"Hold Back The River" as written by and James Bay Iain Archer....
Tried to keep you close to me
But life got in between
Tried to square not being there
But think that I should have been

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and see where you hide
Hold back the river, hold back

Once upon a different life
We rode our bikes into the sky
But now we call against the tide
Those distant days are flashing by

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and be by your side
Hold back the river, hold back

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and see where you hide
Hold back the river, hold back

Hold oho, oho
Oho, oho

Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander
Let us hold each other
Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander
Let us hold each other

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and be by your side
Hold back the river, hold back

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and be by your side
Hold back the river, hold

Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander
Let us hold each other
Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander
Let us hold each other


Lyrics submitted by Abbie96

"Hold Back the River" as written by James Bay Iain Archer

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Hold Back The River song meanings
Add your thoughts

6 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General Commentwooo- i thought this board would be fill of comments-- anyway it appears he is singing to somebody that was once very close to him [could be a lover or a childhood friend ''dear friend....we rode our bikes into the sky'].

    Anyway he has tried to keep their relationship strong but because of life's general circumstances which can distance even the closest relationships their relationship is no longer close and they have grown apart. Now he is asking this person to reconcile with him and to destroy this barrier that has formed between them 'hold back the river'. I read the river as a metaphor for the barrier that keeps them seperate and they way he says 'hold back the river, let me look in your eyes' connects the river to tears so he is sad that this relationship has deteriorated.
    billythepubon June 17, 2015   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationMy idea is that "Hold back the river" means to stop crying so he can look in your eyes. I might be wrong but that's how I interpreted the song. :)
    kathcarl1on July 28, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe this song is all about the disintegration of a relationship caused by the fierce speed of time.
    'Hold back the river' is nuanced with similarities to the metaphor of the 'tides of time.'
    'But now we're caught against the tide' is probably the strongest lyric to support this view; that the protagonists cannot resist the degenerative force of time.
    'Lonely water' is testament to the inevitable nature of time - that it causes loneliness eventually.
    'Let us hold each other' mirrors the 'hold back the river' ideal which seems to plead with time to pause in order to appreciate a perfect moment unhindered by the degradation of time.

    In many ways a sad song, pleading for the impossible to make perfect an imperfect world.
    JJameson November 17, 2015   Link
  • +1
    QuestionThis is bugging me for some reason and I would love other opinions! In the 2nd verse the lyric as written on this site and numerous others is "we call against the tide" - which makes NO sense to me. I've seen one site with "we're caught against the tide" - which does make sense and another site with "we crawl against the tide" - which is what I think is the correct lyric. Other opinions?
    BTW, I'm new here and appreciate any help/comments!!! Thanks!
    Donny11197on June 12, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationFor me this perfectly typifies where I am in my Life journey and can't imagine truly moving beyond it really despite how I may appear to people who don't truly know me.

    Dementia is the cleverest of thieves and it continually/daily steals more and more of my mother and I wish I could stop time (the River) and or at least slow it down, as I'm nowhere near ready to say goodbye or accept this deterioration of the greatest influence in my life and my best friend leaving me behind to a place I cannot go.
    DianaPaigeon August 27, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI cannot believe James' songs don't have more comments. As someone who is about to graduate high school and essentially start over with many lifelong friends going in completely different directions, this song connects with me. I think it's basically about holding back the river so we can truly value friendships and reminiscing on his childhood friendships. I dunno, but it connects with me that way.
    arobinson99on February 26, 2017   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