♫ River of Dreams ♫

I had no song in my heart tonight … still seething and grieving over the wolves … and had decided to skip my music post today, when our friend Michael (Oikos-Editorial) from Germany commented on the Billy Joel song I played a few nights ago, Honesty, and said he also liked this one by Joel.  Well, the title didn’t start any fires in my poor ol’ tired mind, but when I listened, I remembered the song well and … the rest, as they say, is history.  Thank you, Michael, for salvaging my music post today!

Billy Joel gets a lot of song ideas in his dreams, and often struggles to remember them when he wakes up. For this song, however, he woke up with the song in his head, but tried NOT to write it …

“I thought, Who the hell am I to try to pull off this gospel song, so I took a shower to wash this song away. I sang it in the shower and knew I had to do it.”

Hey … I sing in the shower!  D’you think I might have a hit song just waiting to be released?

This is a very spiritual song where Joel, who identifies himself as an atheist, includes some biblical imagery, including the line, “Through the valley of fear,”  Joel also says that the river is a religious image, as “there’s baptizing in a river and you have to cross the river – people are getting dunked in the river and there’s rivers of blood.”

The cover of the River Of Dreams album was painted by supermodel Christie Brinkley, who was Joel’s second wife.  I did not know this!  


Joel performed this song at the Grammy Awards ceremony in 1994, where it was up for Record of the Year (it lost to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”). Joel, backed by a large gospel choir on a set designed to look like a church, used the false ending about two-and-a-half minutes into the song as an opportunity to make a point: instead of waiting a beat and continuing the song, he stopped cold, looked at his watch and said, “Valuable advertising time going by… dollars.” Joel later said that he was protesting because producers cut off Frank Sinatra’s acceptance speech earlier in the telecast when Sinatra was given a Legend Award.

This song did well worldwide … it reached #3 in both the U.S. and UK, and #2 in Canada, Austria, Ireland and Switzerland, and hit #1 in New Zealand.

The River of Dreams
Song by Billy Joel

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To the river so deep
I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it’s too hard to cross

Even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
I try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep
I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I’d never lose
Something somebody stole

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I’ve been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep
I know I’m searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind

In the middle of the night

I’m not sure about a life after this
God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams

In the middle of the night

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Billy Joel
The River of Dreams lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

15 thoughts on “♫ River of Dreams ♫

  1. This is a good song, yes, Jill and friends, but for me it is very sad. Here is a man searching for something to give his life meaning, but he can only think of one place to look, and that is to religion. In my books, religion is the last place to look. What is the first place, the best place? Inside yourself!
    The biggest problem is, in our culture, we are taught to look outside ourselves, look to the experts. In our lives, there is only one expert for each of us, and that is ourselves. Who can know us best? Only we can. Nobody else.
    Yet we are not taught to look inside. The man in this song, he goes looking, as do most people, elsewhere. This is what we are taught to do. The one place we should be looking is inside us, but we don’t know how to do that! And that is what makes me so sad. The answers are all right there, but we are too close to them to see us!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are far more philosophical than I about the song, rg. I just liked the music, didn’t do any deep mind-diving. You know my thoughts on religion largely echo your own … I have no problem with others practicing their religion as long as they don’t try to shove it on me. I guess I came to a place some time ago where I’m comfortable with who/what I am, and I don’t need to soul search too much, though I do sometimes.

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  2. I certainly remember this song when I was very little. One time I even got a cassette single as a birthday present way back when. I’m not a Billy Joel fan, but I really liked that song. One time during my freshman year of college where I was in the choir, some of the upperclassmen and I started signing that song acapella when we were just chilling which was fun. I wasn’t aware of the history of this song, so thanks for the info.

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    • I’m so glad you liked the song! Yes, I love learning the background trivia for the music I play … some of the songs I’ve known all my life, but never knew why or how they came about. I have a lot of fun with the music posts!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks! That song and I go way back during my earlier years of life. It does look like you have fun with these posts. I definitely like finding out background trivia and facts like when I do my film reviews on one of my other blogs.

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    • Heh heh … I should be thanking you, for it was you who put the idea into my head! I’m glad you liked it … and yes, it is great! I’ll be working on people’s taxes all weekend, so … it may not be enjoyable, but at least productive.

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