HBO is giving the Boss’ breakthrough 1980 record The River the making-of documentary treatment. Called The Ties That Bind, after the record’s lead single, the doc delves into the story of how Bruce Springsteen wrote and recorded classics like Hungry Heart, Cadillac Ranch, and Out In the Street and performed them for international audiences.
Thom Zimny, the Emmy-winning filmmaker who already has two other Springsteen making-of docs for HBO under his belt (2014’s High Hopes, and 2010’s The Promise), is director and executive producer for the latest project.
“Filmmaker Thom Zimny showcases Springsteen’s first-person take on his writing process,” said HBO. “Offering an in-depth discussion on the origins of key tracks from his first double album, Springsteen shares how they were developed, from the notebook page to the studio to, most viscerally, the concert stage.”
Zimny further explained to Rolling Stone that he used The River to explore themes that interested the 30-year-old Springsteen at the time, like marriage. “The film is a dialogue with Bruce, but one of the surprising things about it is that it’s really as much a ‘making of’ as much as a personal journey.”
The doc will feature previously unreleased archival footage from the tour, more than 100 photographs from his recording sessions with the E Street Band, and unreleased demos and outtakes from the 14-month recording process. Rare and previously unheard demos on the doc include Stray Bullet, Chain Lightning, The Time That Never Was, Cindy, and Take ‘Em As They Come.
The legendary November 5, 1980 Springsteen concert at Arizona State University in Tempe ties the doc together.”The beauty of the Tempe concert, is that we have this amazing surround sound mixed by Bob Clearmountain,” explained Zimny to Rolling Stone. “I also had the opportunity to cut from four isolated cameras. It really gives an opportunity to let things play out and it’s not a line cut from the screens [in the concert hall].”
The Ties That Bind debuts Friday, November 27 at 9 p.m. on HBO.