You're Walkin' Tough, Baby

Song: The Ties That Bind
Album: The River
Year: 1980

I can't tell if this song is celebrating the ties that bind or is warning of their restrictive power, because of the thick, delicious musk of melancholy that envelopes all of The Boss' songs. Either way, diggin' it, so bind me up with a side of ties, good sir! It apparently was written while on the road touring, which explains the relatively simple lyrics—the E Street Band probably makes B leave his thesaurus at home (rude).

This song hits that Springsteen sweet spot: it's poetic without being wordy, less than six minutes long, and mentions both "running" and "the rain"(two common thematic elements in his work that are not trains). And yeah, there's a saxophone solo for no good reason, in case you'd forgotten that this is Bruce goddamn Springsteen. It's a masterpiece, and I am not surprised that 12 years later The Cure would attempt to start off "Friday I'm in Love" with an almost identical guitar riff. (You thought no one would notice because you kept the hot sax licks out of it, but I'm on to you, Robert Smith. You can't just slip one by Bruce Springsteen's #1 fan and best friend* like that.)(*pending)


Rating: 9 out of 10 long dark highways, connecting your heart to mine. This makes me feel: real fi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-iiiiine. Fun Bruce Fact: The Ties That Bind is also the title of an encyclopedia about Bruce Springsteen. Imagine being so accomplished that someone makes an encyclopedia about you. New goal.