Wednesday, May 23, 2007

15 Best Songs About Rivers

A slight edge was granted to songs about actual rivers, instead of those that used them only as a poetic device. Songs about canals were included as being somehow riverlike.

1. The Pogues, The Broad Majestic Shannon (A magical song, one of my absolute favorites.)

2. Woody Guthrie, The Grand Coulee Dam (Columbia River)

3. Johnny Cash, Big River (Mississippi River) Beating out Proud Mary and god knows how many others...

4. The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset (Thames River)

5. Brendan Behan, The Banks of the Royal Canal Discovered through Dylan's beautiful cover on the Basement Tapes.

6. Traditional, I Am a Pilgrim (Jordan River)

7. Sufjan Stevens, Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother! (Sangamon River)

8. Thomas Allen, Erie Canal

9. Traditional, Shenandoah (Missouri River)

10. Muddy Waters, Rollin' and Tumblin' (If the river was whiskey... Here we enter the realm of the poetic device - although maybe not.)

11. Radiohead, How to Disappear Completely (Liffey River)

12. Nick Drake, River Man

13. The Standells, Dirty Water (Charles River) One of the least convincing badboy anthems every recorded, making it the perfect song for Boston.

14. REM, Find the River (No actual river, but it deserves credit for mentioning more plants than any other song in recorded history.)

15. Ron Sexsmith, Riverbed (One of the world's greatest songwriters, and still rather underappreciated.)


John said...

The Erie Canal does not strike me as a river. What about Die Wacht am Rhein?

Sarah said...

Al Green's "Take me to the River" ?

John said...

Is "Take me to the River" about a specific river?

Sarah said...

no... it would fall in the river a as a poetic device category.

Matt K said...

Does "the river as poetic device" include the river as metaphor for heroin -- a la Neil Young's "Down By The River?"

And what about rivers as metaphors for cringe-worthy, aging-boomer soul-searching -- a la Billy Joel's "River Of Dreams." Unless maybe the "river so deep" refers to the Yangtze. I think first we'd have to locate the "desert of the truth" or perhaps the "valley of fear"...