River (Joni Mitchell song)

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Song by Joni Mitchell
from the album Blue
Released June 1971
Genre Folk
Length 4:00
Label Reprise
Songwriter(s) Joni Mitchell
Producer(s) Joni Mitchell
Blue track listing
"This Flight Tonight"
"A Case of You"

"River" is a Christmas folk song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. Although never released as a single, it has become one of Mitchell's most recorded songs.[1]

The song is about the recent breakup of a romantic relationship, with the singer longing to escape her emotional bonds as they are painful to her. Although the song is merely set near Christmas time, rather than being about Christmas, it has become something of a modern Christmas standard. "River" is the second-most widely recorded song in Mitchell's oeuvre (432 recordings, behind only "Both Sides, Now"),[1] frequently appearing on albums of Christmas music by pop, folk and jazz artists.

The piano accompaniment to the vocal borrows heavily from the tune to the nineteenth century winter song "Jingle Bells".

It was covered by Barry Manilow in his 2002 album A Christmas Gift of Love with only one verse change involving a gender flip.[2] It charted as a single at No. 17 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts. Sarah McLachlan also covered it on her 2006 album Wintersong and released it as a single.[3] Her cover charted at No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Contemporary charts.[4]


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