Let the River Run

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"Let the River Run"
Let the River Run Carly Simon.jpg
Single by Carly Simon
from the album Working Girl (Original Soundtrack Album)
Songwriter(s)Carly Simon
Producer(s)Rob Mounsey
Carly Simon
Carly Simon singles chronology
"All I Want Is You"
"Let the River Run"
"Better Not Tell Her"

"Let the River Run" is a song written, composed, and performed by American singer-songwriter Carly Simon, and the theme to the 1988 Mike Nichols film Working Girl.[1] The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1989. The song also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 46th Golden Globe Awards, tying with "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier from Buster, in 1989, and a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1990.[2]

The Working Girl soundtrack was released in 1989 and peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 200,[3] and also contains a choral version of the track featuring The St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys of New York City.[4]

Composition and reception[edit]

Simon has stated that she found inspiration for the lyrics by first reading the original script, and then the poems of Walt Whitman. Musically, she wanted to write a hymn to New York with a contemporary jungle beat under it, so as to juxtapose those opposites in a compelling way. A statement on Simon's official website acknowledges that "the phrases 'Silver Cities Rise' and 'The New Jerusalem' seem to have taken on a new meaning for many people, but the song was not originally composed with any particular political and/or religious overtones."[5] However, the phrase "new Jerusalem" has been recognized by other observers as an allusion to the works of William Blake.[6]

A music video for the song was filmed and released, featuring Simon, along with Working Girl actresses Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack, aboard the Staten Island Ferry.[7] As a single, the song reached peak positions of No. 49 on the Billboard Hot 100 (her last charting song as a solo artist on this chart to date), and No. 11 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1989.[8] The song remains one of Simon's best loved and most recognizable hits, and has been featured on multiple compilations of her work, including the three-disc box set Clouds in My Coffee (1995), the UK import The Very Best of Carly Simon: Nobody Does It Better (1998), the two-disc retrospective Anthology (2002), the single-disc Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits (2004), and Sony Music's Playlist: The Very Best of Carly Simon (2014).


Simon became the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award for a song composed and written, as well as performed, entirely by a single artist.[9]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref
1989 Academy Award Best Original Song Carly Simon Won [10]
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song Won [11]
Boston Music Awards Outstanding Song/Songwriter Nominated [12]
1990 British Academy Film Awards Best Film Music Carly Simon Nominated [13]
Grammy Award Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television Won [14]


Simon at the 61st Academy Awards (March 1989).

"Let the River Run" is the first of only two songs to have won all three major awards (Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy) while being composed and written, as well as performed, entirely by a single artist[15] – the other being "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen from Philadelphia. Barbra Streisand shared the Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy for "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)" which she composed and wrote with lyricist Paul Williams (for which she also won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). Annie Lennox won all three awards – for "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, sharing all three with co-composer and lyricists Fran Walsh and Howard Shore. More recently, Adele received the Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy for her "Skyfall" theme, co-written with producer Paul Epworth for the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

In 2001, the song was used for an advertisement for the United States Postal Service in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks.[16]

In 2004, the song was twice featured in the film Little Black Book,[17] Simon herself also appeared at the end of the film. That same year, the song was ranked at No. 91 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.[18]

In 2009, Simon re-recorded the song for her album Never Been Gone.[19] On September 11 of that year, Simon performed the song with her children, Sally Taylor and Ben Taylor, at the World Trade Center site to honor the lives lost in the destruction of the Twin Towers eight years earlier.[20]

In 2014, Simon released a single of the song covered by Máiréad Carlin and Damian McGinty which had been the anthem for Derry~Londonderry's UK City of Culture celebrations. McGinty and Carlin sang the song with Simon during the Oceana Partners Awards Gala in Beverly Hills, Ca.[21][22]

In January 2019, the song was the subject of an episode of BBC Radio 4's Soul Music, examining the song's cultural influence.[23]

In October 2019, the song was used behind the closing credits of Season 31, Episode 2 of the Fox TV show The Simpsons.[24]

In October 2019, as well as being the episode title, the song was used during several key moments during the first episode of Season 2 of Castle Rock[25]

Track listing[edit]

7" single [26]
  • "Let The River Run" – 3:40
  • "The Turn Of The Tide" – 4:04



Chart (1989) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts) 91
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company) 79
US Billboard Hot 100 49
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 11


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ "Carly Simon Official Website - Awards". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  3. ^ "Awards". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  4. ^ "Working Girl Soundtrack". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  5. ^ "Carly Simon Official Website - Ask Carly". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  6. ^ And did those feet in ancient time
  7. ^ "Let The River Run - Carly Simon". YouTube. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  8. ^ "Carly Simon - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
  9. ^ SIMON CARLY (April 18, 2012). "ASCAP Founders Award". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  10. ^ "Academy Awards Acceptance Speech Database - Carly Simon". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  11. ^ "Winners and Nominees - Carly Simon". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  12. ^ "Boston Music Awards 1989". Boston Music Awards. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  13. ^ "Original Film Score in 1990". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  14. ^ "Carly Simon". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  15. ^ "ASCAP Pop Music Award 2012". ASCAP. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  16. ^ Coloribus Creative Advertising Archive. "USPS "PRIDE" TV Commercial". Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  17. ^ Internet Movie Database. "Little Black Book". Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  18. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". June 22, 2004. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  19. ^ "Carly Simon Official Website - Never Been Gone". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on September 19, 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  20. ^ "9/11 Victims Honored at Ground Zero". Nbcnewyork.com. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  21. ^ "McGinty and Carlin represent Derry". Irish Music Daily. 16 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Carly Simon Official Website - News". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  23. ^ "Soul Music - Let the River Run". BBC Radio 4. 23 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Go Big or Go Homer". IMDb.com. 6 October 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Let the River Run". IMDb.com. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Let the River Run". Discogs.com. Retrieved 3 Jan 2020.

External links[edit]