The River of Dreams

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"The River of Dreams"
RiverofDreams (single).jpg
Single by Billy Joel
from the album River of Dreams
B-side "The Great Wall of China"
Released July 19th, 1993 (UK)
September 1st, 1993 (US)
Format 7-inch, CD, cassette single
Recorded 1992, in New York City
Genre Pop rock, gospel
Length 4:05 (album version)
5:21 (original version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Billy Joel
Producer(s) Joe Nicolo, Danny Kortchmar
Billy Joel singles chronology
"All Shook Up"
"The River of Dreams"
"All About Soul"

"The River of Dreams" is a song by Billy Joel. It is the title track and first single from his 1993 album River of Dreams. The song was a hit, peaking at #3 on the United States and UK charts, making it Joel's highest charting of the 1990s (River of Dreams was the only album he released during the 1990s). It also hit the top spot in Australia and on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The song was produced by Joe Nicolo and Danny Kortchmar.

At least four versions of the song have been recorded and released. Two versions (released years later) include a bridge section containing a piano interlude paralleling Joel's melody from his song "Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)," which is from the same album. These versions can be found on the boxed sets My Lives and Complete Hits Collection: 1973-1999 - but even these versions differ from each other, both in length and in arrangement: one, for instance, has more percussion. A fourth mix appears as a bonus cut on the UK CD single of "River of Dreams" — the "percapella mix" done by Nicolo.

"The River of Dreams" was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Record of the Year award, but it lost out to "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston.

In 1993, Gary Zimmerman, a songwriter from Long Island, New York, attempted to sue Joel for ten million dollars, claiming more than half of "River Of Dreams" was based on his 1986 song "Nowhere Land."[1] Joel claimed he had no knowledge of Zimmerman or his music, and Zimmerman dropped the lawsuit in 1994.[2]


At 3 minutes 45 seconds into the song, you can hear Joel singing The Cadillacs' version of "Gloria" as the song fades out.

Music video[edit]

The official music video for the song was directed by Andy Morahan.[3] The ferry featured is the Rocky Hill – Glastonbury Ferry in Connecticut.

In the video, the filming was shot on the Providence & Worcester railroad bridge spanning the Connecticut River in the city of Middletown, Connecticut. Other locations that were filmed in the music video are near Portland, East Haddam, and Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The scenes inside the tobacco barn with Joel on the piano were filmed inside a still used tobacco barn in South Glastonbury, Connecticut. Joel and three backup singers appear throughout the video standing on the western span of the bridge, with the open center section of the bridge behind them. Joel's then-wife Christie Brinkley can be seen painting the artwork that features on the front cover of the album River of Dreams. She is the illustrator who painted the actual album artwork, and each single released from the album featured one part of the large painting as cover art. Their 7-year-old daughter Alexa Ray Joel appears to be the young girl who is briefly shown before the scene with her mother.

Elton John's video for his 1999 song "You Gotta Love Someone", also directed by Morahan, is very similar to this video and features the same lighting, locations and camera angles.

Notable performances[edit]

Joel performed the song during the 1994 Grammy Awards telecast. In that performance, Joel left a long pause in the middle of the song to protest the decision to cut off Frank Sinatra's acceptance speech after Sinatra received that year's Grammy Legend Award. During the pause, Joel noted he was wasting "valuable advertising time."

Track listing[edit]

UK CD single[edit]

All songs written by Billy Joel.

  1. "The River of Dreams" – 4:05
  2. "The River of Dreams" (Percapella mix)
  3. "The Great Wall of China" – 5:45

Japanese 3" CD single[edit]

All songs written by Billy Joel.

  1. "The River of Dreams" – 4:07
  2. "No Man's Land" – 4:49 [4]

Chart positions[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[5] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 11
Canada (RPM)[8] 2
France (SNEP)[9] 4
Germany (Official German Charts)[10] 4
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 2
Italy (FIMI)[12] 26
Japan (Oricon)[13] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[14] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[16] 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[17] 8
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[18] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[19] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 3
US Adult Contemporary[20] 1
US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 2
Zimbabwe Singles (ZIMA)[21] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Position
Australia Singles Chart[22] 13
Canadian Singles Chart[23] 12
Netherlands Singles Chart[24] 41
New Zealand Singles Chart[25] 8
Norwegian Singles Chart (Julen Period)[26] 16
Swiss Singles Chart[27] 37
US Billboard Hot 100[28] 26
Preceded by
"(I Can't Help) Falling in Love with You" by UB40
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
August 28, 1993 - September 4, 1993 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf
Preceded by
"I Don't Wanna Fight" by Tina Turner
New Zealand Singles Chart
September 11 - November 27, 1993 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Said I Loved You...But I Lied" by Michael Bolton
Preceded by
"I Don't Wanna Fight" by Tina Turner
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
September 11 - November 27, 1993
Succeeded by
"Said I Loved You...But I Lied" by Michael Bolton


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[29] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[30] Silver 125,000*
Germany (BVMI)[31] Gold 250,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Songwriter Says He Lit Creative Fire Under Joel - Deseret News". 
  2. ^ "Songwriter Drops Fruitless Suit Against Billy Joel - Deseret News". 
  3. ^ Garcia, Alex S. " - Billy Joel - "The river of dreams"". Music Video DataBase. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  6. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  7. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  8. ^ "100 Hit Tracks". RPM. 58 (14). October 16, 1993. ISSN 0033-7064. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  10. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "River of Dreams". IRMA. Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Indice per Interprete: J" (in Italian). Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Oricon Singles Chart". Oricon (in Japanese). Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  15. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  16. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". VG-lista. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  17. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". Singles Top 100. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  18. ^ " – Billy Joel – The River of Dreams". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  19. ^ "Archive Chart: 1993-09-04" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Billy Joel – Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  22. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 50 Singles 1993". ARIA. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  23. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1993". RPM. 58 (23). December 18, 1993. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1993". GfK Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Swiss Year-end Charts 1993". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1993". Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Billy Joel – River of Dreams" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved February 10, 2013.  Enter Billy Joel in the field Interpret. Enter River of Dreams in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  30. ^ "French single certifications – JOEL Billy – The River of Dreams" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved February 10, 2013.  Select JOEL BILLY and click OK
  31. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Billy Joel; 'The River of Dreams')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 

External links[edit]