26 Best Songs About Rivers (In The Title & Lyrics)

Throughout human history, rivers have been the lifeblood of our planet and entire civilizations, from the Egyptians along the Nile River to the massive Amazon river, which is the heartbeat of the Amazon rainforest.

Rivers can be calming and soothing. But they can also be a raging torrent of unbridled energy and force. This has made rivers an ideal metaphor for musicians to convey feelings and ideas. This list explores the best songs that feature rivers as a central theme.

Table of Contents

“Moon River” By Andy Williams

Album: Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes
Genre: Traditional Pop
Released: 1962

Andy Williams is an icon of the music industry with a career that spanned over 70 years. A superstar that recorded 43 albums and went on to sell over 45 million records worldwide. But one of his most memorable songs is this timeless classic.

It was first recorded for the Breakfast At Tiffany’s motion picture, this song went on to be a huge success for several artists, but this rendition by Andy Williams is by far the most iconic and memorable. A smooth, easy-listening masterpiece.

Similar Playlist: Songs About The Sea

“Cry Me A River” By Justin Timberlake

Album: Justified
Genre: Pop / R&B
Released: 2002

Speaking of music icons, Justin Timberlake is a megastar and among the world’s best-selling music artists. Originally part of the 90’s era boy band NSYNC, he went on to forge a dominant solo career with over 88 million records sold.

This song was from his first solo album and cemented his status as a viable solo star. It hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and reached the top 10 in several countries, making it a global hit. But it was just the start of what would end up being a legendary music career that is still going strong.

Similar Playlist: Water Songs

“Proud Mary” By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Album: Bayou Country
Genre: Southern Rock / Folk Rock
Released: 1969

This song by Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the most recognizable songs with the word river in the lyrics. Released as a single in 1969, it was one of the standout songs from their second album with an undeniable swamp rock vibe.

It was also a commercial success and sold 2 million copies in the United States, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But it wasn’t just a hit in the US, with top 10 positions in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It was also famously covered by Tina Turner and Ike in 1971.

Similar Playlist: Songs With Mountain In The Title

“Rivers” by Thomas Jack

Album: Single Release Only
Genre: Tropical House
Released: 2015

This song by Australian DJ and record producer Thomas Jack is ideal for a summer road trip. It lures you in with an acoustic melody before launching into a smooth and catchy vocal performance that stays with you long after the song finishes.

The song has received 26 million views on YouTube but never reached the mainstream charts in the US. But it was popular in the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, and Sweden. An infectious and uplifting song that is worth a listen.

Similar Playlist: Songs With Trees In The Lyrics

“The River” by Delta Goodrem

Album: Wings Of The Wild
Genre: Pop
Released: 2016

Let’s stay in the land down under with this fantastic song from superstar Delta Goodrem. By the time this single was released, she already had three successful albums in her catalog, and this fourth album ended up topping the Australian Albums charts.

You’ve been missing out if you’ve never heard of Delta Goodrem. She has a powerful and dynamic voice that will instantly draw you in, and this song is no exception with its engaging story detailing infidelity and murder. 

Similar Playlist: Best Island Songs

“Rivers of Babylon” by Boney M

Album: Nightflight to Venus
Genre: Reggae / Eurodisco
Released: 1978

No list of songs with rivers in the title would be complete without this legendary song by Boney M. While it might not have been an original song, the German-based disco band certainly elevated it to new heights.

It was a smash hit worldwide, with over 2 million copies sold in the UK alone. It also reached the number one position in Australia, Finland, Norway, and Ireland, to name a few. A sensational song from the 70s disco era.

Similar Playlist: Songs With Desert In The Lyrics

“River” by Bishop Briggs

Album: Church of Scars
Genre: Pop
Released: 2016

Next on our list of songs with river in the title and lyrics is this outstanding song by British singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs. It’s a thumping and punchy piece infused with epic lyrical delivery.

The lyrics focus on a strained relationship, and there is an undeniable level of tension throughout this song. It went on to sell 2 million copies in the United States. It has also accumulated over 250 million views on YouTube.

“Many Rivers to Cross” by Jimmy Cliff

Album: Jimmy Cliff
Genre: Reggae
Released: 1969

Many Rivers to Cross is another superb song about rivers that has been covered by a long list of artists, including John Lennon, Cher, UB40, and Bryan Adams. But it all began with the original by Jimmy Cliff.

Jimmy wrote the song at the tender age of 21. Despite his young age, the lyrical composition and delivery display incredible depth and maturity. While some might prefer the cover versions from other artists, the original is still a must-listen.

“River” by Miley Cyrus

Album: Endless Summer Vacation
Genre: Dance-Pop
Released: 2023

Miley Cyrus has a knack for reinventing herself. As she has matured, so has her sound. This release from her eighth studio album, Endless Summer Vacation, perfectly highlights this growth.

It packs plenty of energy and bravado and makes excellent use of the legendary Roland 303 for pulsating synths. Plus, Miley does a stellar job with her biting vocal style. With a slick black-and-white music video, it clocked up 15 million views in just two weeks. Pop has never sounded so good.

“Down by the River” by Milky Chance

Album: Sadnecessary
Genre: Folktronica
Released: 2014

I’m a massive fan of all music genres, but I especially like genres that don’t get much mainstream attention. This unique song from the German folk duo Milky Chance is the type of music that often flies under the radar.

It is literally about the river Fulda in Germany, and it flows and ebbs just like a river would. It was also featured in the FIFA 15 video game, earning the duo a legion of new fans and going on to hit over 100 million views on YouTube. A haunting, mesmerizing, and unique song about a river.

“River” by Leon Bridges

Album: Coming Home
Genre: Contemporary Soul
Released: 2015

Soul music is alive and well and experiencing a resurgence thanks to fantastic songs like this one by Leon Bridges. With gospel elements, it has struck a chord with fans and is one of the standout songs from his debut album.

The album reached number 6 in the United States and was a top 10 album seller in the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands. It also picked up a nomination for Best R&B Album but lost out to Black Messiah by D’Angelo & The Vanguard.

“The River” by AURORA

Album: A Different Kind of Human (Step 2)
Genre: Electro Pop
Released: 2019

Norwegian singer-songwriter and record producer AURORA delivers a stunning vocal performance in this song with a river as a central theme. Even more inspiring considering how young she is.

This song was the third single from her second studio album, and the album received positive reviews from critics and fans. With a unique style and a captivating voice, I’m sure she will continue to deliver outstanding music in the years to come.

“River” By Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran

Album: Revival
Genre: Hip-Hop
Released: 2017

I don’t think I could think of a more unlikely duo to perform together than Eminem and Ed Sheeran, but here we are! And to be honest, I’m glad they got together for this song from Eminem’s ninth studio album because the result is fantastic.

The song was a commercial success for the rapper and reached the number 1 position in the UK with over 1 million copies sold. It also climbed to number 11 on the US Billboard charts and was popular across Europe.

13 Bonus Songs About Rivers

“Dam That River” By Alice In Chains
“Down By The River” By Neil Young
“Following the River” by The Rolling Stones
“The River” by Good Charlotte ft. M. Shadows, Synyster Gates
“River Euphrates” by Pixies
“Harlem River” by Kevin Morby
“River Of Dreams” By Billy Joel
“I Am A River” By Foo Fighters
“River So Wide” by Phil Collins
“The River” By Bruce Springsteen
“Watching the River Flow” by Bob Dylan
“Whiskey River” by Willie Nelson
“Blue River” by Elvis Presley

Watch The Full Playlist

The full playlist with every song in this post can be watched via the video below or directly on our YouTube channel.

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Article by Robert Calabrese
Article by Robert Calabrese

Robert has over 15 years of experience working in the digital marketing industry. From a very young age he was influenced by music theory as part of his education and played a variety of instruments. From there, his passion moved into electronic music and the equipment used to create it. Using his education and experience, Robert started his own digital marketing company and successfully operates his business in the music industry.

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