Find the River
R.E.M. Lyrics


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Hey now, little speedy head
The read on the speed meter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve
Don't be shy
Your just deserve
Is only just light years to go
Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river's goal
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river
Bergamot and Vetiver
Run through my head and fall away
Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

There's no one left to take the lead
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of Ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up here and chase the ride




The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way

Overall Meaning

"Find The River" by R.E.M. is a song that is rich in metaphor and imagery. The lyrics describe a person who is trying to find their way in life but is feeling lost and disconnected from their surroundings. They are urged to leave the safety of their current situation and venture out into the unknown. The song speaks to the idea of taking risks and embracing change in order to find one's true purpose.


The opening lines set the scene for the song, describing a person who is headed to the city to complete a task. There is a sense of urgency and pressure to the verse, with the person being told that they have to go despite the danger and chaos that they will encounter. The metaphor of drowning is used to describe the challenges that the person will face, with the implication being that they will have to work hard to avoid being overwhelmed.


The chorus is where the title of the song comes in. The river is described as a symbol of the person's journey, with the ocean being the final destination. The repetition of the line "I have got to find the river" emphasizes the importance of finding one's purpose and staying on track, even when things are difficult. The use of the bergamot and vetiver scents adds an extra layer of meaning, with both scents being commonly associated with relaxation and tranquility.


The second verse continues the theme of being lost and feeling disillusioned. The imagery of the ocean and the storm add a sense of danger, while the bayberry moon adds a sense of mysticism and wonder. The person is encouraged to leave their current situation and "memorize" the world around them, implying that there is beauty and meaning to be found in even the most mundane experiences.


Line by Line Meaning

Hey now, little speedy head
The singer is addressing someone who is moving quickly and seemingly in a hurry.


The read on the speed meter says
The speedometer indicates the person is traveling at a fast speed.


You have to go to task in the city
The person must perform their duties in the city.


Where people drown and people serve
The city is a place where both tragedy and hard work occur.


Don't be shy
The person is encouraged to have confidence.


Your just deserve
The person deserves what they have worked for.


Is only just light years to go
The end of the journey is still far away, but the person will reach it eventually.


Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
The artist's thoughts are scattered and unfocused, like a field of flowers.


Ocean storm, bayberry moon
The artist is experiencing intense emotions, like a storm on the ocean, but also has moments of clarity and peace, like a moonlit bayberry bush.


I have got to leave to find my way
The artist needs to leave their current situation in order to move forward and find their path.


Watch the road and memorize
The person should pay attention to their surroundings and remember the details, as these experiences are important.


This life that pass before my eyes
Life is fleeting and passes by quickly.


Nothing is going my way
The singer is feeling disheartened or discouraged by their current situation.


The ocean is the river's goal
The river's ultimate destination is the ocean.


A need to leave the water knows
The river is aware that it must flow towards the ocean.


We're closer now than light years to go
The journey is long, but the destination is getting closer.


I have got to find the river
The artist must find the river in order to follow its path to the ocean.


Bergamot and Vetiver
The scent of bergamot and vetiver is in the singer's mind.


Run through my head and fall away
The thoughts and memories come and go quickly.


Leave the road and memorize
The artist should step back from their current path and remember what they have experienced so far.


There's no one left to take the lead
There is no clear direction or leader to follow.


But I tell you and you can see
The artist is providing guidance to the listener.


We're closer now than light years to go
Despite the lack of direction, the journey is still progressing towards the goal.


Pick up here and chase the ride
The person should take control of their journey and pursue the path ahead.


The river empties to the tide
The river flows towards the ocean and merges with the tide.


Fall into the ocean
The singer encourages the person to embrace the journey and the destination.


A fortune for the undertow
The undertow is powerful and could be dangerous, but also holds potential for great reward.


None of this is going my way
The artist is still feeling discouraged by their journey.


There is nothing left to throw
The artist has exhausted all options and possibilities.


Of Ginger, lemon, indigo
The singer has various thoughts and emotions, represented by the scents of ginger, lemon, and indigo.


Coriander stem and rose of hay
The scent of coriander and rose of hay further represent the singer's emotional and mental state.


Strength and courage overrides
The person can overcome their challenges with strength and courage.


The privileged and weary eyes
The person must overcome their own exhaustion and privilege in order to succeed in their journey.


Of river poet search naivete
The artist is searching for a sense of simplicity or naivety in their journey or the world around them.


All of this is coming your way
The challenges, emotions, and experiences of the journey are all part of the person's path and will continue to come towards them.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Written by: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Michael Mills, Michael Stipe

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@nelroelands7228

Hey now, little speedyhead,
the read on the speedmeter says
you have to go to task in the city
where people drown and people serve.
Don't be shy. Your just deserve
is only just light years to go.

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
ocean storm, bayberry moon.
I have got to leave to find my way.
Watch the road and memorize
this life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

The ocean is the river's goal,
a need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go.

I have got to find the river,
bergamot and vetiver
run through my head and fall away.
Leave the road and memorize
this life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

There's no one left to take the lead,
but I tell you and you can see
we're closer now than light years to go.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
Fall into the ocean.

The river to the ocean goes,
a fortune for the undertow.
None of this is going my way.
There is nothing left to throw
of Ginger, lemon, indigo,
coriander stem and rose of hay.
Strength and courage overrides
the privileged and weary eyes
of river poet search naivete.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way.



@corinamusgrave8508

Been listening to R.E.M. a lot recently and just love this song. I feel it’s the most beautiful and most nostalgic song ever written. 💜🙏🏻

Find the river by R.E.M

Hey now, little speedyhead
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve

Don't be shy, your just deserve
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon

I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
And nothing is going my way
The ocean is the river's goal
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away
Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
And nothing is going my way
There's no one left to take the lead
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go

Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naiveté
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way



@Anonymous-lq2bs

Hey now, little speedyhead
The read on the speed-meter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve
Don't be shy, you're just dessert
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that passed before my eyes
And nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river's goal
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away
Leave the road and memorize
This life that passed before my eyes
And nothing is going my way

There's no one left to take the lead
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naiveté
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way



All comments from YouTube:

@johnny891000

This has to be one the most beautiful songs ever written

@KanwarAnand

just discovered

@mikelwolfe8597

My favorite rem song.. Rock on

@davemcglynn

This is the last song on the album that I remember using to cure my sadness and depression as a teen in the mid-1990s, listening in the dark before falling asleep. I would start the album full of doubt, uncertainty, fears, ... by the time this song played, I was always in such a dramatically better mood. As a result this is one my favorite songs as well.

@davemcglynn

@Dangerous Thinking Very much better - thanks for asking... it was a time I was going through as a teen, low self-esteem, was hiding a lot of things from everyone I knew, never felt truly at ease.. struggled with addiction from then until recovery brought me a higher power and peace. It's tough to put a finger on exactly what was going on with myself back then, but the power of music is a truly amazing thing - songs can reach so many people in different ways. I hope your situation has progessed since 6 months ago.. Crazy times we live in. I needed this song yesterday due to "sheltering in place".

@markvickers6904

It is.

66 More Replies...

@peterkelly93

I'm an average middle aged Yorkshireman from England. I bought this album on release. Always has and will always be my favourite track. Absolutely sublime.

@darcycarmody6908

peter kelly happy Yorkshire day

@peterkelly93

@@darcycarmody6908 thank you

@lukesters7234

Yeah...me too....middle aged, Yorkshire and bought it on release date and favourite track...I had to double take when I read that...thought I’d been drunk posting again..ha!

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