Song Lyric Sunday — Down By The River

Jim Adam, who is filling in for Helen Vahdati in the Song Lyric Sunday prompt gave us “River/Stream/Creek/Brook” as this week’s theme. I have no doubt that this song by Neil Young, “Down By The River,” will be chosen by quite a few bloggers this week.

The song was written by Neil Young and was released on his 1969 album with Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

The song’s refrain, “Down by the river/I shot my baby/Down by the river,” suggests that the song is about a murder. But according to Young, it’s not. “It’s about blowing your thing with a chick. See,” he said, “now in the beginning, it’s ‘I’ll be on your side, you be on mine.’ It could be anything. Then the chick thing comes in. Then at the end it’s a whole other thing. It’s a plea…a desperation cry.”

But at a live concert in New Orleans, Young introduced the song by saying, “I’d like to sing you a song about a guy who had a lot of trouble controlling himself. He let the dark side side come thru a little too bright.” Then, Young goes on to the describe the murder, the killer’s arrest and, finally, the guilt he feels as he realizes what he’s done.

Some fans believe that the song is really a metaphor for some addictive drug. The notion is that it’s about banishing this addiction.

An interesting side note is that, according to the liner notes to his 1977 Greatest Hits album, Decade, Young said that he wrote this song, as well as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Cowgirl In The Sand,” in one day while sick with a high fever.

Here are the song’s lyrics.

Be on my side. I’ll be on your side, baby.
There is no reason for you to hide.
It’s so hard for me staying here all alone,
When you could be taking me for a ride.

She could drag me over the rainbow,
Send me away.

Down by the river,
I shot my baby.
Down by the river.

Dead, ooh, ooh, shot her dead, ooh.

You take my hand, I’ll take your hand.
Together we may get away.
This much madness is too much sorrow.
It’s impossible to make it today.

She could drag me over the rainbow,
Send me away.

Down by the river,
I shot my baby.
Down by the river.

Dead, dead, ooh, ooh, shot her dead, shot her dead.

Be on my side. I’ll be on your side.
There is no reason for you to hide.
It’s so hard for me staying here all alone,
When you could be taking me for a ride.

She could drag me over the rainbow,
Send me away.

Down by the river,
I shot my baby.
Down by the river.

Down by the river,
I shot my baby.
Down by the river.

Down by the river,
I shot my baby.
Down by the river.

10 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Down By The River

  1. msjadeli February 10, 2019 / 10:19 am

    Fandango, now you’re confessing this crime also??? 😉 I was listening to that very CD last night. Perfect choice for the prompt. Uncle Neil knows how to write songs and jam.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marleen February 10, 2019 / 10:38 am

    Great version! Thanks. And very interesting background information. Thank you for that, too.

    You: An interesting side note is that, according to the liner notes to his 1977 Greatest Hits album, Decade, Young said that he wrote this song, as well as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Cowgirl In The Sand,” in one day while sick …

    I once (in the nineties) wanted to adopt a little girl named Cinnamon. When I had my sons, I was not wishing for a girl. And I had never before thought of adoption. I don’t know how she got her name; she had very light blond hair. She was maybe eight to ten. My husband had no interest in adoption at all, so that went nowhere.

    But anyway… here’s some music with the word “river” attached.

    https://myspace.com/littleriverband/music/songs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango February 10, 2019 / 2:11 pm

      I remember the Little River Band.

      Like

  3. Mary B February 10, 2019 / 11:32 am

    Great song! And who knew about the true meaning behind the lyrics? Excellent find!

    Liked by 1 person

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