"This River Is Wild" as written by Brandon Flowers, Dave Brent Keuning, Mark August Stoermer and Ronnie Jr. Vannucci....
Leaves are fallin' down on the beautiful ground
I heard a story from the man in red
He said, the leaves are fallin' down
Such a beautiful sound
Son, I think you'd better go ahead
But you always hold your head up high
Cause it's a long, long, long way down
This town was meant for passing through
Boy, it ain't nothin' new
Now go and show 'em that the world stayed round
But it's a long, long, long way down

You better run for the hills
Before they burn
Listen to the sound of the world
Don't watch it turn
I just want to show you what I know
And catch you when the current
Lets you go

Or should I just get along with myself?
I never did get along with everybody else
I've been tryin' hard to do what's right
But you know I could stay here
All night
And watch the clouds fall from the sky
This river is wild
This river is wild

Run for the hills before they burn
Listen to the sound of the world
Don't watch it turn
I shake a little
Sometimes I'm nervous when I talk
I shake a little
Sometimes I hate the line I walk
I just wanna to show you what I know
Catch you when the current
Lets you go

Or should I just get along with myself?
I never did get along with everybody else
I've been trying hard to do what's right
But you know I could stay here
All night
And watch the clouds fall from the sky
Because this river is wild
Godspeed ya, boy
This river is wild

Now Adam's taking bombs, and he's stuck on his mom
Because that bitch keeps tryin' to make him pray
He's with the hippie in the park, combing over the dark
Just tryin' to get some of that little-girl play

You better run for the hills before they burn
Listen to the sound of the world
Don't watch it turn
I just want to show you what I know
And catch you when the current
Lets you go

Or should I get along with myself?
I never did get along with everybody else
I've been tryin' hard to do what's right
But you know I could stay here
All night
And watch the clouds fall from the sky
This pain is hell in me tonight
Because this river is wild
Godspeed ya, boy
This river is wild
This river is wild
Godspeed ya, boy
This river is wild

And cars are everywhere
Raisin' dust at the fairground
I don't think I ever seen so many headlights
But there's somethin' pullin' me
The circus and the crew
Well, they're just passin' through
Makin' sure the merry still goes 'round
But it's a long, long, long way down


Lyrics submitted by ultradirrty, edited by sectionk8

"This River Is Wild" as written by Dave Brent Keuning Brandon Flowers

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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This River Is Wild song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThis is just my first impression of the lyrics and I could be totally wrong. However here I go anyway.

    I think that this song is about a totally antisocial guy, maybe something happend to him in the past (should I just get along with myself? I never did get along with everybody else) and I agree with the river being used as a metaphor for life, although I think that instead of looking at the river with distain, and therfore wanting to end his life, I think that he is wondering if he should jump into the river, and become part of life. I think this not because of anything in the actual lyrics, but more from listening to the song. The tone that is used in the line "this river is wild" is not one of distain, one rather I would say of amazement. Also I do not think that the "man in red" is satan, but rather the ringmaster. I think that the circus is used alot in this album as a metaphor for life, and so the ringmaster could actually be seen as god, and the ringmaster wants him to become part of the world "boy I think you'd better get along" The main reason I see the ring master as a good force is that I think the second part is still supposed to be the ringmaster talking
    "But you always hold your head up high, cause it’s a long, long, long way down. This town was meant for passing through, boy it ain’t nothin’ new, now go and show ‘em that the world stayed round. But it’s a long, long, long way down" it's like he's saying, be careful, but stay proud, believe in yourself. Anyway, getting back to the point, I think the guy is definately wondering wheather or not he should enter the world again, become part of society, or maybe to start a relationship. This is shown in the lines " listen to the sound of the world, don’t watch it turn. I just want to show you what I know and catch you when the current lets you go." The first part of that set of lines would refer to jumping in, the need to be part of the world "don't watch it turn" the second part is the narrator's wish to be part of the world, he yearns to take care of someone, but he doesn't know if he should. The narrator's problems with people are shown in the lines " Sometimes I’m nervous when I talk, shake a little. Sometimes I hate the line I walk. " I think the shake a little part is kind of refering to fear.

    so that was my long winding thought process , sorry if it was kind of random, I just typed what I thought as I thought it.
    Boobooatomicon February 16, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't have too much of a clue as to what this song means.

    I think it might be about someone who lived a troubled life and now that things finally gotten better, they want to help other people out of a bad life.
    "I just want to show you what I know and catch you when the current lets you go."
    This could mean that the person wants to use their past experience to save others and that they will be there when "you" get free from the crazy things in life.

    And maybe it's hard to change people so this person contemplates giving up on mankind. Possibly, one person cannot change the world.

    And who doesn't love that "shake a little" part?!
    Pink Angel Cakeon October 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a really interesting track. Probably the best lyrics they've delivered to date. What I find especially interesting is that they seem to have made good on their promise for the album on this track. I think the rest of it is good, but this track really hits the mark. It IS a little Springsteen (especially the blatant Springsteen rip off at the end when it goes soft with lyrics about the fair ground, Mary, etc...nothing wrong with a little homage!), but there's something I'm surprised no one's noticed yet- by taking cues from Springsteen, Oasis, U2, New Order etc. and mashing them all up, they sound strikingly like Ryan Adams tracks like "So Alive" or "Tonight" (Cold Roses bonus track) right down to the explosively vibrating vocal, the guitar that comes in playing arpeggios in the 3rd verse, the soft/cracked vocal at the piano section...really everything. Tons of Ryan Adams similarities on "When You Were Young," too. I'm not sure if this is because of a direct influence or because The Killers and Ryan Adams basically share influences now, but it's interesting either way.
    z4ckm0rrison October 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about sin (in comparison to a river,) at least to me.

    The singer is listening to this authority figure, who's telling him he needs to turn his life around, because it's going all wrong. ("I heard a story from a man in red... son I think you’d better go ahead.") Also, about the "man in red" part... it sounds like the advise offerer is being compared to a fireman. ("You better run for the hills before they burn.")

    But, the singer also wants to help his friend, too, as they're going on the same path he is. ("I just want to show you what I know and catch you when the current lets you go. ")

    So the singer is trying to decide if he should help himself at all. ("Or should I just get along with myself? I never did get along with everybody else. ") He's also saying that, even though he's trying hard, it's difficult for him to give up his habit of sin, and destruction, as it's so easy to destroy (watch the clouds fall) than not. ("I’ve been trying hard to do what’s right. But you know I could stay here all night and watch the clouds fall from the sky. Well this river is wild..")

    He's ashamed of getting help, but he knows he needs to stop his way of life. ("Sometimes I’m nervous when I talk, shake a little. Sometimes I hate the line I walk.")

    So, he starts talking about another person who has problems, too. Or, maybe he's just talking about himself... ("Now Adam’s taking bombs and he’s stuck on his mom because that bitch keeps trying to make him pray. He’s with the hippy in the park combing over the dark just trying to get some of the little girl play.")

    Suddenly, the singer realizes that he's not so alone on how he lives his life, and he can see that many people are in the same predictament he is. ("Now the cars are everywhere, lacing dust at the fairgrounds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many headlights.") And now, he wants to back to his old life. ("But there’s something pulling me.") He pays tribute to the people who make life a little more bearable to people like him, even if they're only in your life for a small amount of time. ("The circus and their crew, well they’re just passing through, just making sure that merry still goes ‘round.") He remarks that from how much he's improved, going back to his sinful habits would really be a hard fall. ("But it’s a long, long, long way down.")

    Sorry, that's my first time ever really analyzing lyrics, so it's probably not very good... n_n;.
    Trapezeron October 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti agree with frangi on the "man in red" being the devil, and i agree with a lot of what trapezer said. to add on:

    i think there are two speakers in the song, the singer and the devil. basically, the devil is like, yo guy, it's a long long long way down (to hell) and this town (sam's town) was meant for passing through, you need to get out of here (head for the hills). because it's a long way down to hell if you keep leading your life of sin.


    "This river is wild" = this life is wild. "godspeed you boy" = good luck kid. The devil is basically telling him, it's a long way down to hell, but this life is crazy, so good luck.

    In my interpretation the end is pretty sad. At first glance the lyrics seem rather happy, a revelation sort of, but brandon sounds kinda sorrowful when singing- this leads me to believe the end isn't exactly positive. The devil tells him that this town was meant for passing through, but at the end the singer mentions that the circus and the crew are just passing through, leading me to believe that the circus is just passing through and he is staying, at least for awhile, especially at the line "but there's something pulling me." He recalls to himself as he decides to continue leading his life of sin that it's a long way down to hell.

    However, I don't believe that this is the ultimate fate of the character- in the song "Why do I Keep Counting" he mentions he can still change his way of living.
    yowatupon November 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"get some of the little girl play", immediately i thought pedophilia!
    it's rather interesting to read all the comments, the song makes more sense now
    sedativeon March 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a quote from an interview Brandon had with NME magizines

    "It's a strange one. Some people already hate it; some people like it, but the ones who love it are diehard. I love it! If ever there's been a musical journey this is it. When I listen to it I don't want it to end. Each chorus is different, that's untypical of us, so it's our shot at doing something different. This is also the most literal song here. I was born in Las Vegas but I grew up in a small town in Utah called Nephi, and the whole idea of escaping it and the excitement of that prospect is all captured on this."
    Royalstaron May 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have a lot to say about this song, but as it is late, I will stick to only one point, my favorite point of the song.

    "Now the cars are everywhere...lacin' dust at the fair grounds...I don't think I've ever seen so many head lights..."

    I've read a lot of analysis of potential metaphoric meanings for the cars and headlights, but I think it is simpler than that. Think of the image...a small town has held a fair, and it is now coming to a close. The crowd is walking out to their cars, kicking up dust, casting headlight beams everywhere. The air is warm, and the smells and sounds of a fair still linger in the air...think cotton candy, laughter, hot dogs, contented conversation, etc...).

    That is what the narrator is seeing and experiencing. It is peaceful. He is content. Things are right in the world.
    insomniacjezzon June 25, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthonestly i think this is about someone going to hell..."man in red" "its a long long waay down"

    yeah all that supports my theory

    or maybe thats just too dark for the killers anyways great song
    foogu2on April 18, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI didn't actually read through all 90 something comments, so I apologize if my analysis is redundant (heh, but hey! if I'm number 91 no one will probably read mine either! :-P)

    Anywho, I think this, like other Killers songs, could be about growing up in a small town (Sam's Town, even?)...

    There is definitely the circu motif thrown in there, and I think that whoever said the man in red is the ringleader could be right. I think the circus might represent more worldly folk, entertainers...

    I think this kid is struggling growing up in a small town when he has more potential. Having grown up in a small town myself, I know what it feels like to feel like you just don't fit in with anyone... like you wouldn't be satisfied staying in this small town like everyone else seems to be. I think the worldly man in red is telling the kid to hurry up and get out of this town and see the world/make something of himself, before he wrecks it with the destructive habits of bored suburban/rural kids (lots of drugs, drinking, stupid things...) But I think he's also saying, watch out because once you get into the big world it's not as sheltered ("It's a long way down"), and that he needs to be careful, hold his head up high to not be swallowed up by the big river (real world).

    This kind of goes along with the chorus:

    Run for the hills before they burn. Listen to the sound of the world, don't watch it turn. But shake a little... etc.

    Also, "I could stay here all night and watch the clouds fall from the sky. Well this river is wild. This river is wild."

    He could stay in the small town and watch life pass him by, or he could take the chance in the wild river... he's not sure.

    The little segment about Adam? Well, it could be an example of someone who stuck around the small town. He's still living with his mom, doing drugs, and his mom is trying to reform him. He hangs out with another dead-end character - the hippie in the park - and tries to hit on the young girls "little girl play." You all know that creepy guy who's like in his late 20s but still hangs around his old high school hitting on the girls? Yeah....
    lshiovitzon May 07, 2010   Link

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