River, river carry me on
Living river carry me on
River, river carry me on
To the place where I come from

So deep, so wide, will you take me on your back for a ride
If I should fall, would you swallow me deep inside

River, show me how to float
I feel like I'm sinking down
Thought that I could get along
But here in this water
My feet won't touch the ground
I need something to turn myself around

Going away, away towards the sea
River deep, can you lift up and carry me
Oh roll on though the heartland
'Til the sun has left the sky
River, river carry me high
'Til the washing of the water make it all alright
Let your waters reach me like she reached me tonight

Letting go, it's so hard
The way it's hurting now
To get this love untied
So tough to stay with thing
'Cause if I follow through
I face what I denied
I get those hooks out of me
And I take out the hooks that I sunk deep in your side
Kill that fear of emptiness, loneliness I hide

River, oh river, river running deep
Bring me something that will let me get to sleep
In the washing of the water will you take it all away
Bring me something to take this pain away

Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Washing Of The Water Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Washing Of The Water song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment
    I sung it as a lullaby to all three of my kids, just slow the tempo a bit
    ThoughtfulApeon December 05, 2009   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning
    This song to me is clear: the singer just had a call from an old lover, and the call was very painful. The words describe how he is trying very hard to stop thinking about it, and to think instead about water, about how it can calm, and heal, and lift and buoy...but then he re-triggers himself when he sings about the water reaching him "like she reached me tonight." And then, the 'floodgates' open, as he tells the truth about letting the relationship go, and the music crescendoes to coincide with the story of this massive pain he feels. After that, the music calms back down again, but now he's a little more honest and less metaphorical: he asks the water to bring him something to help him sleep, and finally, and most honestly of all, he asks the water, as it washes, to take away his pain. Mr. Gabriel says in the liner notes to the song's album, "Us," that every song on the album is about relationships. This one is no exception. One of my top five favorite songs of all time. Whenever I decide to give this a listen, I end up pushing 'repeat' on my car CD player as a kneejerk reaction, over and over, without even thinking about it.
    intellifanon June 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    To me, this song is about grief and how cleansing an act grieving can be. In the song the grief stems from a relationship, but for me that is just a jumping off point. In so much literature, water serves as a stand in for tears and emotion. Like some of the other responses, I agree that the water in this song serves as a baptism, but I have to disagree with others who seem to think that the water is purely a means to "washing pain away." The water IS the pain. That's the irony and paradox at the heart of this song and at the heart of a grief process: that experiencing pain is the antidote, that suffering is the key to solace.
    sparkpipon June 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Actually, this makes me think of "It's a Wonderful Life" With George Bailey standing on that bridge, ready to jump into the river. It's a decision point, will he wash away his pain, or wash away his life? Water can do one metaphorically, and one literally. What can turn a person around? Hope. Or just the decision not to jump. Sometimes, it can be harder to choose to let go of the pain, to choose to live.
    Doom Shepherdon August 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    This song is not just about a broken heart it's about a broken soul. "I'll get those hooks out of me and I'll take out the hooks I sunk deep in your side." Are you kidding me? The only person on earth who could hurt these two people they way they have hurt each other is each other. That's some heavy stuff. It's a big responsibilty to love some one that much because when things go bad you can dig into each other like no else can. Heavy stuff people. Mind blowing.
    blackseoulon October 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    This song nearly makes me cry; it's so beautiful and so moving, as is most of the album it's on. I love the sudden crescendo around the middle- "Letting go... it's so hard, the way it's hurting now..." That's what really gets me. Those lines are sung so painfully, so vulnerable I think... Very emotional song. I think it's about, well, letting go of the past, asking for the river to metaphorically heal the wounds.
    EnduringChillon May 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Surprised no one's said anything about this one. I think the song is about suffering something terrible in the past (heartache etc) and then taking steps to move on. The washing of the water imagary links back to the idea of purity/cleansing. Similar to a baptism where sins from the past are forgotten, and one begins with a clean slate. A really beautiful song.
    Wonderboy2kon December 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    It seems that, especially in the last bit, he is hoping that the water will, in turn, wash away the pain that he feels.
    K-nuxXxon July 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    "I need something to turn myself around", I still dont know what would really turn a person around
    misspellingon January 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    This amazing song is from a song cycle and makes sense only in this context. In the song before this (Blood of Eden), he gets back with his lover for one night. For a brief period, he feels whole again. But this creature comfort doesn't last. But he remembers how he could feel. I believe that "let your waters reach me like she reached me tonight" is him wanting this wholeness back again. Most of this album is about the grieving process and how vital it is. When you wash something with a bucket, the bucket water eventually gets as dirty as the thing you are cleaning. When doing the emotional work (forgiveness, self examination, etc.), you can only go so far alone. The washing of the water is a spiritual cleansing that can only happen when you are prepared for it. To me, this song is about asking for strength to do the work needed and the patience to wait for this cleansing. I recently experienced this cleansing, and it may well be the most profound experience of my life. After leaving an abusive relationship, I felt like I would never be whole again. I forgave and asked forgiveness for everything I wished I had done differently. About a year and a half after the relationship ended, I was setting on the couch and I could feel emotion boiling up like a tidal wave. When it first hit, I could feel betrayal, confusion and fifty other emotions, but no hate or anger. I knew somehow to embrace this, and for ten minutes I experience emotional pain like my father and dog just died. When it was over, all the damage was gone. Not just from this trauma, but all the baggage of a lifetime. Since that day, I have felt a joy that I did not believe was possible. It's been months now, and I am still trying to make sense of this. Some things are just a gift. Since that day, all I want to do is to help people heal. I have all the hard learned lessons without the scar tissue that goes with it. All I can say is some things are bigger than US.
    Devinskion November 02, 2019   Link

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