Rock Me on the Water

"Rock Me on the Water" is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, released as the second single from his 1972 debut album, Jackson Browne, following the No. 7 success of Browne's debut single, "Doctor, My Eyes". Browne's version reached No. 48 on Billboard's September 23, 1972, Hot 100 chart, spending nine weeks on that chart after debuting at No. 73 on August 5, 1972.[2][3][4] It was also released as a single in Canada, Germany and Japan, and as a promotional single in the United Kingdom.[5]

"Rock Me on the Water"
1972 Single Picture Sleeve Jackson Browne Rock Me On the Water.jpg
Autographed 7" Picture Sleeve
Single by Jackson Browne
from the album Jackson Browne
B-side"Something Fine"
ReleasedJuly 1972
GenreSoft rock[1]
Length3:47 7" version; 4:13 album version
LabelAsylum Records
Songwriter(s)Jackson Browne
Producer(s)Richard Sanford Orshoff
Jackson Browne singles chronology
"Doctor, My Eyes"
"Rock Me on the Water"
"Redneck Friend"


William Ruhlmann of AllMusic wrote that Browne was performing the song as early as autumn 1970. "In the songs he was writing shortly before his recording debut in 1972, Jackson Browne continually alluded to apocalyptic events, but never more explicitly than in 'Rock Me...'," he wrote.[6] Browne is documented as saying that the song, with its reference to the "sisters of the sun," pays homage to his real-life sisters.[7]

Browne addressed the gospel and religious issues in the song, saying that "it's not about religion, it's about society." The song is meant to employ gospel language, but, he said, he turns "it around 180 degrees... If you heard even three seconds of it, you would say, 'well, that's gospel,' but you have to have an idea in a gospel song, and if it's not going to be Jesus, then it must at least be salvation. If I say 'when my life is over, I'm going to stand before the father, but the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now' is like a way of, lovingly, and in a friendly way, refuting the traditional and conventional messages of redemption having to do with the straight and narrow... I staked a lot on that song, because it was a combining of that social awareness and paying attention to what's going on around, with the inner search for spiritual meaning."[8]

Like much of the album from which it came, the song is presented simply, with only Craig Doerge (piano), Russ Kunkel (drums), and Lee Sklar (bass) playing, along with David Crosby's harmony vocals.

The original single from 1972 and the version on Browne's self-titled album are actually two different performances of the song. The single includes additional background vocals, congas, and electric guitar. It omits the piano break between the first chorus and second verse, adds a short introduction, and is played at a slightly faster tempo. The timing discrepancy is not due to an edit of the album version. As of 2019, the single has not been released on an album or CD.


Bud Scoppa, in his March 1972 review of the Jackson Browne debut album, stated that "Rock Me..." would make an excellent single and that the song's "lilting gospel-like movement" showed a Van Morrison influence.[9]

Bruce Springsteen referenced the song in his speech upon the induction of Browne into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 saying: "Listen to the chord changes of 'Rock Me on the Water' and 'Before the Deluge', it's gospel through and through."[10]

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (1972) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 48

Cover versionsEdit

Browne did a version of the song with country singer Kathy Mattea for the Red Hot + Country AIDS/HIV awareness benefit album released in 1994.


  1. ^ "200 Greatest Soft Rock Songs". Entertainment Experts Column.
  2. ^ Billboard magazine. Jackson Browne Chart History.
  3. ^ "Artist Search for "jackson browne"". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Billboard Hot 100 Charts – The Seventies. Wisconsin: Record Research, 1990.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ William Ruhlmann. "Rock Me on the Water – Jackson Browne | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  7. ^ [1] Archived April 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 2, 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Rolling Stone Archives". Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Linda Ronstadt – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  12. ^ [2][dead link]

External linksEdit