What does The River mean?

Good Charlotte: The River Meaning

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Album cover for The River album cover

The River Lyrics

As I walk through the valley
of the shadow of LA
The footsteps that were next to me
have gone their separate ways
I've seen enough now
to know that beautiful things
don't always stay that way
I've done enough now
to know this beautiful...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 28th 2007 !⃝

    Since I'm a strong Christian, the first time I heard this I got excited because it was screaming Biblical stories. (prodigal son, baptizing, sinner, delivered) I just never thought that Good Charlotte was a religious band.

    I think it means that he realizes that this Earth is a sespool of evil and after experiencing rebellion towards God, he realizes going in God's way is better, so he wants to repent (be delivered). But I think people will automatically get what GC is saying.

    I love that they are doing this in the public pop business. God bless Good Charlotte.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Jul 24th 2008 !⃝

    I believe that, at first, he thought he was living the good life-partying every night, drinking, etc-you know, like the prodigal son? But, later on, he realized that it wasn't the life for him. "I've seen enough now to know that beautiful things don't always stay that way." He also realized his sinful ways, and that the true good life is following God.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 7th 2007 !⃝

    This is about GC being believers of God even though they have a sinful past. They want to leave all the bad things behind and be in heaven with God when they die! (I am just guessing)

  4. believerinchrist
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    Apr 11th 2015 !⃝

    as a believer in Christ I think this song is about him realizing his sins and wants to be delivered, thus the lyrics "I've seen a vision in my life and I want to be delivered" also Joel and his brother Benji also grew up in a hugely christian house hold, I think he's also saying now that he's realized his sins he wants to start walking on the path of the Lord, I've always believed that Benji and Joel where Christians, their band might not be but they are and in some songs there is defiantly a lot of Christian values in them god bless good charlotte

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 9th 2011 !⃝

    cry out for help

  6. anonymous
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    Nov 6th 2011 !⃝

    To those saying the baptism in the river is a suicide. You aren't that far off. The old man dies when you are baptized. You rise up a new man, delivered, into the light (grace of God).
    There are no references to a literal suicide as in killing yourself. And the river in your childhood is... stupid. Where do you even get that from? Pay more attention to the interpretations that explain the Christian metaphors used in the song. Death, nor childhood should be associated with this. If childhood is associated, it should be that most us are sinners as we grow, but when we find the truth, we decide to turn away from this sinfulness. Besides those two false interpretations.. the LA interpretations are very good. I like the LA Riots one, but this screams Christian metaphors, and they supposedly [I haven't confirmed this] even made the song 3:16 [3 minutes and 16 seconds] in length, to reference the well known bible verse John 3:16.

  7. anonymous
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    Aug 4th 2011 !⃝

    Some 1 in mii family says that it has a bad meaning 2 it but when I looked at the lyrics, I found out that it was a relgious song and has a little bit of a bad meaning but is religious so it's good.....i think!.

  8. Peter Wilson
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    Apr 14th 2011 !⃝

    This song is about God. Period. Joel and Benji were raised in a Christian, if troubled, household, and I believe still are Christians today. Have they struggled keeping God's commands? Yes (and all of us too), but that is what this song is about, along with God's unending mercy, which is really the message of the New Testament.

    LA, being a general hub for temptation, especially for stars, represents the world's temptations. The part about beautiful things losing their beauty represents how those temptations seem appealing at first, but eventually screw you over. The pre-chorus seems to throw out the idea that sin is disguised, perhaps referring to our culture's idolization of many sins, and then introduces his desire to follow the Lord. Though, if I'm right, it isn't very well worded (to my ears/eyes). To those thinking this is about suicide, since when can baptism represent its exact opposite, suicide? Suicide is taking life away, and baptism is new life in the Lord. The chorus is about how he's fallen into temptation but is sorry for it, and still loves and trusts the Lord and is willing to keep trying, the message I mentioned before. The prodigal son is a well known biblical reference, and the original parable was used to show our human nature to submit to temptation and turn our back on the Lord, and how he will always forgive us and welcome us back, a truth obviously relied on through the song. Though I'm far from sure, the M. Shadows verse might expand on the LA metaphor and the prodigal son idea, using it as loose advice for parents.

    "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24

    P.S. The song is 3:16 long, John 3:16 anyone?

  9. anonymous
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    Dec 21st 2010 !⃝

    God does not abandon! It might feel like it sometimes but thats either because you have abandoned him or satan is getting the best of you. I think that he want's to be delivered by being baptised in a river and he confesses that he's a sinner.
    God bless.:)

  10. Lyndseylu186
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    Dec 2nd 2010 !⃝

    Sorry, That last comment was suppose to say "Joel and Benji's mom"

  11. Lyndseylu186
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    Dec 2nd 2010 !⃝

    From what I read Joel and Benji's is a very strong christian woman and wouldnt even allow them to listen to Rock music. They have a very strong belief in the Lord and I believe they always have but much like everybody else they are not perfect and Sin. I think is song is just saying that when they came to LA to start their career they realized there was a whole other world of sin in the city vs the small town they grew up in and was probably very easily tempted by things. I think they just want their fans to know that they are believers in Christ and they have asked to be forgiven for their sins and hope their fans do the same. I have always loved GC and loved the messages behind their songs. If you listen back to some of their earlier albums they make comments here and there about God like for example in "Young and Hopeless" they say "only God can judge me" and their song "hold on" had such a powerful message of anti suicide. When your in the public eye you can be very influential and especially to the younger generation and I think it is fantastic that GC takes full advantage of sending positive messages out there.

  12. anonymous
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    Aug 12th 2010 !⃝

    I believe the song is about the riots of 1992 in LA.
    "as I walk through the valley of the Shadows of LA. the footsteps that were next to me have gone their seperate ways" is speaking of walking thought the streets as the riots progress, and being left for pillaging and fighting in the streets. "I've seen enough now
    to know that beautiful things don't always stay that way" the speaker is seeing the true colors of the LA inhabitants as they ravage the once beautiful city. "I heard that evil comes disguised" the evil mentioned is the cops who beat the man in the tape that led to the violence.
    The chorus speaks of seeing the light-so to speak, and realizing what's happening and wanting to change that.
    I could go on but for brevity's sake I'll leave the rest up to you to interpret.

  13. anonymous
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    May 20th 2010 !⃝

    Good Charlotte is not a religous band, they tell that in an interview, but the song does have religous meaning, Joel says its that he realizes that he needs a life away from the LA life style and he realized his sins.

  14. anonymous
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    Feb 5th 2010 !⃝

    I'm a little confused as to what "howcouldyou" said. I think you're trying to hide the meaning, but I picked up a little bit of what you're saying. Care to explain a little more?

  15. medeirosland
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    Aug 28th 2009 !⃝

    This song's Lyrics spell out one persons disappointment in them self and in the discovery that Los Angeles is not the wonderful place it was once imagined to be. The tone of these verses gives me the impression that this person left the security and protection of home and the sedate small time life for the glamour of the big city, only to find that many bad things can and do happen in this city which was once considered beautiful and without blemish.
    A person put into tough and unfamiliar surroundings, Without the proper resources often has to sink to desperate measures just to survive. The acts which are then committed in the name of self preservation can not only make a person want the life they left but allow them to appreciate the
    hard lessons which were learned while trying just to get by. These lessons might not be something to be proud of but they are lessons never to be forgotten.
    This persons religious faith has helped them make the choice to not be like the people they have witnessed, those who spiral out of control in the name of indulging temptation and the whatever it takes attitude.
    As I understand these lyrics, to be baptized in the river means going through bad experiences alone, while coming to the hard realization that life is not always good, and neither are all the people in it.
    To be delivered is making the realization that mistakes can be forgiven and that there is still the opportunity to be a better person while living a more productive life.

  16. anonymous
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    Aug 27th 2009 !⃝

    the song was actually written by avenged sevenfolds m. shadows who has written an abundance of songs full of bible references

  17. wafflecookies
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    Aug 9th 2009 !⃝

    Howcouldyou is definitely right.........i think that the "The footsteps that were next to me/have gone their separate ways" and "on my own" refer to being abandoned by God and not being delivered respectively.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  18. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2009 !⃝

    This song is deffintly a Christian song. Good Charlotte is NOT a Christian Rock band, however they have this song which is a Christian Rock song, they also also have explicitly used a few Christian-based themes in their song "We Believe". They also occasionaly mention God in some of their songs (Complicated, Thank You Mom, Movin' On, etc.) And I think that one of the reasons that M. Shadows and Syn Gates are in the song is because right after Shadow's line, Joel says "they sing that evil comes disguised", i just think he may be referring "they" as Avenged Sevenfold (Shadows and Gates band), who sing about Christianity but not exactly from a Christian point of view. Anywho, I think that this whole song is about how he used to be close with God but after he became famous, he became more and more wordly and started to do sinful things and step away from God, and now he wants to renew his relationship with Christ and become close with him again.

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