What does The River mean?

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Bruce Springsteen: The River Meaning

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The River Lyrics

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jul 23rd, 2018 7:20am report


    It's the story of a boy turned man. As a boy he was fully alive, in love and full of dreams. The river is not just a river but an allegory for emotion. The dreams and the love he had in his heart still remain as a man but they have faded below the surface and the drudgery of a hard blue-collar life. His wife shares the same feelings, emotions and shattered dreams though his act is not remembering, while her act is not caring. When he finally goes back to the river, both physically and emotionally, he questions why. Is his dream still alive or to be reinvigorated by the river that has dried? Or will he do "something worse" because he realizes he can't resurrect the past?



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 7th, 9:12pm report


    This song has deep meanings for me when I think of my ex-wife even if the lyrics don't always match the exact situation. I mean is there any song that completely matches a situation that we are in? The River represents love, it is raging and full when you and your partner first fall in love but eventually it can go bad, it can change and then all you have left are memories and a dry river bed that metaphorically represents that relationship that will never flow again.

    The first part of the song "I come from down in the valley where mister when you're young They bring you up to do like your daddy done" makes me think of my youth and how I was brought up to follow in my fathers footsteps to become a responsible father, husband and caregiver. My ex and I met when we were older than the characters in the song, I was 27, she was 24 but three years later we did wed. The lines We'd ride out of this valley down to where the fields were green We'd go down to the river And into the river we'd dive Oh down to the river we'd ride", make me think of our early dates, how exciting, new and fresh it was. We fell in love, we held hands, we kissed, we were passionate. The second stanza about pregnancy does not apply but marriage does and after we wed my ex and I found out that marriage is not just about love or commitment. There is a communciation element needed and thats how that last two stanzas of Springsteen's song really hits me hard. The love and marriage that began with so much promise eventually became one of struggle, regret, lack of communication, finger pointing, etc. "Now all them things that seemed so important Well mister they vanished right into the air Now I just act like I don't remember Mary acts like she don't care" With this the relationship was broken, a divorce happened after barely four years of wedlock. And the line about me not remembering and her not caring describes the last two years of our marriage and the subsequent 8 years since the divorce perfectly.

    Then the final act of the song, a man looking back on the relationship, the love he once had. Remembering her when times were great, the love was young, "pulling her close to feel each breathe she'd take". Unfortately the memories come back to haunt me, just like Bruce says, like a curse, is the dream alive??? Meaning is our love still alive? Or is it just nostalgia and regret that bring me back to that river even though I know it is dry and there is no chance that she and I will ever love or even speak again.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 1st, 2019 7:35am report


    Bruce himself, in his biography, has said that the song was written about her sister, who got pregnant at seventeen and her boyfriend just nineteen.

    A court house wedding and they are on their own and the difficult days ahead.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 26th, 2019 4:03pm report


    Kids just suck the life out of you....& then you get grandkids & play your vinyl ❤️



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 13th, 2017 1:41pm report


    A real emotional song with a haunting presence coming down through our soul and guts. Feeling and enduring these sad pains that compounds eachother when the working man's dream fades away with the loss of job[s] like was during the rough economy of the 70's and 80's. A sad time when Bruce also felt the happy moments spend with his sister by The River, fall apart when his sister's future dream ended in a divorce marriage. And Yes, Bruce felt the dream that could've turned worse before and after the No-Nukes protests. All to remind us if the time comes for ''Is a dream a lie if it don't come true''- ''Or is it something worse''-''That sends me down to The River''- ''Though I know The River is dry''



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 4th, 2016 2:12pm report


    It says "Hey you working at the car wash you wish you had a mansion like me".



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 3rd, 2013 4:45am report


    It's about his sister and brother in law she fell pregnant at 17 his brother in law was forced to get a union job (he was 19)



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 27th, 2012 3:53pm report


    He fell in love with a girl in high school and had to deal with getting her pregnant and marrying when he was 19.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 28th, 2011 2:19pm report


    He fell in love at a young age and had a child. He was forced to marry her because of the morals of society back then, but was not unhappy with his marriage. Then his wife suddenly started becoming uncaring and distant as if she is unhappy with the way her life turned out which in turn is making him sad. The song is about him reminiscing on the way things used to be when they both loved each other and were as happy as can be.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 28th, 2011 2:16pm report


    He fell in love at a young age and had a child. He was forced to marry her because of the morals of society back then, but was not unhappy with his marriage. Then his wife suddenly started becoming uncaring and distant as if she is unhappy with the way her life turned out which in turn is making him sad. The song is about him reminiscing on the way things used to be when they both loved each other and were as happy as can be.




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