Remember When Garth Brooks Reached No. 1 With ‘The River’?
Garth Brooks is perhaps best known for his inspirational songs, and he scored one of the most important hits of his career in 1992 with “The River.”
Brooks co-wrote the song with Victoria Shaw, and it’s heavily influenced by James Taylor and the other acoustic singer-songwriters that were an important part of his early influences. The lyrics are a call to live the most authentic life you can, while there’s still time: “So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied / Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tide.”
It’s a message that Brooks’ fans have responded to strongly over the years.
“Of all songs, most of the letters I receive concern ‘The River,'” he wrote in the liner notes to his album The Hits. “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.”
Released as the fifth and final single from Brooks’ landmark Ropin’ the Wind album, “The River” reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s US Hot Country Songs chart on July 25, 1992.
Shaw recalls writing the song with Brooks in a tiny house in East Nashville, before either one of them had achieved any success. She admits he saw its potential before she did.
“That song really summed up where we were, such dreamers. We’re still like that,” she tells Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper. “But we were such big dreamers and really inspired. He came over and we wrote this song. I’ve told this story, that we put (the recording) on the boombox, and he’s sitting on the floor and I’m sitting on the couch, listening to it over and over, and he said, ‘Can’t you just imagine a stadium full of people waving their lighters, singing this song?’ And I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s so delusional. People don’t do that in country.’ And I learned such a good lesson.”
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