84: The River

84: The River

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

The River

Story by Victoria Shaw

Song written by Victoria Shaw and Garth Brooks

Recorded by Garth Brooks

I wrote “The River” with Garth Brooks at my little house in East Nashville. We were sitting around trying to come up with any kind of song idea but we were blank. After about an hour he said, “Put some music on,” so I put on this new James Taylor album I had just gotten. If you listen, you can hear we had James as our muse.

As soon as we locked in, the song wrote itself. We were done in two hours. Garth’s first record hadn’t even come out yet. He told me he would put it on his second album, but it never made it, so I was thrilled when it showed up on Ropin’ the Wind. This song was, and is, one of Garth’s signature songs.

I still get people telling me all the time how “The River” was used at their graduation or at a funeral or it inspired them to leave a job or a town they were unhappy in and start a new life.

Garth and I were two wide-eyed dreamers when we wrote this. The song was, and still is, our philosophy of life.

The River

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 between the shores


I will sail my vessel

’Til the river runs dry

Like a bird upon the wind

These waters are my sky

I’ll never reach my destination

If I never try

So I will sail my vessel

’Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside

And let the waters slip away

’Til what we put off ’til tomorrow

Has now become today

So don’t you sit upon the shoreline

And say you’re satisfied

Choose to chance the rapids

And dare to dance the tide


There’s bound to be rough waters

And I know I’ll take some falls

But with the good Lord as my captain

I can make it through them all


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