Hey now, little speedy head,
The read on the speed meter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve
Don't be shy
Your just deserve
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that passed before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river's goal,
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river,
Bergamot and Vetiver
Run through my head and fall away
Leave the road and memorize
This life that passed before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

There's no one left to take the lead,
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of Ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rows of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way


Lyrics submitted by shut, edited by JackD02025

Find The River song meanings
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36 Comments

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  • +6
    My InterpretationAutomatic for the People is my favorite album, and Find the River may be my favorite track on it. The entire album deals with different stages of life, from youth, to mid life crisis, to death, and at points the record does take the listener to a melancholy place. I'm fairly certain Find the River was chosen for the final track very purposefully. Like other tracks on the record it is a song about nearing the end, but instead of feeling any bitterness or regret, they rejoice in a great hope that someone they love will experience all the beauty that they have as the cycle of life continues. It offers a peace of mind knowing that loved ones will follow to see and experience the beauty of life beyond your own years. It takes Automatic for the People full circle and offers the listener a grand sense of hope despite loss.

    I often think of my Grandmother who has passed when I hear this song. The lessons she taught me, the hope that she instilled in me. She knew near the end, that life, its much bigger than ones self, its how you impact others, how you love, so that you in an essence can live beyond the grave through the people that cared about you.

    That's what I believe Find the River is about.
    Cliff1975on June 28, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHow are there not more comments for this, the most beautiful of songs? The imagery here is pretty vivid, it always reminds me of running through summer fields and floating down country rivers; lines like "I have got to find the river/Bergamot and vetiver/Run through my head and fall away" bring me back to summers spent in the country.

    The song is, of course, about trying to grow up so fast ("Hey there little speedyhead"), only to look back as an old man and be overwhelmed by the beautiful memories. It's about trying in vain to communicate to the young what lies ahead, when "There is nothing left to throw of ginger, lemon, indigo, coriander stem, rose of hay ... all of this is coming your way." But, alas, the words fall on deaf ears, the young man's "strength and courage overrides the privileged and weary eyes of river poet search naivete."

    This is said to be a very personal song for Michael Stipe, and it shows through in his voice and the cryptic, quickfire nature of his words. Everything comes together in this song to make it REM's best.
    ballzofsnoon April 29, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti agree with t'other comment. its about taking stock and appreciating. slowing down (see first line) and savouring the time, as if the tide is going to reel in again as quick as it came. but also a look to the future with anticipation, not a look back, maybe even a change of what you can expect. its just a fitting meaning for the final track on a great album.
    breezy152on August 23, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHey now, little speedyhead,
    the read on the speedmeter says
    you have to go to task in the city
    where people drown and people serve.

    [ Old man to young man: "It's time for you to leave home and make your way out there, in a dangerous world." ]

    Don't be shy. Your just deserve
    is only just light years to go.

    [ "Take risks. You have many years ahead of you." ]

    Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
    ocean storm, bayberry moon.
    I have got to leave to find my way.

    [ "Me, I'm a poet, a dreamer. I've always chosen to find my own path in life, because that's my way."]

    Watch the road and memorize
    this life that pass before my eyes.
    Nothing is going my way.

    [ "Keep your eyes open and remember what I'm telling you about my life. These lessons will serve you well." ]

    The ocean is the river's goal,
    a need to leave the water knows
    We're closer now than light years to go.

    [ "We all live independently, and we all someday die. You never have as much time as you imagine you do." ]

    I have got to find the river,
    bergamot and vetiver
    run through my head and fall away.

    [ "I've got to find my path in life. It's a unique one, an artist's path, a poet's path." ]

    Leave the road and memorize
    this life that pass before my eyes.
    Nothing is going my way.

    [ "Don't follow everybody else. Set your own course. Learn from me and my life. Nothing has been easy, but it's been good because it's been mine."]

    There's no one left to take the lead,
    but I tell you and you can see
    we're closer now than light years to go.

    [ "There's not many others out there like you and me, independents who see and do things in our own unique way." ]

    Pick up here and chase the ride.
    The river empties to the tide.
    Fall into the ocean.

    [ "Start. Go forth. Live life -- your life. Do it now, because some day you're going to die." ]

    The river to the ocean goes,
    a fortune for the undertow.

    [ "All paths in life end." ]

    None of this is going my way.

    [ "My life will end soon." ]

    There is nothing left to throw
    of Ginger, lemon, indigo,
    coriander stem and rose of hay.

    [ "I've made all beauty that I can in life. I've reached the end of my art, so now I know I'm nearing the end of my life." ]

    Strength and courage overrides
    the privileged and weary eyes
    of river poet search naivete.

    [ "Young artists must always take the place of older ones." ]

    Pick up here and chase the ride.
    The river empties to the tide.
    All of this is coming your way

    [ "It's your turn. Follow your artistic bliss. I've done everything I'm going to do, and I'm content and ready to be done with life, with art, with love." ]
    PencilNeckedGeekon April 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is clearly about death. I figure it is about someone who had to leave their home and their parents to start their own life and before you know it that persons' parent(s) are dead.

    There's no one left to take the lead,
    but I tell you and you can see
    we're closer now than light years to go.

    This is obviously aimed at a sibling. The loss of family members, especially parents, pulls the members that are remaining together. 'No one left to take the lead' refers to the heads of the family passing away.

    Michael Stipe once said this:

    "Find the River to me has a lot of emotional baggage. It doesn't have that much to do with anything that would make sense to anyone else but me, particularly. I know the place I wrote it. I know the connections I had with it when I wrote it. I know connections that came afterwards, people that died. So yes, I can sing that song... but we've tried and tried to work it into some form which will translate live and for whatever reason we can't seem to play it. It's like a curse."

    It has to be written about people who are very close to him.
    MalcolmBon February 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTotally love this song which is very touching - memories of a dear friend who has moved on from this world and reached his ocean but his river was awesome. This is my anthem to him, and whenever I hear Find the River I think of him.
    jimbo42on June 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it means that sometimes...you gotta just stop and smell the roses (for lack of a better cliche- and believe me, I proudly know and live by them all!) Kudos to my man Stipe. To paraphrase him, in all due respect, my sh*t hangs "low, low, low."
    humdrumon May 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis Has to be R.E.M.'s finest effort! It's so beautiful! All those harmonies....it's simply breathtaking. The way I see it it's about growing up, and how that's like a very long road. We all join the river, the river eventually finds the ocean. The video is also interesting, with the old man going for a walk. But the bes bit of the video is near the end when you see the sea/ocean and the waves crashing onto the rocks, the climax of the song. Awesome.
    jc499on October 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe river takes you to the ocean, which is where youre ultimatly going. Figure out where youre going.
    MtterOFctItsAllDrkon October 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a beatiful melodic song.

    Yes one of their very best, no doubt.
    Monkey Boyon January 24, 2005   Link

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