Almanac Music: ‘We’d Go Down to the River’ – Songs Concerning Rivers


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Almanac Music: ‘We’d Go Down to the River’ – Songs Concerning Rivers


Hello, Almanackers!  A river can be such an evocative image, theme or concept in a creative work, whatever kind of work one is writing about. This week’s piece in my ongoing series about key popular song themes involves songs that in some way concern rivers, the guiding principle being that the word ‘river’ appears in the song title or in the lyrics.


So, dear readers, please put your relevant songs in the ‘Comments’ section. Below, as usual, are some examples from me to get things going.


‘River Deep, Mountain High’, written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich, performed by Tina Turner (1966)


‘And do I love you, my oh my / Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord, (river deep, Lord, mountain high)…’






Take Me Home, Country Roads’, written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver, performed by John Denver (1971)


‘Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…’






‘The River’, written and performed by Bruce Springsteen (1980)


‘We’d go down to the river / And into the river we’d dive / Oh, down to the river we’d ride…’






‘When the River Runs Dry’, Hunters and Collectors, written by Mark Seymour, John Archer, Doug Falconer, Robert Miles, Jeremy Smith, Michael Waters, John Howard, performed by Hunters and Collectors (1989)


‘When the river runs dry / You will return to the scene of the crime…’







‘The River of Dreams’, written and performed by Billy Joel (1993)


‘In the middle of the night / I go walking in my sleep / From the mountains of faith / To the river so deep…’





‘Cool River’, written by Kate McGarrigle and Audrey Bean, performed by Kate and Anna McGarrigle (feat. Lily Lanken & Martha Wainwright) (1998)


‘Cool river, wash my tears away…’









Now, wonderful readers / listeners – over to you. Your responses to this topic are warmly welcomed. In the ‘Comments’ section, please add your own choice of a song (or songs) concerning rivers, along with any other relevant material you wish to include.


[Note: Wikipedia has been a good general reference for this piece, particularly in relation to checking dates and other details.]



Read more from Kevin Densley HERE


Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws…I’m Feeling Too Indolent, is available HERE


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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Moon River – by many
    Watching the River Flow – Bob Dylan
    My Brown Yarra – Whirling Furphies
    Proud Mary – CCR

  2. Celtic punk:
    “Broad Majestic Shannon” – The Pogues (one of Macgowan’s greatest compositions).
    “Streams of Whiskey” – The Pogues

    “Green River” – CCR,
    “River” – Joni Mitchell,
    “Cry Me A River” – Justin Timberlake
    “Take Me To The River” – Talking Heads version
    “Rivers of Babylon” – Boney M
    “Many Rivers to Cross” – Linda Ronstadt version

    “Bow River” – Cold Chisel
    “The River Is Wide” – Weddings Parties Anything
    “The River Song” – Paul Kelly

  3. Karl Dubravs says

    Here we go again! Great video clip selection Kevin. Not only is Bruce’s ‘The River’ right on song but also my ‘go to’ river song.
    I’ll open with: There’s beauty in the silver, singin’ river – Tomorrow Is A Long Time

  4. Hmm, where do we put ONJ’s classic, The Banks of the Ohio?

    Many rivers flow into lakes, so to start the ball rolling here’s a classic lake song:

    On the Banks of the old Ponchartrain. Hank Williams could certainly write a song.


  5. “Old Man River” – Paul Robeson
    “Yellow River” – Christie

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Cry Me A River – Joe Cocker
    Yellow River – Autumn
    Yarra Song – Billy Bragg
    It Must Be A River – Billy Bragg
    Down By The River – Neil Young
    River of Money – Go-Betweens
    London Calling – Clash
    Big River – Johnny Cash
    (He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River – TISM

    Col, I prefer the Brady Bunch version of Proud Mary

  7. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Col, for opening the batting in relation to this ‘big’ theme. Nicely done, in terms of your selections.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Smokie. A fine range of classic material here. In my present mood, ‘The River is Wide’ by WPA is jumping out at me, for some unknown reason.

  9. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Karl. Glad you like the video clip selection – it’s always enjoyable to put together. Thanks for your song selection, too.

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Glen. ‘The Banks of the Ohio’ certainly gets a guernsey. Thank you, also, for the Hank Williams number.

    Thanks, Anon, for your two choices, too.

  11. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Swish, for your interesting, varied bunch of selections. To choose just one for comment – yes, in ‘London Calling’ living ‘by the river’ is certainly important.

  12. DBalassone says

    John Fogerty/Creedence rule the rivers. Some already mentioned above. I’m quite fond of the John Fogerty/Blue Ridge Rangers swampy cover of ‘Moody River’. A superb piece of work.

  13. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, DB, for your input on the river theme. I certainly agree that Fogerty/Creedence are right up there when it comes to songs concerning rivers.

  14. There was a band called “Styx” I believe.

  15. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, as well as The Supremes and The Temptations. In the lyrics, “Ain’t No River Wide Enough”.

    “Down By The Riverside”, Louis Armstrong.

  16. “Two Strong Hearts” – John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John. In the lyrics, “Reaching out forever like the river to the sea”.

  17. River of Love – The Spikes

  18. Rick Kane says

    River, Leon Bridges
    Pissing in a River, Patti Smith
    Stuck Between Stations, The Hold Steady
    Like a River, My Morning Jacket
    Like a River, Kasey Chambers

  19. Kevin Densley says

    Yep, Anson. American band Styx began in the early seventies, and after various ups and downs are still going in some form to this day.

  20. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Anon, for your latest contributions. Good to see Satchmo get a guernsey, especially.

    And thanks, Willo, for ‘River of Love’ by the Adelaide band, The Spikes (c.1983-86, then early 1990s) – good, energetic stuff!

  21. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Rick, for your latest, wonderfully eclectic bunch.

  22. Rick Kane says

    And there’s more:

    Cool Water, Sons of the Pioneers and countless others including Marty Robbins, Hank Williams and The Replacements)
    Cry, Cry, Cry, Johnny Cash
    Harlem River Blues, Justin Townes Earle
    Many Rivers to Cross, Jimmy Cliff
    River, Jason Isbell

  23. Karl Dubravs says

    Hey KD
    Dylan’s a bit sparse on the ‘river’ theme but on his latest album (Rough & Rowdy Ways), he was last seen ‘Crossing The Rubicon’:
    The killing frost is on the ground
    And the autumn leaves are gone
    I lit the torch, I looked to the east
    And I crossed the Rubicon

  24. River of No Return – Tennessee Ernie Ford
    River Lady – Roger Whittaker
    Angeleyes – ABBA

  25. Running Bear – Johnny Preston.
    Who was the Tall dark Stranger there – Maverick TV theme.
    A Russian Love Song – The Goons.
    Elderly Man River – Stan Freberg.

  26. Rick Kane says

    Blues on the River, Joe Strummer
    Rivers of Babylon, The Melodians
    A Feather’s not a Bird, Rosanne Cash
    River of Happiness, Dolly Parton
    Down where the River Bends, Dwight Yoakum
    River of Sorrow, Charlie Crockett
    River of No Return, Marilyn Monroe
    Lost on the River, Hank
    Dry River Bed and Riverman, Pigram Brothers
    Rock Salt and Nails, Tyler Childers

  27. Liam Hauser says

    River runs red: Midnight Oil
    One more river: James Reyne
    Find the river: R.E.M.
    Lift me up: Jeff Lynne
    Dreaming of 4000: Electric Light Orchestra
    Steppin’ out: Electric Light Orchestra
    (Got to keep) open: Crosby Stills and Nash
    Lucy in the sky with diamonds: Beatles

  28. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you Rick, for your latest two sets of selections. As usual, I particularly enjoyed the country focus of much of the material. Further, I’ll pick out what may be called a ‘curiosity’ among your choices – Marilyn Monroe’s ‘River of No Return’, which I recall as as a good song, well sung, from a goodish Western of the same name she starred in with Robert Mitchum.

  29. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Karl, for your Dylan song from his latest album.

  30. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Fisho, for your latest two bunches of songs. Interestingly, among them, is a different version of ‘River of No Return’ to the Monroe one.

  31. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Liam, for your choices. (I’d forgotten about the ‘boat on a river’ line in ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, incidentally.)

  32. Rick Kane says

    Sorry KD but river songs are flowing through me (bad pun intended). Great theme and again top shelf calls from you and Almanacers. Love the REM song Liam called. Annon”s Louis Armstrong call as well but who can go past Green River by CCR, called by Smokie. It’s as good as a song can get. From my last list, the Rosanne Cash song is a killer.

    Here’s some more:

    Ode to Billy Joe, Bobbie Gentry
    The Sea Refuses No River, Pete Townsend
    The Beautiful River of Life, Tom T
    Railroads and Riverboats, Jim Croce
    Music City Queen, Miranda Lambert & The B-52s
    African Summer, Dave Warner’s from the Suburbs *guest speaker at Almanac lunch next Friday, be there or be not
    and (drum roll please) Paradise, John Prine *includes a reference to Green River ?


  33. Mickey Randall says

    As featured in and popularised by Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? by the magnificent Coen brothers, Down To The River To Pray by Alison Krauss. The song is from about 1867. Other versions by Lead Belly and Arlo Guthrie.

  34. Karl Dubravs says

    Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River (well worth a listen – trust me :))

  35. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks yet again, Rick – so glad those river songs are flowing through you and out into this discussion!

  36. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Mickey, for your beautiful song selection.

    And thanks again, Karl, for your addition!

  37. Karl Dubravs says

    Arlo’s version was titled ‘Valley To Pray’
    His Washington County album also includes a fine ‘Animal Song’ for a previous thread – Lay Down Little Doggies (wriiten by Woody)…and also includes a rare cover of Dylan’s ‘Percy’s Song’.
    The album was very well received in Australia, peaking at 28 on the charts (compared to 33 in the USA)

  38. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Karl, for these comments – love the detail!

  39. The Battle of New Orleans – Johnny Horton
    Green Fields – The Brothers Four
    The Blue Bottle Blues (Climb on the plank son, on the river bank son) – The Goons, probably Neddy Seagoon (Harry Secombe).

  40. Here’s a few about the River Murray
    Song of the Murray River – Stan Koster
    The Great Murray River – Mahony Brothers
    The Murray and Me – Craig Stewart
    The Murray River Song – Louey Hesterman

  41. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Fisho, for this interesting trio of selections. ‘The Battle of New Orleans’ by Johnny Horton has long been a favourite of mine.

  42. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, also, Fisho, for your Murray River quartet of songs. Fine, interesting work! I wonder how many more songs there are about Australian Rivers – quite a few, I imagine.

  43. Karl Dubravs says

    John Williamson does a few Aussie river songs:
    Diamantina Drover – beautifully conceived & sung
    Three Rivers Hotel (although not named, there is the Burdekin River 2 horizons up the road & it’s tributary. Grey Creek. a horizon closer
    Murrumbidgee Madness (not to be confused with Military Madness)

  44. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks for these, Karl.

    Another Oz one: ‘River Song’ by Archie Roach – beautiful.

  45. Good call on actual rivers. The Swan gets mentioned in the Warner song. And yes to the Archie song. Here’s some more rivery songs:

    Down the River, Frank Yamma (if you don’t know his work, get on it, topshelf)
    Spare Parts, Bruce (young single mother overwhelmed by the responsibility takes her young child down to the river to …)
    Seeds, Bruce (people left unemployed and homeless after the Texas oilfields close down)
    Matamoros Banks, Bruce (migrants trying to cross the river to get to the US)
    Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, Pete Seeger (great song about bad leadership)
    The Big Muddy, Bruce (not his finest)

  46. “Down By The River”, by Albert Hammond, which has different lyrics to the previously mentioned “Down By The River”, by Neil Young.

    Speaking of Albert Hammond, his signature song “It Never Rains In Southern California”, which doesn’t mention a river, has always been one of my favourite songs.

  47. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Rick, for your latest comments and song choices – there’s certainly fine work in terms of these selections. Really liked the Frank Yamma song, and, well, Bruce is the wonderful Bruce. Pete Seeger’s iconic, too, of course

    Here’s a couple more Oz-connected ones: ‘Flash Jack from Gundagai’, where the Barcoo and the Lachlan Rivers are mentioned, and ‘Mad Jack’s Cockatoo’, written and performed by Slim Dusty and His Bushlanders, which deals with the Barcoo.

  48. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, yet again, Anon – I particularly like the detail in your comments.

  49. It might be stretching things KD, but the Barcoo, is also mentioned in the great Banjo Paterson poem, A Bush Christening which has been turned into song by Wallis and Matilda, so does it squeeze in? Cheers

  50. In the meantime here’s even more River toons:

    Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow, Archie Roach
    By the River’s Dark, Leonard Cohen
    River of Fools, Los Lobos
    River, Courtney Barnett
    Cuyahoga, REM

  51. Peter Crossing says

    Proud Mary
    The intro to the brilliant Solomon Burke version defines the very essence of the song. Wonderful backing by the Muscle Shoals gang.
    And to see Tina Turner do her version live (Adelaide 1975) was something else.
    Love the aforementioned Dry River Bed (Pigram Brothers) and Many Rivers to Cross (Jimmy Cliff).
    Plenty of mentions of rivers in lyrics.
    Powderfinger – Neil Young (Look out Mama, there’s a white boat comin’ up the river).
    The unfortunately prescient Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire (Even the Jordan River has bodies floating)
    And so it goes.

  52. Kevin Densley says

    Sure, Rick, the Paterson adaptation by Wallis and Matilda gets a guernsey. I think the euphonious sound of the word ‘Barcoo’ has been a major reason for this river being mentioned/utilized in numerous songs. Another to note in this context is the Slim Dusty recorded (written by Stan Coster) ‘Catching Yellowbelly (In The Old Barcoo)’. It’s a fun, witty song in which Slim does some fine yodelling.

    Thank you, also, for more river song choices.

  53. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Peter C, for your comments – interesting, relevant and nicely detailed material.

  54. Karl Dubravs says

    Revisiting the world’s great rivers:
    Madness do a very ‘Madness’ style video (do they know any other way) of Night Boat To Cairo (which features the River Nile)
    The Band, in it’s post Robbie Robertson/Richard Manuel form, does a sensitive song titled Amazon (River Of Dreams).

  55. Kevin Densley says

    Excellent, Karl – interesting angle (‘world’s great rivers’) on the topic.

  56. As per Rick Kane, Frank Yamma

  57. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, David. As I indicated to Rick earlier in this discussion, I really like the Frank Yamma song ‘Down the River’.

  58. Rick Kane says

    As per Bridie, he introduced me to Frank Yamma, literally. At Port Fairy, ten or so years back. We enjoyed a beer and a good chat, then took in his gig and was blown away, with his voice, measured delivery and the songs. It’s always the songs!

  59. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the personal detail, Rick. Always interesting to hear this kind of connection.

  60. Some more songs about rivers, both the physical and the metaphorical, songs with allusions to rivers and songs much deeper than they appear. All of them fine songs indeed.

    Live Forever, Billy Joe Shaver
    Kern River, Merle H
    Miss the Mississippi and You, Jimmie Rodgers (and 100s of others)
    Worried Man Blues, The Carter Family
    Till the Rivers all Run Dry, Don Williams
    Floater (Too Much to Ask), Dylan

  61. Kevin Densley says

    Love the new river depths being plumbed, Rick!

    Let’s also include ‘Yanada’ by The Preatures in our fine list, a fine Oz song with strong Indigenous aspects.

  62. Dave Nadel says

    I’ve been away at the Port Fairy Folk Festival (hence the late entry and also the folk orientation.)
    Woody Guthrie – Roll on Columbia Roll
    Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (“she gets you on her wavelength And she lets the river answer”) I heard Judy Collins sing this on Saturday
    Irene Petrie – Coonawarra has Three Shadows (A song about Murray River Paddle steamers on an album I bought in 1984)
    Gordon Franklin and the Wilderness Ensemble (Actually Goanna plus a few other musicians) – Let the Franklin Flow
    Don Henderson – Put a Light in Every Country Window (A hymn to electrification which mentions the Snowy River Scheme)
    Possibly more later.

  63. Dave Nadel says

    Woody’s song is actually Roll On Columbia Roll On

  64. Karl Dubravs says

    Dick Tracy would say ‘Hold Everything!’

    James Bay would sing: ‘Hold Back The River’

  65. Rick Kane says

    Hey Dave, hope Port Fairy was a blast. Your suggestions reminded me of another right in front of my face pick, Three Rivers Hotel by Slim Dusty.


  66. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Dave N, for your song choices. I liked your mention of the Port Fairy Folk Festival, too. I recall singing and playing in their songwriting competition a few decades ago, on a couple of occasions. (Incidentally, I had my best ever burgers at the Port Fairy Festival, too [circa 1995] – shark and abalone burgers from a stall run by an aboriginal co-op.)

    Thank you again to Karl and Rick.

  67. Dave Nadel says

    Hi Kevin, Sadly they discontinued the song writing competition a few years ago. I don’t know why, it was an interesting part of the Festival.

    Hi Rick, Port Fairy was great, despite the heat. Amongst the international acts the two stand outs were Graham Nash, both for his songs and his comments between songs, and Ralph McTell who did two one hour sets and the only song he repeated was Streets of London. At 79 his voice and his finger picking are as good as they were when I first heard him live in 1975. My two favourite local performances were both Country, Fanny Lumsden and a duo called The Pleasures (Catherine Britt and Lachlan Bryan).

  68. Frank perich says

    Coming in late. Lot to plough through so Hope got this solitary offering.
    River of Salt by Ketty Lester and later Bryan Ferry.
    As a side note also title of book by our Dave Warner.

  69. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Frank. Many thanks for your song offering. The river songlist we’ve compiled is among our best yet, I reckon – and we’re not finished yet!

  70. Luke Reynolds says

    Hole in the River- Crowded House

  71. Has anyone mentioned “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” by Chris de Burgh ?

  72. Or “Ferry Across the Mersey” for that matter ?

  73. Rick Kane says

    Good call Smokie, re Ferry Cross the Mersey!

    Here are my latest (haven’t checked if they have already been cited KD becuase the list is huge!):

    River in the Rain, Roger Miller, yep, that one – from his 80s musical about Huck Finn
    River Roll On, The Judds – great mother/daughter duo from the 80s, harmonies to die for and they weren’t besties.
    Louisiana 1927, Randy Newman – can’t believe I forgot about this stunning RN song, he’s top of the tree
    River in Reverse, Little Elvis and Allen Toussaint – one of the few excellent Little Elvis songs from the second half of his career
    In the Mississippi River, Mavis Staples – powerful protest song about, yep racism, very sad song

  74. Dave Nadel says

    Albert Hammond – Down by the River (different song to the Neil Young one)
    John Prine – Paradise (“down by the Green River where Paradise lay”)
    The Highwaymen – Big River
    Jack O’Hagan – Along the Road to Gundagai (“Where the blue gums are growing And the Murrumbidgee’s flowing”)
    Troy Casser-Daley – River Boy
    Christy Moore – Only Our Rivers Run Free
    Redgum – Diamantina Drover
    Jane Clifton, The Bushwackers and others – Weevils in the Flower. A very powerful poem by Dorothy Hewett about Newcastle (on the Hunter River) during the Great Depression set to music by Mike Leyden. (“On an island by a river, how that bitter river ran”)
    Apologies if some of these have already been mentioned, like Rick I find the list two long to check.

  75. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Luke, for putting forward the haunting ‘Hole in the River’ – sounds as much like earlyish Split Enz as it does Crowded House.

  76. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you for your two newies, Smokie.

  77. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Rick, for your latest batch – as far as can I see (and I did have a pretty thorough look), they are all new to the list.

  78. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Dave – most of the songs you’ve mentioned are new to our impressive list.

  79. And they’re still coming!

    The Rose, Bette Midler – it might only reference rivers in the opening couplet but it really does set the scene
    Beaches on the Thames, Sarah Carton – reflection of life during the pandemic
    The River, Liam Gallagher – another meat n potatoes rock n roll song by Oasis guy, and I can’t quite understand what the river reference is to the song’s core rant, I mean message
    (She’s a) River, Patty Griffin – what a moving song, from a great album and an artist that hasn’t released a dud record over 30 years.
    #9 Dream, John Lennon – even during his lost weekend or years he could still create mesmerising toons like this

  80. Kevin Densley says

    Glad you’re still ‘dipping into the river’, Rick! It’s definitely a revivifying thing to do.

    And how about ‘(Up A) Lazy River’ by Bobby Darin (and numerous others).

  81. “Riverdance”, by Bill Whelan and Anuna, featuring the RTE Concert Orchestra.
    It originated as an interval act during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest 1994 featuring Irish dancing champions Jean Butler, Michael Flatley and the vocal ensemble Anuna.

    We are now about 3 sixes away from the Almanac Music Readers Team’s 3rd century of the season. This is where we need our big hitters (big hits) to come to the fore and be the finishers to another very good innings.

  82. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your latest selection, Anon.

    Yes, dear readers, let’s keep the river flowing / this current innings going!

  83. I kid you not, just listening to a few songs and albums last night another 4 songs re rivers played. They’ll be in my next batch. For now, soak up these:

    Bathe in the River, Hollie Smith and Mt Raskil Preservation Society – NZ entry and beautiful song/singer
    Orinoco Flow, Enya – how did we leave this out (or did we, I might have missed it)
    Red River Valley, Marty Robbins – wow! Man, he can sing a heartbreak can’t he
    Rio Grande, Dave Alvin – if you don’t know Dave Alvin or his old 80s band, The Blasters do yerself the proverbial!
    You and Tennessee, Johnny Cash – from one of Johnny’s mid 60s albums, okay but not great, but it does mention the Cumberland River!

  84. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Rick. There’s still plenty of fine river songs out there, isn’t that true? Thanks for your latest bunch – yes, how did we miss ‘Orinoco Flow’ or songs like ‘Red River Valley’?

    Of course, another old river classic is ‘I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)’, written by Johnny Mercer, and recorded by Bing Crosby and numerous others.

  85. “My Dirty Stream (The Hudson River Song)”, by Pete Seeger. In the lyrics, “My Hudson River will once again run clear”.

  86. “New York State of Mind”, by Billy Joel.
    In the lyrics:
    “But I’m taking a Greyhound
    On the Hudson River Line”
    and “Don’t care if it’s Chinatown or up on Riverside”.

  87. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Anon. Thanks for your latest contributions. They’ve made me reflect upon the major extent to which the identity of so many countries and cities is linked to their big (and sometimes not so big) rivers.

    Just thought of another river song – ‘Oliver’s Army’, written by Elvis Costello, and performed by Costello and the Attractions: ‘…boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne…’

  88. Dave Nadel says

    Stars – Last of the River Boats (also Jimmy Barnes’ version of the song at the Andy Durant Memorial Concert)
    Dominic Behan – Down By the Liffeyside
    Do Canals count as Rivers? If so?
    The Pogues, The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers and god knows how many other Irish folksingers – The Auld Triangle (“And that auld triangle went jingle-jangle All along the banks of the Royal Canal”)
    Ralph McTell – Barges
    Pete Seeger – The Erie Canal

  89. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Dave, for your new material.

    The basic difference between a canal and a river, according to my reading, is that a canal is made by humans, whereas a river is a work of nature. That’s good enough for me. So there’s clarity in this discussion, let’s stick to that.

  90. ‘Whiskey River’, by Willie Nelson.

  91. “Blue River”, by Elvis Presley.

  92. “Fox on the Run”, by Manfred Mann.
    In the lyrics, “She worked through the corn leading down to the river”.

  93. “The River” (2016), by Delta Goodrem

  94. “River” (2023), by Miley Cyrus.

  95. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Anon – you’ve certainly been busy in relation to river songs!

  96. Another set of Rivery toons:

    This Hard Land, Bruce – one of Springsteen’s best unreleased songs.
    Coastal Confessions, Jimmy Buffett – mostly he’s a beaches and oceans kinda guy but there’s a river in this one!
    Different Boats, Hayes Carll – get onto Hayes he’s the real deal.
    The River Song, Donovan and …

    Summer of Blood, Dave Warner. That’s right, his latest release, which he played at the Almanac launch yesterday. Song and launch were A1 on the jukebox.


  97. Kevin Densley says

    Great, Rick. Thanks so much for these additions to a brilliant list.

  98. Kevin Densley says

    And no-one has previously mentioned ‘Oh England’, My Lionheart’ by Kate Bush, a beautiful song that contains the lines: ‘You read me Shakespeare on the rolling Thames / That old river poet that never, ever ends…’

  99. Dave Nadel says

    If you are going to mention the Thames……
    Ewan McColl – Sweet Thames Flow Softly
    The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (“Dirty old river, must you keep rolling Flowing into the night?” and later in the song (“Terry and Julie cross over the river Where they feel safe and sound”)
    The Dubliners – McAlpine’s Fusiliers
    Elton John – Across the River Thames

  100. I have decided to bring up the Almanac Music Readers 2nd consecutive century, following the songs about home, houses and rooms and the 3rd century of the season, in addition to songs concerning animals.
    Congratulations to everyone involved.

    “The River Unbroken”, by Dolly Parton

  101. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Dave, for your latest additions. To pick out just one for comment – isn’t ‘Waterloo Sunset’ a definitive song of the sixties or perhaps even the entire rock/pop era?

  102. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Anon, for playing a major role in our latest century.

  103. Liam Hauser says

    Delta: Crosby Stills and Nash

  104. Rick Kane says

    In the clubhouse we’re standing up applauding Dave Nadal’s Waterloo Sunset call (agree with KD, the finest or one of, in history of rocknroll). How the hell was that missed over 95+ calls. Masterful, shot of the innings, maybe the tournament.

    My contribution, if it ain’t already been called:

    Floater (Too Much to Ask), Dylan

  105. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Liam, for your latest song choice – a fine one, indeed.

    Great pick, too, Rick, in relation to Dylan’s ‘Floater (Too Much To Ask’): ‘They went down the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee / All the rest of them rebel rivers…’

  106. Dave Nadel says

    Waterloo Sunset has been one of my favourite songs since I first heard it in1967. I don’t know if it is the definitive song of the sixties but it is certainly the definitive song of London in the sixties. When I finally got to London in 1973 I made a point of walking across Waterloo Bridge.

    There was a story that the choice of names of the two young people were inspired by Terence Stamp and Julie Christie. I have never read anything from Ray Davies confirming this and actually Terry and Julie were pretty common names for kids born in the late 40s and early 50s. I went to school with lots of Terrys and Julies.

  107. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your additional input in connection with ‘Waterloo Sunset’, Dave. I enjoy reading material like this.

  108. Karl Dubravs says

    Firstly, KD, what I love about comments in this post is that it has introduced me to:
    The Spikes – Colour In A Black Forest album (listening to it now & lovin’ it!)
    Frank Yamma – wow, what a singer/songwriter that somehow has sailed under my radar for the past 20+ years. I feel quite disappointed not to have heard of him before, but quite delighted to now appreciate his talent.

    Secondly, I have scoured the comments on this post – up/down & back again (twice) and offer a previously unmentioned river song:
    Paul Simon – Peace Like A River

    Congrats on another century….the selectors won’t be questioning your position in the team for some time yet!

  109. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Karl. Thanks so much for your input along the way to this latest century – and for your general positivity!

  110. Rick Kane says

    Still flowing …

    Dream River, The Mavericks
    Dry River, James McMurtry
    Stone River, Robbie Fulks
    Oklahoma, Dave Warner (the line with a river reference – first couplet of the song – is actually taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear)
    Red River Shore, Bob

    And I meant to note this way back at the start of this innings, great call by Karl D re the Bob song, Tomorow is a Long Time – and Bob’s fave cover of any of his songs is Elvis singing Tomorrow. Boy, does Elvis sing it beautifully.


  111. Karl Dubravs says

    It’s kinda strange how things work in this universe – is it fate, destiny, coincidence, chance or as Forrest would say (rephrased) – ‘maybe it’s all four, at the same time’?
    I continue my ‘insane’ but driven pursuit of Dylan covers and this evening I come across a reference to The Waterboys doing a live version of a ‘This Is The Sea/New Morning’ medley. I check it out…..
    Just so happens that ‘This Is The Sea’ has the most magnificent – and post relevant – couplet:
    ‘That was the river
    This is the sea’

  112. Kevin Densley says

    Thank for your latest material, Rick and Karl. Excellent input!

    Don’t think anyone has mentioned ‘Take Me to the River’, a much covered Al Green and Mabon “Teenie” Hodges song – I know it primarily via the Talking Heads version (1978).

  113. Karl Dubravs says

    Just listening to Leon Redbone’s version of Mississippi River Blues.
    I don’t think the song has been mentioned and it seems to fit the theme :).

    An unrelated side-story goes that Redbone met Dylan at the 1972 Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto. Dylan was so impressed by Redbone that he is quoted as saying: if I had ever started a label, I would have signed him.

    Good call on Talking Head’s – Take Me To The River. Amazing it hadn’t been mentioned in the first 110 posts.

  114. Kevin Densley says

    Interesting material, Karl.

    Our river runneth over!

  115. Rick Kane says

    Wow, how did Take Me to the River (Al Green) go missing? That revved me up. For one last shot. Here we go:

    Travelling Riverside Blues, Robert Johnson (yep, another we missed, to be fair I just presumed it was in there)

    And two songs from Ireland:

    How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead (who cares)
    My Lagan Love, Van the Man with The Chieftains (covered by everyone but this is a bit of a fave)


  116. Karl Dubravs says

    How about these 2: – better late than never ¬¬¬

    Old Folks At Home (aka Swanee River) -written by Stephen Foster, sung by many
    Everybody Knows (The River Song) by O.V. Wright

  117. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you yet again, Rick and Karl – this river theme has certainly yielded so many fine song choices!

  118. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, by the Beatles (“Picture yourself in a boat on a river”)

  119. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Anon – Liam Hauser has already mentioned ‘Lucy’, considerably earlier.

  120. “Australiana”, by Austen Tayshus (“Do you want to have a dip in the river, Ina?)

  121. “River of Maribyrnong”, (2016) by Greg Campion, song parody to “Rivers of Babylon”, by Boney M.
    (“By the river of Maribyrnong, where we sat down
    Yeah we wept, when we remembered Bob Murphy”).
    He sang this song to pay tribute to the Western Bulldogs captain, Bob Murphy, who in 2016, did an anterior cruciate ligament during the home and away season, meaning that he would miss the rest of the football season, and retire immediately, missing his team’s premiership in that year.

  122. Kevin Densley says

    ‘River of Maribyrnong’, by Champs – wonderful!

  123. “Gypsy Queen”, by Adam Harvey (“Singing for the rivers and the seas”)

  124. Kevin Densley says

    Yep, another one for our river theme – thanks, Anon!

  125. Karl Dubravs says

    Hey KD – I thought I’d bring up the 125 (not sure if that is significant, but it should be!)
    Someone asked me if Kev Carmody had done any Dylan covers – the answer is ‘no’.
    But he did do a brilliant song relevant to this post, which I don’t think has been mentioned before:
    River Of Tears

  126. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Karl, for the Carmody song – good pickup, there!

  127. Liam Hauser says

    A hazy shade of winter: Simon and Garfunkel (includes the lyrics Down by the riverside).

  128. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Liam – great to see the river (theme) is still a-flowin’!

  129. “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, by Elvis Presley (“Like a river flows surely to the sea”)

  130. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Anon, for this one by the King.

  131. “The Things We Do For Love”, by 10cc (“Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river.”)
    There was also a television advertisement jingle for Morley Ford (“Come with me to Morley Ford, down by the riverside.”)

  132. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the song and the jingle, Anon – both on the money.

  133. Karl Dubravs says

    Hey KD
    Talking about LZIII & rivers and ‘That’s The Way’, here’s an addition to this topic:
    ‘And yesterday I saw you standing by the river,
    And weren’t those tears that filled your eyes,’

  134. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Karl – good pickup there!

  135. Karl Dubravs says

    Hey KD
    2 months later, the river flows on……I did a quick scan & this looks like a new song to the list

    Richard Pleasance – Galleon (1991): what a sensational album!
    The River Of Love – what a sensational song!

  136. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Karl – like many of the big themes, especially, the river is one that keeps on giving!

  137. Many months late to this party, but I saw it pop up in the comments, and after commenting on ‘Moon’ felt obliged to help out with a few more here (pretty sure they’re not already listed above) …

    Running Bear – Stiff Little Fingers (Fisho has the original, but this live cover is great fun)
    Bathe in the Rover – Hollie Smith + the Mt Raskil Preservation Society (was a NZ #1 for several weeks!)
    The River – PJ Harvey (how was this missed?)
    The River – Tim Buckley (ditto?)
    The River – Greg Johnson (popular title, this one’s by another NZ muso)
    River – Dragon (not their best, but another NZ band…)
    Moody River – Blackeyed Susans

    Bessie Smith – Back-Water Blues (about the Xmas-day Cumberland River flood)
    Damn the River – Phoenix Foundation
    That Was the River – Waterboys
    Muddy Waters – Johnny Cash
    Mad Man Blues – John Lee Hooker
    (“I’m gonna take you down by the riverside/Hang you up my baby, by your neck”)

    By This River – Brian Eno
    Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Down by the Riverside
    Buzzcocks – Do It
    (“I can do it, do it, do it, till the morning comes/ Like the river fills the sea”)
    Lazy River – Louis Armstrong
    Out of Town – Skids – whom I saw last night here in Auckland!
    (“Weeping by the river, now watch how it blends/But listen to the ripples, now watch how it descends”)

    Black Dreams – by NZ band Hello Sailor
    (“From the Melbourne Yarra river/I fail to deliver/My body shake and shiver/I’m all in a quiver/
    Cause of black dreams/Black dreams”)

    Voices of Freedom – Lou Reed
    (“A river runs right down through those mountains (voices of freedom)/And it reduces that rock to stone (voices of freedom)/The ocean reduces that stone to sand/Well, it’s the voices of freedom, hey hey”)

    BONUS: 13 Rivers – a great album by Richard Thompson, who says the title is because “there are 13 songs on the record, and each one is like a river. Some flow faster than others”

  138. P.S. And then there’s the haunting wee song ‘Rivertowns’ by Australian band The Mime Set, from their album ‘I’ve Only Ever Lived in River Towns.’ (“Rivers take the path of least resistance…”)

  139. Kevin Densley says

    Excellent material, Peter. You’ve given us a lot to listen to and think about here.

    And no matter how long a theme-related songlist is, we’ve found from extensive past experience that it’s not unusual for something seemingly obvious to be left out.

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