River Lea

Album: 25 (2015)
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Songfacts®:

  • The River Lea marks the eastern boundary between Adele's home borough of Tottenham and Walthamstow. The song is an ode to Adele's London upbringing:

    When I grew up as a child I grew up on the River Lea
    Now there's some of that water in me
    To wit: I'll never change. Tottenham is my mind, body and soul


    Adele told The New York Times: "I have very fond memories of Tottenham. There's a saying, you can take a girl out of Tottenham but you can't take Tottenham out of the girl. There's nothing wrong with being sent back to Tottenham, but sometimes it's quite unlikely that anything like this would happen to someone who comes from my background. And sometimes I get frightened that everyone's going to realize that this is the biggest blag of all time, and I'm going to be sent back to Tottenham."
  • Adele also blames the polluted waters of the River Lea for her feelings of now she's a famous recording artist:

    It's in my blood and I stain every heart that I use to heal the pain
    So, I blame it on the River Lea


    "Sometimes I feel a bit bad as well. I feel a bit guilty about how well I've done," Adele admitted. "And even though I don't feel like I've changed, I don't have anything in common with who I was when I lived in Tottenham any more, other than that I'm the same person, and I feel bad about that sometimes. But I also know that anyone who is from the Tottenham that I'm from, if they had the opportunity to get out, they would." [Laughs.]
  • The song was produced by Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse, who has also worked with Gorillaz, Beck and The Black Keys. Adele told Zane Lowe of working with the American: "He's like a sponge, he just soaks everything up all around him. I went to his studio in L.A. when I was there; I just love him. Next time I'll probably spend a month to six weeks just working with him."
  • Adele previously sung about her home city on the 19 track "Hometown Glory."
  • "River Lea" follows on the track listing "Water Under the Bridge," another song focused on water imagery.

Comments: 1

  • Andrew From Close To The River Lea from North East LondonI was born and brought up within a mile of the River Lea and know it quite well (probably a lot better than Adele does!) The comment about "polluted waters" is not relevent. The lower part of the river (where I come from, near the 2012 Olympic Park) is exposed to some pollution, but is generally clean enough to have plenty of fish and wildlife. Some people swim in it, but I don't think it's really clean enough for that. The area where Adele lived has numerous reservoirs for storing the river water for supply to people in North East London.

    The point of the song is really a metaphor. We drink water in the area that we grow up in and some of that water becomes physically part of us. In the same way, the place we grow up in makes us who we are : how we talk, how we think, what we do. You can't change that, any more than you can pull the water from within your body. So the song is just about being the product of your surroundings, even if you move on to another place. It's not an in-depth commentary on our lovely River Lea (and I wish I could post you a picture of the river not far from Tottenham, which I took recently, so you could see how nice it is).
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