad which songs as good when I first heard it in 1980." Mike, New Milford, NJ

"Ramrod because it epitomizes everything that is great about the E Street Band!" Mike, Naperville, Il

"The album is so important in my own life - the timing was perfect and had so many songs that just spoke to me in the same way that 'Darkness on The Edge of Town' had done so a few years earlier. There are several - but in the end it comes down to 'Independence Day' - in 1980 I had moved 1900 miles west of New Jersey to Colorado and it meant one thing - in 2019 after I lost my father - it meant something else. "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," and it was the line I quoted at his funeral." Anton/Colorado Springs, CO

"The River. The harmonica start and the chilling singing at the end." Gary, Wausau WI

"The River. It has everything that makes for an epic Bruce anthem. Haunting lyrics, intense vocals like none other, classic Bruce/Steve harmonies, and a fantastic harmonica part!" David, Chicago, Illinois

"Independence Day because I was told to listen to it as at the time my father had just passed away. It was also my introduction to Bruce Springsteen & i never looked back."N., Horrocks, Manchester, UK

"Stolen Car for its soaring beauty. It is Bruce at his elegiac best and is like going to church." Gregg Kulesa, Huntington, NY

"Drive All Night. A love song that spoke to me when I was 20. Still does at 60. Bruce's voice and Clarences sax sublime."

"Stolen Car. Because it makes me feel 100 years old." Brian, Verona, NJ

"Independence Day; because it reminds me of being on my own for the first time."

Jim, Crestwood IL

"Fade Away. It’s a song that that touches my heart because no one wants to just fade away and not be remembered or loved by someone.To be let go after being loved by someone is the most pain a human being can feel!" Jerry, Ontario, Canada

"Two Hearts. Meaningful lyrics and a blast of pure pop rock. Endlessly playable."

"Independence Day because it's the advice I should have followed 40 years ago. I heard it then, I listen to it now." Adam, South Brunswick, NJ

"The Price You Pay. Classic E-Street sound. The song, to me, represents the transition in growth. From boy to man." Thomas, Buffalo, NY

"The River. There are a few other songs from the album I'd place in a virtual tie, or even ahead if based on live performances, but The River is the track that hooked me as a Bruce fan. I was just shy of my 19th birthday when I first heard it, and my mom was 19 (and pregnant with me) when she married my dad (also 19). So, yeah, this song resonates like no other." Pete, Los Angeles, Calif.

"I would be hard pressed to pick just one, if I had to it would be "Stolen Car" - gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. Bruce has been, and will continue to be my #1 singer songwriter of all time! Love you Bruce." Tammy Myers Mission BC Canada

"Drive all Night. The vulnerability of true love." Shannon, Minnesota

"Point Blank, it is so cinematic and the emotional tension is so intense, passionate."

"Hungry Heart , says so much in only 3 verses , it has a timeless feel that reminds me of being young, an endless summer, and the big man's horn sounding like bubble gum stuck to your shoe walking down to the corner store with a pocket full of quarters! It's just a perfect song." Shannon, Lake Wales FL

"The River: Ce n'est pas qu'une chanson, quand on l'écoute c'est comme si on était allongé sur une table de massage et que les doigts de la masseuse traversait ton cuir chevelu pour relaxer ton cerveau." (Translation: "It's not just a song, when you listen to it it's like you're lying on a massage table and the masseuse's fingers are going through your scalp to relax your brain.") Victor, Fontainebleu, France

"The River. It’s like he wrote the song about me 10 years before I lived it. 'Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse' is in my opinion one of the greatest lyric lines ever written." Scott, Tampa FL

"Independence Day, mirrors my relationship with my dad, cried my eyes out when Bruce played it in Paris 2016 2 days before dad's funeral." Graham, UK

"My choice has to be Drive All Night Bruce puts into words how I felt going through my divorce." Andrew Fyles Bromsgrove GB.

"My favourite song has always been 'Jackson Cage' from The River. Why? It reminds me of the times in life when I felt trapped and needed to escape."

"Drive All Night is the most romantic song ever written. I don’t know one man who would drive all night just to taste the tender charms of his lover. Not to mention buying her shoes! Shoes!!" Karmella, Columbus, Ohio

"This was the record where I determined what kind of music I liked. I was 17 and from that first explosion of sound from the opening of The Ties That Bind to Wreck on the Highway it was clear to me that this combination of guitars, drums, piano, saxophone and organ was the sound I was drawn to and nobody did it better than Bruce ... I just love love love The Price You Pay." David Page Roanoke, Virginia

Cadillac Ranch. Quite possibly the greatest rock and roll song of all time. Great quick beat, great intro, great lead. It's got the cars and the girl!"Jeff, Greensboro, NC

"Jackson Cage.... Powerful and angry, as relevant now as then, unlike lots of the songs on this album. The River - It hits home with a bunch of things. Especially her body tanned and wet by the reservoir." Pete, Buzzards Bay, MA

"Point Blank - the lyrics and music match so perfectly to set a truly spellbinding story of loss, betrayal and the yearning for a love that was never love, and is now simply a shadowy, harmful obsession." Jim, Santa Ana, USA

"Two Hearts. This is my favorite song from The River to sing and play on guitar to my children when they go to sleep at night." Greg, Oakton, Virginia

"The Price You Pay. Because the choices you make in life cost something. Emotionally, physically, mentally. It’s the price you pay."

"Out in the Street. It reminds me of my family and in particular my golden retriever who passed away. She used to listen to me playing it on the piano and we would dance in the kitchen to it. I always think of her when it plays." Laura, Scotland

"My favourite song from The River is 'The Ties That Bind' because it's kind of like my theme song. It feels like Bruce is singing about me and to me. It's just an incredible feeling you get when you listen to his music, any of his music really, and this song helped me through difficult times when I felt like I couldn't accomplish anything. So I would just like to say thank you Mr. Bruce Springsteen for all the music you make. P.S. looking forward to 'Letter To You.' ✌" Ileia, Church Hill, TN



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