"Peace Like A River" as written by and Paul Simon....
Peace like a river ran through the city
Long past the midnight curfew
We sat starry-eyed
We were satisfied

And I remember
Misinformation followed us like a plague
Nobody knew from time to time
If the plans where changed
If the plans were changed

You can beat us with wires
You can beat us with chains
You can run out your rules
But you know you can't outrun the history train
I've seen a glorious day

Four in the morning
I woke up from out of my dreams
Nowhere to go but back to sleep
But I'm reconciled

Oh, oh, oh, I'm gonna be up for a while
Oh, oh, oh
I'm gonna be up for a while

Lyrics submitted by skunkbythebrook

"Peace Like a River" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Peace Like A River song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentIn my opinion, this song represents oppression and its ever-changing role in society.
    The title, "Peace Like a River", represents the time when the world will finally be at peace. In essence, PS is dreaming of a time when "Peace Like a River [runs] through the cities.
    Long past the midnight curfew represents the oppression and the people of the city sitting starry-eyed represents the time when everyone finally stands up to the oppression and they are satisfied with their lives.
    The second verse represents the world when all people will look back on oppression and say "I remember the days when misinformation followed us and we were unable to see if things would ever change." In essence, whenever anyone looks back on oppression (IE slavery) everyone seems to think "how did we ever do such a thing?" and in making reference to the civil war, many people thought that slavery should never change. In essence, it is a reference to this type of thought that plagues most oppressive regimes or types of rule.
    The third verse makes reference to the ways in which people stand up to oppression, peacefully. The people are saying to their oppressors "you can beat us with wires and beat us with chains but you will never change the fact that we have made history." The reference to "I seen a glorious day" brings to light the importance of dreams in changing oppression. In essence, the people are saying to the oppressors "we have a dream and we will make that dream happen."
    The final verse discusses how the people in this situation must deal with the frustration and wrongdoing of oppression, but they are reconciled by their dreams. The person is a civil rights fighter who wakes up in the middle of the night sadly thinking about all of the things that are wrong with the world but the dream of having a peaceful world is reconciling to him, although it has not yet happened. He feels helpless, bringing meaning to the words "Nowhere to go but back to sleep" and "but I am reconciled" explains how the dream gives him hope.
    The final lines of the song leave us contemplating the ways in which dreams drive reality. The person who has dreamt is left unable to sleep but thinking of ways to make this dream a reality.
    imjeffwitcheron September 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta bit surprised no comments. anyways, this is one of my personal favorite simon songs. it seems to be about .. well nothing in particular, it's vague but it has some nice lines. hear ben kweller's song Lizzy if you like this song.
    brownekillsspringon October 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy I like this song...
    ..I;m visualizing somethin' ut of listening unto this song.
    bear_hug20on August 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis reminds me of when i was on the road from michigan to california for the first time and how everyone misinformed me in LA. Which I despise Venice Beach or at
    least what has happened to it. I can Imagine it used to be an amazing place.
    undertheroseon January 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love Paul Simon. When I hear this song, I have more of an emotional response than a mental one.
    kooylaon March 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningJust wondering if he's making a reference to the bible. The phrase "peace like a river" is not a particularly obvious metaphor, but it is used in Isaiah chapter 66. "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, ... For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; ... For this is what the Lord says: 'I will extend peace to her like a river, ... and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.'” In the first verse of Paul Simon's song, he has the "peace like a river" metaphor as well as the image of satisfaction.

    Now I'm wondering whether the second verse indicates that he thinks he was beein hoodwinked, or whether he sees the new peace as a relief or respite?
    FelicityPilchardon July 07, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat, great song. It definitely has an early 70s vibe, when social activism and civil rights were the hot topic.

    he "wakes up out of his dream" to face reality. His vision of a glorious day was just a dream, and now he has to face an uncertain future. Something we all hav to do as a race of people.
    degree7on April 15, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI also agree with Felicity's interpretation. The songs vision of a glorious day could be that of the Second Coming, when peace will conquer all and mankind will be united under one? Perhaps the narrator's faith is being tested, full of doubt over the future and the evil in the world.
    degree7on April 15, 2014   Link

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