The year was 1979. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band were putting the finishing touches on The Ties That Bind, a single ten-track album that would follow up 1978's Darkness On The Edge Of Town. The album contained some familiar songs that would eventually wind up on The River, but it also contained alternate takes of some River tracks, as well as songs that wouldn't be heard again until years later on the 1998 outtakes compilation, Tracks, and last month's box set, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

When the recording process was completed for The Ties That Bind, the general feeling was that something was missing, so Bruce and the band went back to the drawing board. The River was the final product. But could it have been even better? Disk four in The River box set contains 22 outtakes from the album. Some are forgettable, but what would you expect? They're outtakes for a reason. On the other hand, some of these songs are hidden gems that could have easily made it as one of the twenty songs on The River.

So here's what we are going to do. By using my worst to first ranking of the tracks on Bruce Springsteen's The River, I am going to replace the worst of what made the original album with the best of what didn't. If you are a Springsteen fan who has heard the outtakes from The River, I invite you to play along at home and share what you would have made the final track list of The River.

1. "Chain Lightning" replaces "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)"

2. "Where The Bands Are" replaces "Jackson Cage"

3. "Stray Bullet" replaces "Point Blank"

4. "Loose Ends" replaces "The Price You Pay"

5. "Meet Me In The City" replaces "I'm A Rocker"

6. "From Small Things" Big Things One Day Come replaces "Cadillac Ranch"

The final track list would be:

Side one
1. "The Ties That Bind"
2. "Sherry Darling"
3. "Where The Bands Are"
4. "Two Hearts"
5. "Independence Day"

Side two
1. "Hungry Heart"
2. "Out in the Street"
3. "Crush on You"
4. "Chain Lightning"
5. "I Wanna Marry You"
6. "The River"

Side three
1. "Stray Bullet"
2. "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)"
3. "Meet Me In The City"
4. "Fade Away"
5. "Stolen Car"

Side four
1. "Ramrod"
2. "Loose Ends"
3. "Drive All Night"
4. "Wreck on the Highway"

What would you have done differently? Let me know in the comment section below.


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