|"The Ties That Bind"|
|Song by Bruce Springsteen|
|from the album The River|
|Recorded||May or June 1979 at The Power Station in New York|
|Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt|
"The Ties That Bind" is a song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen. It is the opening song on his fifth album, The River. It was recorded at The Power Station in New York in May or June 1979. It was one of the earlier songs Springsteen wrote for The River, as it was written on the road during his 1978 tour. The song was also often performed during the latter part of that tour.
"The Ties That Bind" was originally intended to be released as the title track of a single album that was to be released in 1979. This proposed album was eventually scrapped and expanded to become the double album The River. The contents of that album was released on December 4, 2015 as part of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection, the fifth disc of which contains the 60- minute documentary, The Ties That Bind by Thom Zimny and features an interview with Springsteen on writing and recording of The River. The film illustrates the music with solo acoustic guitar performances, period concert footage, and photos of Bruce and the band.
The songs on The River reveal a tension between the need for community and the need to be alone. "The Ties That Bind", along with "Two Hearts" and "Out in the Street", is one of the key songs on the album about the need for community. Author Rob Kirkpatrick describes the song as "a challenge to a hurt woman not to forsake love but rather to accept the ties of relationships. It is a theme Springsteen would later reuse in his 1992 single "Human Touch."Rolling Stone critic Paul Nelson cited the lyrics to "The Ties That Bind" as an example of "simple yet sturdy" lyrics that are "filled with an uncommon common sense and intelligence that could only have come from an exceptionally warmhearted but wary graduate of the street of hard knocks. It is a pulsing rocker that was influenced by Jackie De Shannon's "When You Walk in the Room", Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop the Rain" and by The Searchers.
The earliest known version of "The Ties That Bind" was performed as part of the soundcheck for a concert on September 20, 1978 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. In that version, the theme was reversed from the ultimate version; rather than being about the need for community it was about the need to be alone and for escape. Music critic Clinton Heylin regards this version as being "magnificent," "with a great pop hook set to a strong if undeveloped lyrical idea," with lyrics such as "No one at my side/There's just a cold, dark highway and a thin white line/Which will lead me to the ties that bind." By the time Springsteen began to perform it in concert in late autumn of 1978, the song had taken a form similar to its ultimate form, but Heylin regards the original version as being superior.
"The Ties That Bind" has been a reasonably popular song in concert over the years, with about 200 performances through 2008. An encyclopedia about Bruce Springsteen took its name from the title of this song.