The River (Garth Brooks song)

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"The River"
Single by Garth Brooks
from the album Ropin' the Wind
B-side "We Bury The Hatchet"
Released April 27, 1992
Format CD single, 7" single
Recorded 1991
Genre Country
Length 4:25
Label Liberty 57765
Writer(s) Victoria Shaw, Garth Brooks[1]
Producer(s) Allen Reynolds
Garth Brooks singles chronology
"Papa Loved Mama"
"The River"
"We Shall Be Free"

"The River" is a song co-written and recorded by American country music singer Garth Brooks. It was released in April 1992 as the fifth and final single from his album Ropin' the Wind, and in late 1991 it became his ninth Number One hit on the Billboard country charts. The song was written by Brooks and Victoria Shaw. It has appeared on three albums that have sold more than ten million copies each in the US alone, these being Ropin' The Wind, The Hits and Double Live.


The song is a mid-tempo country pop ballad in which a river is used as a comparison to one's dreams. Through the lyric, the narrator says that he will continue to pursue his dreams.

Background and production[edit]

Garth provided the following background information on the song in the CD booklet liner notes from The Hits:

"Of all songs, most of the letters I receive concern "The River." It is a song of inspiration... a song that I will be proud of a hundred years from now. Victoria Shaw is a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend. And this is what happens when two dreamers get together and write from the heart. One of the greatest awards that this song has ever received was the fact that it was played at Dale Wehr's funeral. Quite an honor, cowboy."[2]

Additional personnel on the song included Kenny Malon on percussion, Edgar Meyer on bass, and Trisha Yearwood on harmony vocals.

Garth has stated that The River was inspired by childhood hero James Taylor.

Critical reception[edit]

Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the song as an "ambitious epic".[3] Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker considered it a standout track on the album, saying it "showcase[d]…his ability to imbue baleful country ballads with complex, soulful emotions."[4]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1992) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[5] 1
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1992) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[7] 35
US Country Songs (Billboard)[8] 43


  1. ^ Victoria Shaw | Official Web Site
  2. ^ Garth Brooks - The Hits: transcription from the CD booklet (bar code 7-2438-29689-2-4)
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ropin' the Wind review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  4. ^ Tucker, Ken (September 27, 1991). "Ropin' the Wind review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  5. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1983." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 8, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Garth Brooks – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Garth Brooks.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1992". RPM. December 19, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Best of 1992: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Saw the Light"
by Wynonna
Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks
number-one single

July 25, 1992
Succeeded by
"Boot Scootin' Boogie"
by Brooks & Dunn
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

August 8, 1992