January 16

Let’s Sail Our Vessels to Garth Brooks’ “The River”

Dreams, no matter how big or small they may be, are our pushing spirits to go on with life.

Garth Brooks is imaginably best known for his inspiring songs, and he recorded one of the most important hits of his career in 1992 with “The River.” It is a song patterning our dreams to that of a river, and us, the vessel.

Let’s Sail Our Vessels to Garth Brooks' "The River" 1

“The River” to Garth, Where The Idea Came From

Released as the fifth and final single from Brooks’ landmark Ropin’ the Wind album, “The River” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs chart on July 25, 1992. In the liner notes to his album The Hits, He wrote,

“Of all songs, most of the letters I receive concern ‘The River. It is a song of inspiration… a song that I will be proud of a hundred years from now. Victoria Shaw is a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend. And this is what happens when two dreamers get together and write from the heart.”

In 1989, when Victoria Shaw was struggling in her career in Nashville, she met another struggling singer and songwriter, Garth Brooks. They began writing together. One of the songs they did together was “The River”, which really became a hit song. It’s greatly influenced by James Taylor and the other acoustic singer-songwriters that were a part of his early influences. They wrote it two hours after staring blankly at each other until they decided to take a break. They put on James Taylor’s CD and that got them in the mood. All of a sudden, in the middle of the song, Garth asked Victoria to turn the radio off, picked the guitar and went ‘You know a dream is like a river…’ That’s when Victoria joined Garth in finishing the song that struck a harmony with millions.

Similes and Metaphors

As the song goes,

I will sail my vessel, ’til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind, these waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination if I never try
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry

Garth Brooks uses the metaphor of a person’s life being a vessel. A person is an enduring ship that sails through life on all streams, trying to achieve their dreams. It points out us that life is shorter than we think. It drives us to get all chances we have to live it rather than standing on the shore just watching the river flow. Like a river, some dreams changes, too. Life tosses a lot of challenges at us. Like all life changes, the river. The paths we choose may vary, but when the river gets rough and life is hard, let’s not give up on our dreams. 

It’s not always easy to chase your dreams because so many things hinder everything we worked for. We just need to go with the flow until the river runs dry.

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied. Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tide.”



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