Below is a list of river/water themed songs to put you in a river-trip state of mind. It seems to be a theme in most of these songs that the river offers infinite possibilities, conjuring up feelings of rebirth and even nostalgia. Crank it up, and come see us in Ocoee. Let us know what the river means to you!
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This song was written by group leader John Fogerty, who explained in his Storytellersspecial: “Green River is really about where I used to go as a kid— Putah Creek in California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lots of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs.”
“Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (Tina Turner’s cover is also cool)
Have you ever wanted to quit your day job and travel down the river? Well, our friends at The Clymb pointed out that this song may be your anthem. The writers channel the power and determination of rivers through a chugging riff. Expressing a desire to leave city life, the singer wants to join a river-based community whose values are more akin to nature’s give-and-take-as-necessary attitude. The team at Outland is on board!
Tina Turner performing “Proud Mary” | Photo courtesy of Sheet Music Exchange
“What the Water Gave Me” by Florence + the Machine
Writer Florence Welch elaborated on the title and meaning of the song in an interview: “It’s a song for the water, because in music and art what I’m really interested in are the things that are overwhelming. The ocean seems to me to be nature’s ‘great overwhelmer.’ When I was writing this song, I was thinking a lot about all those people who’ve lost their lives in vain attempts to save their loved ones from drowning. It’s about water in all forms and all bodies.
“Tennessee River” by Alabama
A fiddle-heavy celebration of growing up near the Tennessee River (which flows fairly close to Alabama’s home base of Fort Payne), the song expresses the regrets of having gotten the urge to leave home, gratitude of the few times the singer gets to enjoy spending time by the river, and a desire to eventually settle down and raise a family in the river’s vicinity.
“I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island and T-Pain
Sure, this is a Saturday Night Live (SNL) parody of every excessive music video you’ve ever seen, but there’s something about shouting “I’m on a boat!” that really helps you get the party started. Beware, this song is NOT kid-friendly!
Photo courtesy of The Lonely Island
“Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow
When there’s not a cloud in the sky, slather on some sunscreen and turn up the volume on this summer anthem from 2002. And just in case the water doesn’t get everyone in your crew to relax, sing louder when Sheryl Crow tells “everyone to lighten up.”
“Take Me to the River” by Talking Heads
This song, at least the older soul version by Al Green, is not sung to a human lover, but to God, who washes him down in baptism and takes his money and cigarettes, in turning him from vice to virtue. The river refers to John’s baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
“Red River” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
This song finds Petty questioning blind faith as he sings of a woman who possesses both a rosary and a rabbit’s foot. “(‘Red River’) is not that deep,” Petty said. “I was having fun with the idea of this girl trying to find whatever it is she’s looking for, and she’s not sure what that is.”
Photo courtesy of Red River Music
“The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel
This is a very spiritual song where Joel, who identifies himself as an atheist, includes some biblical imagery, including the line, “Through the valley of fear,” which is a reference to Psalm 23:4 – “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Joel also says that the river is a religious image, as “there’s baptizing in a river and you have to cross the river – people are getting dunked in the river and there’s rivers of blood.” Deep stuff.
“Mouth of the River” by Imagine Dragons
The verses in this song tell a story of inadequacy. The singer makes it clear in “Mouth of the River” that they aren’t who they want to be. Imagine Dragons tells us, “I wanna live a life like that / Live the life of the faithful one.” Perhaps the band is realizing their own moral lacking and wishing to improve.
Honorable Mention: “The River Sings” by Enya
Whoa, it’s probably been a while since you played some Enya by a river, but maybe you’re overdue. Gaelic vocals over a galloping rhythm take listeners on a mysterious journey. She gets pretty deep with lines that translate to stuff like “the river sings the endlessness.”
Photo courtesy of Enya.com
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