Songs About Rivers

Rivers are powerful, spiritual, living life sources that carry water that falls from clouds back to the sea and there the sun's heat starts the cycle again. No doubt, many songs have been created while rafting the Salmon River, Snake River and Middle Fork of the Salmon. For ages rivers have inspired people with their mystery, strength and magic. Many a song has been written about rivers from the traditional Shenandoah, the religious "Rivers of Babylon," the political "Roll On Columbia" by Woodie Guthrie, the 1969 hit "Proud Mary" and dozens more.

One of the best collections of traditional songs about rivers is that of Mason Williams, "Of Time and Rivers Flowing." This collection of songs was inspired by the growing awareness of the importance of saving our rivers from unnecessary hydroelectric exploitation, and a concerted effort to help preserve what remains of America's wild, free-flowing streams. A chronological "river" of music and time, it is a reflection of "the river" metaphorically flowing through history. Spanning over 300 years, "OF TIME AND RIVERS FLOWING" is a tour de force of arrangement and performance, encompassing the realms of classical, folk, minstrel, gospel, jazz, country, pop, and contemporary rock. Mason has performed the program for benefits, conferences, and in concert. Included in this collection are the following titles:

  • The Banks of the Dee
  • Shenandoah
  • De Boatmen Dance
  • Deep River
  • The Beautiful Blue Danube
  • Cripple Creek
  • The Rivers of Texas
  • Mississippi Mud
  • Miss the Mississippi and You
  • Cool Water
  • Cruising Down the River
  • Moon River
  • Burn On
  • Of Time and Rivers Flowing


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Another favorite of ours is from the Bill Staines Album "Going to the West." The song titled "River" is a beautifully melodic song of rivers and life. To learn more visit

The Lewis and Clark Expedition followed rivers almost entirely for their mission was to find a passage from the east to the western sea. David Walburn has written a musical anthology of the expedition called "Lewis and Clark, West For America" with a number of bold, original tunes including "Roll Missouri Roll" and several others. Visit

Other River Song Titles:

  • Watching the River Go By - John Hartford
  • The River, Where She Sleeps and When I Go - Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer
  • Crayons and Roll On New River - Betty Elders
  • Deep River Blues - Doc Watson
  • Waist Deep in the Big Muddy - Pete Seeger
  • Down the Rio Grande - Tom Russell
  • Cold Missouri Waters - James Keelaghan
  • Flames Along the Monongahela - Peter Lang
  • Spoon River and You - Joel Mabus
  • Shanghaied on the Willamette and Paddling Down the Willamette River - Two-Man Crew

If you have a favorite you'd like us to add to this list, please send an email to Happy Listening and Singing!