When I was 10 years old I always needed to be told
That I should not be frightened by the fact that we grow old
But as the days slipped by I felt the pressing need to cry
And I quickly understood exactly why they'd had to lie

In the daylight I could cope, because the sun seemed full of hope
I laughed enough for two grown men and learnt I could tell jokes
But sadness has a subtle face and then it came to gloat
We heard about the girl and boy hung by their skipping rope

Isn't it too hard to conceive
Doesn't it bring you to your knees?
And all I want to do
is to float with the river so free.

Now, fear is not a gentle thing although it has no fists
It crawls down from your thoughts and ties you by your skinny wrists
Death will take your lips from you so that you cannot kiss
But fear will leave you screaming out for all the love you'll miss

And I had a friend who thought he knew exactly where he stood
A place in heaven's safe for him as long as he did good
But life and love ran through his veins and opened up his mind
Now he's got his gun but a new terror sings at night

Isn't it too hard to conceive
Doesn't it bring you to your knees
And all I want to do is to float with the river so free

And Larkin is the master in this poetry of fear
But he could never capture what cried darkly in his ears
And he would understand that though I wrote these words to sing
These petty verses cannot hope to tell you anything

Isn't it too hard to conceive
Doesn't it bring you to your knees
And all I want to do is to float with the river so free

So everyday I'll stop these thoughts before they'll take a hold
Lying in my bed pretending that I won't grow old
And maybe when I'm 84 I'll sit and sing this song
Just hope tht if I do then this fear is dead and gone

Isn't it too hard to conceive
Doesn't it bring you to your knees
And all I want to do is to float with the river so free

Isn't it too hard to conceive
Doesn't it bring you to your knees
And all I want to do
Is to float with the river so free
Is to float with the river so free
Is to float with the river so free


Lyrics submitted by st-merija

The River song meanings
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2 Comments

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  • +1
    My InterpretationIt's about being afraid of death and what comes afterwards. The vain of not existing anymore. She cannot ignore or deny the thoughts concerning death, it's an obsession. That's why everything in life seems contemporary to her and she's felt this profound sadness, maybe even depression, eversince she was a little child. There is nothing to do about how she feels, so she just hopes that one day the fear will be gone and she'll adjust to the thought of death.
    st-merijaon January 22, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI share st-merija's view on the main aspect: the fear of death.
    However, I would like to add some thoughts to that. (I'm not a native speaker so I could be wrong at some points, so bear with me ;)

    So the singer is in a situation many of us might relate to when we were young: she is afraid of growing up/old. It's not unusual because growing up has always this... aspect of suspense. So the adults tell her, that growing old is not a bad thing; not because it's necessarily true but because they don't want her to grow up being freightened every day.
    So she starts enjoying the positive aspects of life, maybe even is a carefree child at some point but then her world kind of comes crashing down (maybe that is too harsh but I couldn't think of anything else) when she heard of the two kids' deaths.
    So that part really made me think. Assuming that she is still young and never heard of such a tragedy before, it probably stayed with her after all these years. [I can relate to that; I remember exactly how shocked I was the first time I heard (and actually comprehended what it meant) on the news that someone was killed.] What happened to the boy and the girl remains in the dark; I thought about either an accident or a murder.
    Anyway, this probably showed her that life can be cruel and isn't always fair.
    She describes fear as something that you don't always see coming; it creeps and crawls and when you notice it, it's often too late to do anything again that. You're 'paralyzed'. So the next part is kind of tough in my opinion. I think what she's trying to say is that once we're dead we can't give love anymore because "death will take our lips". But instead of seizing the time that is left to us and making the most of it, we constantly think about death and what we will be missing.
    Then she sings about this friend that was bascially a nice guy who'd never do injustice and thus he will have a beautiful after-life in heaven. But events in his life shaped him; he is not the same person anymore. The "gun" had me thinking.... Maybe it is supposed to represent the army, which he might have joined. I think that would also match with the terror that sings at night ( as he may have killed people and isn't a 'good' person anymore so that 'safe place in heaven' will be denied and thus he doesn't know what will happen to him after his death).
    I'll cut to the chase on the Larkin part now. Larkin and the singer both talk about death and yet, even though they put it into a lot of words, in the end no one really knows what it's like to be dead.
    But as she doesn't want to live a life of constant fear, she tries to shake these negative thoughts off and finds comfort in singing this song.

    In the chorus she bascially tries to tell us how hard it is to comprehend the complexity of the fear of death/dying/after-life... and so she wished she was just carried away by the river ( a symbol for time and change and maybe also acceptance because the river simply doesn't stop to flow).

    Sorry for this long comment; I tend to digress as you might have noticed haha
    CrazyStev0on May 30, 2014   Link

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