Maureen and I were very lucky to have front row center seats for the premiere showing of “The Ties that Bind: The River Collection”, a documentary on the events surrounding the making of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” album. The event was hosted by The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, along with Monmouth University Center for the Arts and Backstreets.com
The film was introduced by its director, Grammy and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny, who stayed to do a Q&A with the audience following the screening. Following the Q&A, Zimny stayed to screen an hour-long preview edit of the concert film “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: The River Tour, Tempe 1980”. The concert was filmed at the University of Arizona in Tempe and was presented in surround sound mixed by Bob Clearmountain.
The documentary featured a very candid and thoughtful Springsteen reminiscing about his thought processes, both personal and musical, as a man in his early thirties during the making of “The River” album. Zimny captures these interviews with close-ups of Springsteen at home, both outdoors and in his kitchen, affable and relaxed. We are able to clearly see the expressions on Springsteen’s face as he expresses his doubts and struggles in bringing his vision to fruition in the studio.
One little tidbit I especially enjoyed…During his interviews, Springsteen confirmed something I was always pretty sure of….one of my favorite Springsteen tunes, “Out in the Street”, was a conscious rewrite of ” Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats, which was also a favorite of mine back in the 60’s.
As I told director Zimny after the screenings, “This film is a work of art within a work of art”. The audience agreed. The end of the film was met with a thundering standing ovation as Zimny walked onstage to begin his Q&A session.
Both of these films will be included in the upcoming “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection”, which will be released worldwide on December 4, 2015. Additionally, the documentary will premiere on HBO on November 27.
The screening was attended by many Springsteen associates, among them were photographers Frank Stefanko and Danny Clinch. Backstreets.com publisher and Editor Chris Phillips co-hosted and facilitated the Q&A session.
Maureen and I had a nice conversation with Zimny after the screenings. Maureen was curious about the seeming naturalness of the interviews and asked Zimny if Bruce’s surroundings were arranged for filming. Zimny confirmed that everything was just what it seemed and Bruce’s kitchen and yard were exactly as they were found.
We also discovered we had some mutual acquaintances and influences, including Joel Bernstein and Albert Maysles, who was a major influence on Zimny’s approach to documentary filmmaking.
My advice is to not miss the documentary on HBO later this month.