Somewhere Down the Crazy River

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"Somewhere Down the Crazy River"
Single by Robbie Robertson
from the album Robbie Robertson
Released 1989
Genre Rock
Length 4:57[1]
Label Geffen Records[2]
Writer(s) Robbie Robertson[2]
Producer(s) Dan Lanois/Peter Gabriel[2]

"Somewhere Down the Crazy River" is a 1987 song by Robbie Robertson with Sam Llanas on backing vocals.[2] It made No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart,[3] No. 24 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks[4] and won Robertson and Dan Lanois the Producer of the Year Award for 1989.[5]


When one of the producers, Dan Lanois, was asked about the inspiration for "Somewhere Down the Crazy River", he said that the song was "kind of like a guy with a deep voice telling you about steaming nights in Arkansas". He went on to say that Robertson was describing his experiences of hanging out in his old neighbourhood of Arkansas with Levon Helm (fellow The Band member) during hot nights in which they were "fishing with dynamite" and had asked a local for directions to "somewhere down the crazy river".[6]

In terms of composition, the song features a "sweet and wonderful" chord sequence on the Suzuki Omnichord, which had been introduced to Lanois by Brian Eno. As Robertson developed the chord sequence, Lanois surreptitiously recorded him and superimposed his storytelling on top.[6]

Music video[edit]

A music video was commissioned for the song. It features Maria McKee and the BoDeans. Steve Spears of Tampa Bay Times notes in his review for it that "[t]hings get pretty steamy near the end of the video for Robertson and McKee as the two seem to take method acting seriously".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

The song was subject to mixed reviews by critics. Steve Spears of Tampa Bay Times called the song "sexy",[7] whereas Mark Deming of AllMusic wrote that Robertson was "exploring the same iconography of the Band's best work, but without the same grace or subtle wit".[1]


Additional personnel[edit]

  • Sammy BoDean (Sam Llanas) – backing vocal
  • Bono – vocals

Use in media[edit]

  • The song appeared in the 1999 Canadian compilation album Then.[8]
  • The song also appeared in the 1988 compilation album The Hits Album 9.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Robbie Robertson (booklet). Robbie Robertson. Geffen Records. 1987. 
  3. ^ "HOWIE B FEATURING ROBBIE ROBERTSON". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "allmusic (((Robbie Robertson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  5. ^ "Yearly Summary | The JUNO Awards". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  6. ^ a b Tong, Allan (September 2007). "Daniel Lanois Web Exclusive Interview". Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  7. ^ a b "Wednesday lost and found: Robbie Robertson 'Somewhere Down the Crazy River'". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Then (booklet). Various Artists. EMI. 1999. 
  9. ^ The Hits Album 9 (booklet). Various Artists. BMG, CBS and WEA. 1988.