Don't Cross The River

Album: Homecoming (1973)
Charted: 35
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by Dan Peek, one of the three founding members of America. He left the band in 1977 after pledging to God that if successful with his music, he would dedicate his life to Jesus Christ, which he did until his death in 2011. Peek became a Christian recording artist, making #78 US with "All Things Are Possible" in 1979.
  • The lyrics are Peek's advice to a lost and lonely girl who loves life in the fast lane but feels emptiness within. He tells her, "Don't cross the river if you can't swim the tide," meaning that if she is going to live life for her own fleshly reasons, she will likely be unhappy and do not expect otherwise. He invites her to accept Jesus by reminding her that "If you want, you can ride my train and soon forget the reason that you're leaving" - leaving the old life behind, and that "You'll lose yourself but then some time, maybe even save yourself some grievin'" - you'll leave certain pleasures behind but soon forget about them and save yourself many heartaches and hours of loneliness. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mark - Mayberry, NC, for above 2

Comments: 12

  • Theo from Mesa,arizonaAs for the anonymous individual who so self assuredly asserted that rivers don’t have tides but only currents, he or she needs to become aware of the fact that there are many tidal rivers that are influenced by the rising and ebbing of the seas into which they flow.
  • Iulenny from Indiana @ Kevin. Just saw America two nights ago and currently the drummer sings this song and he has the perfect voice for it. The band is incredible
  • AnonymousDon't the river if can't swim the tide...I didn't know rivers had tides...? current,maybe?...well, dan peek is no longer around to explain that line...
  • Catherine from NycDan's wife said it's about her, that he wanted her to leave her mum to be with him.
  • Romanong Kurong from PhilippinesYes, I can hear the river; it’s burbling; and I can’t help but row on it. “There’s a little girl out lying on her own, she’s got a broken heart.” “She knows and plays it smart.”

    The drums and the guitars are the water streaming down the gorge so fast—in cadence with my heart—racing past something like a void, racing past a cracked rock serving no definite purpose comes any tide—high or low.

    I have always raced with something—perhaps a memory all the time. But never the present reality. The past always has a way to run after me. And I am always sinking. But every time it does, I keep singing, “don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide…”
  • Lenny from Edison, NjR I P Dan Peek. You have crossed the river, my friend!
  • Staley from Dallas, TxI like how the verses start out a little discordant then resolve the sound leading to the chorus.
  • Harold from San Bernadino, CaOne of my faves from this band.
  • Kevin from Reading , PaThe two co-founders of the group, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, perform this song live in concert to this day, even though Peek wrote and sung lead on this. Peek had the highest voice of three, Beckley the second highest, so Beckley sings it, with what I would describe as mediocre results. Good song, though. Beckley also sings lead nowadays on the Peek song "Lonely People." on the h.s remainGerry
  • Kevin from Memphis , Tnthis is a hidden masterpiece, this could also be used if you've got a good poker hand (hum this line: don't cross the river if you can't swim the tide)
  • Soutiman from Mumbai, IndiaA very nice melodious song.
  • Gene from Mobile, AlGarth Brooks covered this song a few years ago
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