"Ride Across The River" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
I'm a soldier of freedom in the army of man
We are the chosen, we're the partisan
The cause it is noble and the cause it is just
We are ready to pay with our lives if we must

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide
Ride across the river to the other side

I'm a soldier of fortune, I'm a dog of war
And we don't give a damn who the killing is for
It's the same old story with a different name
Death or glory, it's the killing game

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide
Ride across the river to the other side

Nothing gonna stop them as the day follows the night
Right becomes wrong, the left becomes the right
And they sing as they march with their flags unfurled
Today in the mountains, tomorrow the world

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide
Ride across the river to the other side


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Ride Across the River" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Ride Across The River song meanings
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  • +3
    Song MeaningI always saw the first verse of the song as being sung by a rebel, and the second by his adversary - a mercenary 'dog of war', and the third is a commentary on the futility of their struggle.

    The words of two characters have a certain cliched, apathetic quality to them, as if even the "soldier of freedom in the army of man" doesn't really believe in what he is doing any more. The song could be about any of the countless wars where two sides, each as bad as eachother, have duked out on the battlefield for the illusion of victory.
    ch123on June 27, 2010   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningIt seems to be about the futility of war and the people who choose to fight. The first verse describes the idealist who is fighting for a cause, who believes his struggle is somehow special ("we are the chosen, we're the partisan"). The second verse is the mercenary who provides a contrast with the idealist- he has no illusions that what he's doing is somehow specially justified or worthwhile, all causes are alike to him, it's just business.

    'Riding across the river' presumably signifies the struggle, an obstacle they need to cross. Both the idealist and the mercenary are shown engaging in this objective- it would seem there is no real distinction between the two. In war, when so many atrocities end up occurring and there is no clear sense of what is justified- "right becomes wrong, the left becomes right". Is the idealist, who thinks he is fighting for a just cause, really any better than the mercenary who has no morals, and no scruples?
    TheLyniezianon April 24, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA song about men fighting wars endlessly through history. It reminds me of a river I saw in a remote mountainy place in Pakistan (Gomal River). It was said to be the pass used by the army of Alexander and/or the Mongol army, when invading India from Central Asia - today in the mountains, tomorrow the world, the myth that keeps men fighting.
    Rivers have marked frontiers since forever. Crossing the river - as in the phrase crossing the Rubicon - is like an irrevocable step.
    I think the river can also be the frontier of life and death. It is at least a passage into the unknown, toward an uncertain fate.
    jimqukon October 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I was a DJ in college, we used the intro of this song as the "bed" for our station ID. So, whenever I hear it, I can always hear, "WLHA, 94.1 FM, Madison" over it...
    Kenobi65on June 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a part of the overall anti-war theme pervading the entire \"Brothers in Arms\" album.
    This song appears to be about mercenaries.
    It opended their Sydney 1986 concert at the Entertainment Centre (and what a great concert it was too for a band at their zenith).
    chrisb1on April 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with all of the above.
    The song is either about all soldiers or, more specifically, about soldiers turned mercenaries ("Right becomes wrong").
    The beginning of the intro reminds me a bit of South American folk tunes and instruments, so I always think of guerilleros (who sometimes fight for a better society and sometimes for drug lords) when I hear it, but of course that's only a personal interpretation and certainly not intended by Mark Knopfler.
    berzerkon January 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about mercenaries. Here's the pivotal verse that betrays the meaning:

    "I'm a soldier of fortune, I'm a dog of war
    And we don't give a damn who the killing is for
    It's the same old story with a different name
    Death or glory, it's the killing game"
    MarkSavedSwordsmanon October 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about mercenaries:

    "I'm a soldier of freedom in the army of man
    We are the chosen, we're the partisan"

    (Wikipedia: Partisan (military) - As a name for irregular forces..."

    Further it sounds more like "army of a man" not "army of men" and that describes it much better.
    megaheldon September 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningIt's about the early eighties conflict in Central America. There is a river located near the border of two countries over which recon and hunter-killer missions were staged.
    Also, most all folks that venture to foreign lands and get shot at and shoot people are mercenaries.
    Nobody does it for fun. Been there, done that.

    Just my two cents. Great song though.
    markski62on May 29, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentch123 gets it.
    Ultimitely both of the characters in the song are the same. The fighting will corrupt the "noble" partisan (if he were ever truly noble except in his own eyes); and the compromising of principals. The mercenary has a more realistic; if unglorified.
    War is a dirty, nasty business (western terminology), sometimes necessary (and what is to me, isn't to you; so again we compromise); but still dirty.
    cybersaberon December 28, 2010   Link

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