"Harlem River Blues" as written by and Justin Townes Earle....
Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

I'm on a roll, mama, I gotta go, gotta get there while I still can
Troubled days are behind me now and I know they're gonna let me in
When you see me walkin' up the empty yard, just a-singin' and a-clappin' my hands
Tell my mama I love her, tell my father I tried, give my money to my baby to spend

'Cause Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Good times come and they go, even a good man'll break
He'll let his troubles bury him whole even though he knows what's at stake
So I'm taking no chances, carrying over while I'm still good in His grace
Sayin' I'm no fool, mama, I know the difference between tempting and choosing my fate

'Cause Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound

Lord, I'm goin' uptown to the Harlem River to drown
Dirty water gonna cover me over and I'm not gonna make a sound


Lyrics submitted by evanreyes

"Harlem River Blues" as written by Justin Townes Earle

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Harlem River Blues song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionAlso, it's "walking up the FDR", not "up the empty yard". 'The FDR' is Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive, the parkway that runs alonside the Harlem River.
    bkrockwellon September 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionIt's "...give my money to my baby to spend", not just "give my money to my baby". Good work otherwise.
    bkrockwellon August 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcannot stop listening to it! i think this line explains it all: "I know the difference between tempting and choosing my fate." drown yourself while you're still young, basically.
    fireplaceon September 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really like this song, the concept seems to be very original. The second verse gives away the meaning. Its obviously about suicide but, it seems as though things are going well for him (in the song), but he knows “good times come and they go”, and he is afraid of the hard times because in hard times “even a good man’ll break”, so he wants to end it while things are good and he is “still good in His grace”. A fools game for sure in real life, but a good concept for a great song.
    rockeyisameancaton January 08, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis is a really great song with a really deep meaning. Although I've heard that he was talking about being baptized and washing away sins, not literally drowning.
    ZiplocMasteron January 30, 2011   Link

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