River Song (Dennis Wilson song)

"River Song" is a song written by Dennis Wilson and his younger brother Carl Wilson. It served as the opening track for Dennis Wilson's 1977 debut solo album Pacific Ocean Blue. The song was released as a single in Europe with the B-side being "Farewell My Friend". The single however, failed to chart. The track, as with the rest of the album, was credited as being produced by Dennis and his close friend Gregg Jakobson. Dennis Wilson sings the lead vocals on this and every other track on the album.

"River Song"
River Song.JPG
Single by Dennis Wilson
from the album Pacific Ocean Blue
B-side"Farewell My Friend"
Format7-inch record
Songwriter(s)Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson
Producer(s)Dennis Wilson, Gregg Jakobson
Dennis Wilson singles chronology
"Sound of Free"
"River Song"
"You and I"


The lyrics were written by Dennis and his brother Carl. The lyrics compare conditions in Los Angeles to the High Sierras, the place where Dennis had been inspired by the river. The lyric tells how, though Dennis was born in the city and has always lived there, he has become sick of the overcrowding and pollution and is now just "looking for some country life". Referring to Los Angeles, Dennis has been quoted as saying, "It just makes me sick to think of what's happening here".[citation needed]


All the keyboards featured in the song were provided by Dennis Wilson. The opening piano part of the song had origins seven years earlier during recording sessions held in 1970. The piano riff represents the flowing of a river. In an interview, Dennis explained that he was "in the High Sierras walking by this river that was very small and it kept getting bigger and bigger",[1] and he explains that this is the purpose — to represent the river — of "the guitar sound on the track"[1] The music, according to Dennis, "came from the river".[1]

Dennis provides a raspy yet soulful lead vocal on the opening track, as with the rest of the album. The song also features a choir backing, performed by Alexander Hamilton's Double Rock Baptist Choir. Dennis Wilson's brother Carl is also featured in the mix singing backing vocals with the choir.[citation needed]

The Beach Boys versionEdit

The Beach Boys performed the song live in the early 1970s and had attempted to record the song, but their version was left unfinished.[citation needed] The band then used Dennis Wilson's solo version for their 1981, 2 disc greatest hits collection, Ten Years of Harmony.


  1. ^ a b c "Dennis Wilson Interview, 1977". Danaddington.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.

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