River of No Return

Album: See the Light (1988)


  • 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.'"


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Guy Clark

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Gene Simmons of Kiss

Gene Simmons of KissSongwriter Interviews

The Kiss rocker covers a lot of ground in this interview, including why there are no Kiss collaborations, and why the Rock Hall has "become a sham."

Randy Newman

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Francesca Battistelli

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Name the Character in the Song

Name the Character in the SongMusic Quiz

With a few clues (Works at a diner, dreams of running away), can you name the character in the song?