5 Best River songs

River Danube
River Danube (Photo credit: Istvan)

I thought about this and I asked about this before writing. River songs are more personal than most; opinions are all over the place. The original idea was to write the 5 best and 5 worst but I am tossing that “worst” idea off the bridge. People were so heartfelt and responsive that I can’t risk putting one of their songs on a bad list and crushing it. River songs are often deep and intense and I have too much respect for all involved in this process.

Almost made the cut:

Blackwater- The Doobie Brothers… The River- Bruce Springsteen… …Burn On, Big River-Randy Newman

Here we go on a little trip:

5. The Sea Refuses no RiverPete Townshend

“The sea refuses no river and the river is where I am” -I have been critical of all the old rockers shaking it around for these geriatric tours – I feel like if you missed them in their prime , then you missed them, because wheeling them out now for a “re-heat” show is something else. The Who have fallen into this trap and I was never a big Pete Townshend fan to begin with….but….but …this is a great song. It speaks to the equality and inevitability of all of us in a stark and poetic way.

Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front o...
Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front of his amps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Eminem- Stan (with Elton John)

For this list I am utilizing the services of Sir Elton John as a knighted Rock Star to justify bringing a hip-hop artist to the cave. Dido also heavily involved as her song and vocals were used in the studio version. A difficult song that deals with a difficult subject. It is edgy, powerful and surprising (remember when rock music used to be that?)

3. Washing of the Water-Peter Gabriel

This song kills me every time I have seen Peter Gabriel. The intensity that emanates from this simple tune is profound and at another level. It may not be manly to admit that a piece of music can completely overwhelm and turn a not tough dude into complete mush, so I won’t.

2. Take me to the River- The Talking Heads

Oh, the joy and celebration of being artsy was never as much fun as with this hypnotic and cool bunch. If you never saw David Byrne dancing around in his big suit followed by a stint of running around and around the whole stage like a raving lunatic-then you missed some of the best that the 80’s had to offer. What a trip these guys and girls brought you on.

1.When the Levee Breaks- Led Zeppelin

A song from Zeppelin 4 that is a remake of a 1927 blues song about a flood can almost make this list before I even hear it. But I have to hear it again and again and it still sounds great. The Drum track may be the best to ever grace any rock song…and unlike other tunes from this seminal  chunk of vinyl -it has not been overplayed and otherwise abused.

And a big thank-you to Blackjayne for asking this question and making me generate this post! We are all connected in the blogosphere.

8 thoughts on “5 Best River songs

    1. Thanks for spelling Mississippi correctly so I can copy and paste it…going to come in handy when I get to some more blues. And I will check that one out…not too old to stretch a little in the Cave.

  1. Love 4 out of 5 here (Eminem is not my thing, even though he’s good at what he does), and great write-ups on all of them. Especially enjoyed the inclusion of the Townshend song from a personal favorite album of mine that’s been kind of forgotten over the years. And Zeppelin’s been my favorite band since 1979 (when I was 13), so nice choice for #1. Much as I love the Talking Heads version of “Take Me To The River,” which was my first exposure to the song, once I got to know Al Green’s original that’s become my go-to version. Still, great job. Love the concept of this post.

    1. I guess my love of the Talking Heads version comes from seeing them live, the groove they put down was infectious. Thanks for the warm support on what is a very cold day up here!

      1. My pleasure. I’m in Westchester County, so I’m feeling the cold too. Music is warming me up, as always. As for “Take Me To The River,” my college band used to play the Talking Heads’ version and it always went over well. That’s why I also have a connection to their version, but Al Green’s original is just so smooth and hard to beat.

    1. Listening to it a few times before writing this made me jump this up to the #1 spot- It is easy to forget the really great music sometimes. I do like making these lists for that reason…it gets the brain going and gets me digging around the cave for relics!

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