River of No Return

Album: See the Light (1988)

Songfacts®:

  • A track from the breakout debut album by The Jeff Healey Band, "River of No Return" has lyrics by Keith Reid, who as a member of Procol Harum, wrote the words to "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" and all the other songs for the group. Reid had the lyrics written, but didn't find music to go with them until his publicist paired him with Jon Tiven, a former music journalist who had written and produced songs for Rick Derringer, Mick Farren and Jim Carroll. Tiven had never written just the music for a song, but jumped at the chance to work with Reid. He told us the story: "Keith came over my house, and said, 'Play me some music.' So I played him some music. He said, 'No. Play me some more music.' I played him some more. 'Nah.' Then I finally played him something that he liked, and he went to get a briefcase. He pulled out a typed sheet of paper. He said, 'I did this as a translation of a French lyric. It wasn't a translation, it was just something that fit into the same phrasing as the French lyric, but it was rejected. So I think this will fit with that music that you had.' So we tried it, and took all of 15 minutes to get the thing together. It fit perfectly except for one line. And the song was called 'River of No Return.' Went on the first Jeff Healey record and sold about three million copies.

    So at that point I said, 'Oh, words and music. Keeping them separate. That might be a good thing.'"

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