Phonetics with M-E

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The River (Bruce Springsteen)
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Writer Robert Hilburn deemed the song "a classic outline of someone who has to re-adjust his dreams quickly, facing life as it is, not a world of his imagination."

Throughout the song the river is viewed as a symbol for the dreams of the future. The narrator keeps his hopes alive even as they realistically begin to fail.

I come from down in the valley
where mister when you're young
They bring you up to do it like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school
when she was just seventeen
We'd ride out of this valley down to where the fields were green

We'd go down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we'd ride

Then I got Mary pregnant
and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday
I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

But I remember us riding in my brother's car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
my baby and I
Oh down to the river we did ride

So the river represents your youth's dreams. It is how life flows when you are young, advancing towards the future like it's never going to end. But then, when you grow up, sooner or later you find that the river starts drying or, as in this song, it suddenly dries up (when she got pregnant), and then you have to stop dreaming and face reality as it is.

This song is based on conversations Springsteen had with his brother-in-law. After losing his construction job, he worked hard to support his wife and young child, but never complained. The shotgun wedding in the story relates to Springsteen's sister, who got married when she was still a teenager. She knew it was about her and her husband the first time she heard it.

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© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || InfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAbout
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