Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rivers to Cross

Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" came up on the iPhone today after work on the metro.  I first heard this song as a UB40 cover version, a long time ago, very up tempo.  But I can remember the first time I heard the Jimmy Cliff recording--his voice is so saturated with longing it broke my heart.  The Harder They Come has a lot of great songs--"I Can See Clearly Now," for example, but Many Rivers is the greatest because Cliff sings it with the most urgency.

So I thought about rivers to cross:

the Rubicons of a self-confident youth
wading in the Ganges after tragedy, but not crossing its flat expanse
westward into the future across the Mississippi
slipping along into fear and darkness along the Congo
on Mirabeau Bridge above the Seine--the days go by and still I stay (Apollinaire)
the Sunday River in the middle of the week
and, last, the River Lethe

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