Springsteen and The River breaks the dam
The River finally combined two bits that had eluded the Boss on previous albums: Both mass critical and commercial appeal. The public and critics were also very taken by the album and Springsteen. Rock's Backpages.com has one of my favourite quotes from the reviews, capturing the mood brilliantly.
"Listening to Bruce Springsteen's The River is like taking a trip through the rock and roll heartland as you've never experienced it. It's a walk down all the streets, all the places, all the people and all the souls that rock has ever visited, excited, cried for and loved."- Paolo Hewitt, Melody Maker
The River went down a storm and projected Springsteen fully among the top acts in the world. The album hit the number one spot on the Billboard 200 charts, his first such success. It's gone on to be certified quintuple platinum and one of Springsteen’s biggest sellers.
The soaring sales and popular acclaim all went a very long way to answer the earlier questions about him. The Boss was no longer the next Dylan, he was very much his own man. This is the key as Bruce Springsteen has never been one to try to outsell every other artist on the planet. He simply wanted to be respected for what he was trying to do musically and emotionally, just like his folk heroes, such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie.