Get Down River

I’ve been thinking incessantly, for the past week or so, about the imminent Red River flood. My parents-in-law, a sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews all live in Moorhead, Minnesota, right across the Red from Fargo, and my sister-in-law lives with her family upriver in tiny little Hendrum. The flood this weekend is certainly going to mess up their lives even more than the high water has already. I just hope the mess is more inconvenient than dangerous – but given the high water predictions, that might already be a hollow hope.

The slowly but steadily mounting disaster reminds me of the Bottle Rockets’ fantastic song, “Get Down River,” which rocks as played by the Bottle Rockets in the video below but sounded even better when covered the other weekend by Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders.

The poignant lyrics – don’t miss the last two lines:

I live in a river town, it’s pretty little
It’s high on the side and it sinks in the middle.
When the rain comes down, the river rolls up,
And fills up the low spots, all over town

Get down river, river get down, won’t you
Get down river, river get down
Once again you have messed up this old town
Get down river, get down

To the far side of town’s where I want to go,
To see my honey, but I don’t know
Looks like I’ll have to row
It’s like the Gulf of Mexico, down by the Texaco

You can drown downtown when the water is high
It’s been happenin’ here since I was a child
There ain’t nothing you can do to stop it
Just hope for the best and mop up the rest

5 thoughts on “Get Down River”

  1. The great Son Volt song “Tear-Stained Eye” (which Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders are allegedly capable of covering on a good day) is also inspired by a flood, the 1993 flood in St. Genevieve, MO:

    Can you deny
    there’s nothing greater
    nothing more than
    the traveling hands of time
    St. Genevieve can hold back the water
    Saints don’t bother
    with the tear stained eye

    I hope things go well for your in-laws in and around Moorhead.

  2. Rob, that’s a hell of a good song, all right – and one I’ve sung to the saint’s namesake a coupla times. This is fitting, since she sometimes spills her banks and wreaks havoc.

  3. Aw, I had totally forgotten how great the Bottle Rockets are (were?). As soon as this song started I remembered it completely. Memories! When was that, the early ’90s? Mid-90s? They did so many poignant songs. I haven’t listened to them in a decade, easy.

  4. Thanks for putting this great song back in my head (and thanks for the shoutout)! So glad that an actual Bottle Rockets fan was in the house when we trotted out this gem for the first time. Let’s all hope for the best this weekend.

  5. The last verse is very poignant, and I will keep those words with me as we go forward: “Hope for the best and mop up the rest!” The 7″ of snow we got last night didn’t help, although the colder temps are slowing the runoff. River reading is now over 37′, heading for 41′.

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