By This River: the maturity of love according to Brian Eno

Posted by

This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

Here we are
Stuck by this river
You and I
Underneath a sky that’s ever falling down, down, down
Ever falling down

Dreaming is a complex journey. Sometimes, however, it can be made easier, especially when you listen to Before And After Science, Brian Eno’s album. One of the best works made by the pioneer of “ambient” music, it’s also one of our favourite LPs of all time. It is an album where the irresistible power of Phil Collins’ percussion and drums, the cavernous throbbing of Percy Jones’ fretless bass and the saucy humming of the synth, pass through us, leaving an indelible mark.

By This River, in particular, is always part of the ideal playlist to take with you to a desert island. A rarefied atmosphere, Eno singing in resigned manner, the piano and the keyboards cherished, as if they are working with precious fabric. A composition that is the yawn of a soul, a meditation, a masterpiece of calm.

Like every masterpiece, you can give different meanings to the lyrics. I like to think that the “river” is simply a metaphor for love and the “ocean” represents the maturity of the feeling – the point of arrival. At first it scares you; you feel hypnotised, blown away, but then you understand that this confusion is only momentary. You get lost, then find yourself. It’s a return to a state of origin, because the mouth, where the river seems to disappear in the ocean, is a containment space, an embrace that holds the river, keeping its course straight and true.

The lyrics sweetly narrate the evolution of all love. It is impetuous and vibrant as the water is at a river’s source, then calm, relaxed, like an ocean. It’s a calm that can frighten, because it makes you think that the passion, the motivation, has been lost on the way. But if you look more closely, the ocean is much larger, much more important, and the limits of the river are endless. The home where you can live and enjoy the maturity of your feelings is, in fact, immense.

You can find below the lyrics:

Here we are
Stuck by this river
You and I
Underneath a sky that’s ever falling down, down, down
Ever falling down

Through the day
As if on an ocean
Waiting here
Always failing to remember why we came, came, came
I wonder why we came

You talk to me
As if from a distance
And I reply
With impressions chosen from another time, time, time
From another time

This story is part of the book:

Mama Mia Let Me Go!
A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and stories in rock music

Buy it on Amazon

Rating: 5.0/5. From 2 votes.
Please wait...

One comment

  1. I think you should have mentioned Moebius and Roedelius for their collaboration on the piece, remember Eno worked with Cluster in 1977 and they released two albums in ’77 and ’78.

Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.