Yellow River (song)

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"Yellow River"
Yellow River - Christie.jpg
Single by Christie
from the album Christie
B-side"Down the Mississippi Line"
Released23 April 1970 (1970-04-23)
GenreRock, pop rock
LabelCBS (UK) Epic (US)
Songwriter(s)Jeff Christie
Producer(s)Mike Smith
Christie singles chronology
"Yellow River"
"San Bernadino"
Alternative cover
Music video
"Yellow River" on YouTube

"Yellow River" is a popular song recorded by the British band Christie. Written by band leader Jeff Christie, it was offered to The Tremeloes, who recorded it with the intention of releasing it as a single early in 1970. However, after the success of their then most recent single, "Call Me Number One", and after considering it too pop-orientated for their future direction, they decided to follow it up with another of their own compositions, "By the Way", which was only a minor Top 40 success.

Producer Mike Smith therefore took their vocals off the recording and added those of Jeff Christie. Released on 23 April 1970, it became an international hit, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart for one week in June 1970. In the US, it reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[1]

The actual location of Yellow River in this song is not specified, although the author, Jeff Christie, is on record as saying that it was inspired by the idea of a soldier going home at the end of the American Civil War.[2] As the song was released during the Vietnam War, it has been interpreted as being about a soldier leaving the U.S. Military at the end of his period of conscription.

Chart performance[edit]

Country Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 16
Finland 1
Germany 2
Ireland 1
Japan 14
Netherlands[4] 4
New Zealand (Listener)[5] 2
Norway 1
Switzerland 4
United Kingdom 1
United States 23

Other versions[edit]

"Yellow River" has spawned a host of cover versions by artists as diverse as R.E.M., Leapy Lee, Elton John, The Compton Brothers, Middle of the Road, Chris Rea, Bernd Spier, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and Joe Dassin (his cover named "L'Amérique" reached No.1 in French charts).[6]

In Australia, Christie's version of Yellow River gained only limited airplay due to the 1970 radio ban. Local bands Jigsaw from Melbourne and Autumn from Sydney both had success with cover versions.[7]

Mexican group Banda La Mentira recorded a Spanish version called "Río amarillo" in 1995

Mexican group Banda Pachuco recorded a Spanish version called "En mi mundo" (In my world).

It was also released in Germany under the name "Lemme Ria".


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 126.
  2. ^ Youtube recording of interview, copyright to Nederlandse Programma Stichting, 2003, uploaded to Jeff Christie's Youtube channel, 4 February 2011 |
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 26, 1970". Retrieved 2008-03-03.
  5. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 14 September 1970
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Yellow River - Autumn". Retrieved 19 March 2010.