From poetry and songwriting to painting and sculpture, rivers have long served as an inspiration to the creative community. Due to rivers’ special characteristics, they can be incorporated into countless meanings people find important in life.
Whether you’re looking for a classic piece of music from veteran singers or fresh tracks from contemporary artists, we have it all here. So relax and go with the flow as we admire the beauty of these best songs about rivers that you will undoubtedly fall in love with:
Table of Contents
- 21. The River of Dreams — Billy Joel
- 20. Watching the River Flow — Bob Dylan
- 19. The River — Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band
- 18. Take Me to the River (2005 Remaster) — Talking Heads
- 17. River — Joni Mitchell
- 16. Down by the River — Crazy Horse, Elvis Costello, and Neil Young
- 15. River — Leon Bridges
- 14. ‘Till The Rivers All Run Dry — Don Williams
- 13. I Follow Rivers — Lykke Li
- 12. Moon River — Andy Williams
- 11. Yes, The River Knows — The Doors
- 10. Just Around the Riverbend — Judy Kuhn
- 9. River Song — Dennis Wilson
- 8. I Am A River — Foo Fighters
- 7. River So Wide — Phil Collins
- 6. Rivers and Roads — The Head and the Heart
- 5. Whiskey River — Willie Nelson
- 4. Big River — Grateful Dead
- 3. Five Feet High and Rising — Johnny Cash
- 2. River Euphrates — Pixies
- 1. Cry Me a River — Justin Timberlake
21. The River of Dreams — Billy Joel
Let’s start off our playlist of music with Billy Joel’s “The River of Dreams.” This 1993 classic will offer you hope in the midst of struggle. It’s a must-listen ballad that received a Grammy for “Song of the Year.” The album’s title tune, “The River of Dreams,” is an enduring classic that never ceases to evoke a wide range of joyous emotions.
20. Watching the River Flow — Bob Dylan
Aside from Billy Joel, Bob Dylan was also a popular name when it came to folk songs in the 1970s. From his album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II comes “Watching the River Flow.” It is a song with a touch of blues and jazz, complemented by brilliant lyrics. Like its title, it’ll give you a sense of relaxation, as if you’re indeed watching the river flow.
19. The River — Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” is sure to delight you. From the moment the instrumentals begin, they will already send chills down your spine. It is a beautiful classic rock tune and is also the title track of his album released in 1980. The musicality of this song captures a feeling of nostalgia that will certainly move you to tears. It also got a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance due to its remarkable artistry.
18. Take Me to the River (2005 Remaster) — Talking Heads
“Take Me to the River,” performed by the classic rock band Talking Heads, will make you want to play it all day. It is light yet groovy, and it can definitely calm the storms in you. “Take Me to the River” belongs to Talking Heads’ 1978 album More Songs About Buildings and Food. Its intoxicating bassline and the vocals are what people love about this rock track the most.
17. River — Joni Mitchell
You’ll be sobbing your eyes out to our next folk track. Joni Mitchell, a phenomenally talented female musician, wrote a song titled “River.” The arrangement of her voice with the song’s instruments was beautiful and haunting. This enchanting folk song was released in 1971 on her album Blue, and it is guaranteed to penetrate your soul.
16. Down by the River — Crazy Horse, Elvis Costello, and Neil Young
Any Neil Young fan will be familiar with “Down by the River,” which can even be their favorite track of his. To me, this song conjures up images of bright, sunny days. He worked alongside Elvis Costello and Crazy Horse, among others. It’s a beautiful ballad that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. This track originally appeared on Neil’s 2006 album, The Bridge School Collection, Volume 2.
15. River — Leon Bridges
A raw and beautiful piece of music titled “River” was recorded by Leon Bridges for the Coming Home album. It won him a Grammy Award for Best Music Video. This soul track starts off with the peaceful humming of two voices that will captivate you right away. There is no way this song will not go straight to your heart the moment you play it.
14. ‘Till The Rivers All Run Dry — Don Williams
Don Williams will now serenade you with his stunning classic song titled “‘Till the Rivers All Run Dry.” Williams talent as a musician is showcased in this soothing track. This classic track can effortlessly take all your fears and worries away. Lyrically, it’s quite passionate, with the singer promising his undying devotion to the object of his affection until the rivers dry up. The album Harmony is where you can find this masterpiece.
13. I Follow Rivers — Lykke Li
One of Lykke Li’s 2011 singles was titled “I Follow Rivers.” It’s got a lively rhythm component, but it’s got a laid-back vibe. This song by Wounded Rhymes is about a person’s undying love for another and her willingness to go to any lengths to be with them. The song “I Follow Rivers” was nominated for multiple awards, including “World’s Best Song” and “Song of the Year.”
12. Moon River — Andy Williams
A sublime masterpiece is up next! We have “Moon River” by Andy Williams, who first recorded it in 1962. It is a slow-paced song, enough to lull you to sleep and give you pleasant dreams. Several big artists in music have also recorded their own renditions of this absolutely beautiful song over the past few years. It is a timeless classic from the album Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes that will stay in your heart forever.
11. Yes, The River Knows — The Doors
Be ready to be taken back to the old times while listening to The Door’s Yes, “The River Knows.” It has mystical lyrics and relaxing instrumentation. If you’re looking for a song to help you relax and unwind, this folk track from Waiting for the Sun by The Doors is an excellent choice for you to listen to.
10. Just Around the Riverbend — Judy Kuhn
Pocahontas is an award-winning classic Disney film for the remarkable songs in it. One of those soundtracks from this movie is “Just Around the Riverbend.” This ballad was performed by Judy Kuhn, and its lyrics revolve around the story of the protagonist and her love interest. Judy Kuhn’s vocals are hypnotizing and soothing at the same time.
9. River Song — Dennis Wilson
Pacific Ocean Blue, released in 1977, features Dennis Wilson’s song “River Song.” He sings about how, after living in a fast-paced city for so long, he enjoys nothing more than feeling the rush of the river waves through his knees. This slow rock song will transport you to the beach and leave you wondering about the secrets of the river.
8. I Am A River — Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters, an American rock band, dropped their single “I Am A River” in 2014, and it has gotten a lot of praise since. The soothing instrumentals consumed the first minute of this song. This seven-minute-long rock song from their album Sonic Highways is about a river flowing underground. It is a wonderfully-arranged piece that will capture your soul.
7. River So Wide — Phil Collins
Phil Collins, a drummer turned vocalist, contributed a song to the canon of river-themed music. It is a pop-rock song that he wrote, and it is titled “River So Wide.” It has profound lyrics that will move each and every listener in their own unique way. This song from Phil’s 1996 album Dance into the Light has a lot of encouraging energy, thanks to the driving drum beats and Phil’s signature voice.
6. Rivers and Roads — The Head and the Heart
Prepare your tissues, as The Head and the Heart will make you feel as if your heart is breaking and you won’t help but tear up with their song “Rivers and Roads.” This raw indie song’s lyrics are so emotional and heartfelt. This song from The Head and the Heart (Deluxe Edition) will be with you through the ups and downs, the sorrows and joys. It’s also a great option for jam sessions with your friends.
5. Whiskey River — Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson, along with phenomenal singers Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Jamey Johnson, and Ashley Monroe, will entertain you with “Whiskey River” from the Willie Nelson & Friends: Live At Third Man Records album. Several instrument players gathered to create a flavorful track that will make you imagine you are on vacation in Hawaii and enjoying your cocktail while listening to them perform. It is a folk track you should never miss!
4. Big River — Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead was a rock band known for their rock, blues, and folk styles of music. Among their works is “Big River” from Steal Your Face. This song, performed by the said band, features commendable sound quality. Originally, “Big River” was written and first recorded by Johnny Cash. The song’s pleasant melody and carefully crafted lyrics guarantee a good mood..
3. Five Feet High and Rising — Johnny Cash
Speaking of the classic gem, Johnny Cash, here is his song titled “Five Feet High and Rising” from The Indispensable, 1954-1961 – I Walk the Line, There You Go, Home of the Blues, I Got Stripes, Going to Memphis. It has a folk and country vibe, and the legendary himself penned the lyrics twenty years after he and his family experienced the 1937 Mississippi River flood firsthand when he was only four years old.
2. River Euphrates — Pixies
One of the longest and most historically significant rivers in the world is the subject of our final 1980s song, “River Euphrates,” by the rock band Pixies. This alternative rock tune can be found on their album Surfer Rosa. There aren’t even that many lines to it, and the word “ride” appears multiple times throughout. This track is among rock enthusiasts’ favorites from the band’s album.
1. Cry Me a River — Justin Timberlake
Make sure to grab your headphones as we play our final track. It is titled “Cry Me a River” and is from Justin Timberlake’s album, Love – The Essential Ballads. Over 400 million people have listened to it on YouTube, and it’s widely regarded as an all-time favorite due to its superb production and irresistible rhythms. The story behind “Cry Me a River” also made it popular, which is Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears’ past relationship. This pop and R&B track won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Pop.