"Take Me to the River" as written by Al L. Green and Mabon Hodges....
I don't know why I love you like I do
After all these changes that you put me through
You stole my money and my cigarettes
And I haven't seen hide nor hair of you yet

I wanna know
Won't you tell me
Am I in love to stay?
Hey hey
Take me to the river
And wash me down
Won't you cleanse my soul
Put my feet on the ground

I don't know why she treated me so bad
After all the things that we could have had
Love is a notion that I can't forget
My sweet sixteen I will never regret

I wanna know
Won't you tell me
Am I in love to stay?
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Hold me, love me, please me, tease me
Till I can't, till I can't take no more
Take me to the river

I don't know why I love you like I do
After all the things that you put me through
The sixteen candles burning on my wall
Turning me into the biggest fool of them all

I wanna know
Oh won't you tell me
Am I in love to stay?

I wanna know
Take me to the river
I wanna know
I want you to dip me in the water
I wanna know
Won't you wash me in the water
Wash me in the water
Wash me in the water
Won't you wash me in the water
Feeling good


Lyrics submitted by SuitBoy

"Take Me to the River" as written by Al L. Green, Mabon Hodges

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


Take Me to the River song meanings
Add your thoughts

1 Comment

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a cry of anguish from a man in love with an under-age girl. Al Green wrote this song at the age of 28 when he was living in Memphis, Tennessee.

    He was entangled with another girl, Mary Woodson White, who committed suicide when he refused to marry her, but this is about something else. Here the object of his love is just 16, in a state where the age of consent is 18. That is why the wording in his lyric is so opaque.

    Some of the hidden meaning becomes clearer when it's realised that Green was already on the path to redemption, for after Woodson White's suicide he took holy orders and became a pastor in the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, where he is to this day.

    Thus, the ritual cleansing theme of the song is a call to expiate the wrong that he nearly committed but, ultimately, didn't. This may have been a fan, or family friend, or neighbour who got close to the singer - already a star - and maybe had her head turned. But as we see from the lyric, "You took my money and my cigarettes, I haven't seen hide nor hair of you yet" what Green hoped would happen, didn't. She wisely escaped.

    There's a touching picture of him placing sixteen candles on a wall, evidently to celebrate her birthday, and maybe as a precursor to the act of love. There's an agony not only in the lyrics but in the way Green delivers them - he realises he's been a fool, he realises it was wrong, at the same time he still wants her, desperately. His plea, Take Me To The River, Wash Me Down, is a call for spiritual help - and as such it makes this one of the cleverest, one of the most tortured, and one of the finest songs of his era and genre.

    The song's meaning has been eclipsed by the fine music and bittersweet vocal which accompanies it, but in the end it's a song about temptation, thwarted love, and a plea for forgiveness.

    A work of genius.
    christowon May 29, 2011   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain