Rivers and Roads

As our time in high school comes to an end and all seniors begin to set eyes on the next chapter of life, The Head and the Heart song “Rivers and Roads” off the album The Head and the Heart, tells a story and displays emotions that many may be feeling at graduation. A somber tone sets the mood for the head singer to tell a story about missing loved ones and doing whatever it takes to see them again. As humans we all crave love; it’s a feeling that gives us purpose and passion. Therefore, when our lives take us in separate directions from those who make us feel that indescribable sense, an emptiness takes over.

A year from now, we’ll all be gone
All our friends will move away
And they’re goin’ to better places
But our friends will be gone away

The opening lines make the theme clear, and to me, it’s all in the in-exact repetition of the second line. A person is coming to the conclusion that a chapter in their life is coming to an end; it may be moving to a different state or going to college. Although this change might be for the best, the simple pleasure of hanging out with friends will no longer be possible and that presents an inevitable tsunami of sadness on the horizon.

Nothin’ is as it has been
And I miss your face like hell

The next two lines display a similar somber tone; however, now it is from a different perspective. The first verse is the speaker thinking about the glooming future and then it switches to the present moment of the speaker having gone through the change and reflecting on what he misses. This POV change is sudden and speeds up the storyline of the song. It also emphasizes how painful the situation is. It wasn’t necessary for the writer to include the first verse but by doing so it deepens the overall sadness. They have already been feeling misery for a year and that probably won’t end any time soon.

Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers ’til I reach you

Lastly, these lines are repeated throughout the song. At first glance, one would envision that rivers and roads are very similar. They are in some respects both long and large ways to travel. However, thinking more about it, this analogy is more complex than one may think. A road is a man-made structure meant to get you from point A to point B directly as fast as possible. A river is a naturally winding, sometimes rapid, and sometimes slow body of water that cuts across the world. Notice the writer doesn’t say roads ’til I reach you, he says rivers. Meaning it wouldn’t be a simple trip to rekindle their relationship, it might take years to see their old friends again.

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