“Don’t Cross the River” by America

It has been put forth by many an analyst that “Don’t Cross the River” is actually Christian in nature, i.e. pointing to the idea of the troubled subject of the song being exhorted to accept Jesus Christ. However, the lyrics do not specifically read as such. In fact they are so ambiguous that it may be challenging for listeners to ascertain all that’s being relayed.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for America's Don't Cross The River at Lyrics.org.

Song’s Subject

What is more easily discernible in this song is that its subject is “a little girl” who apparently is out on her own. Moreover “she’s got a broken heart”, implying that she comes from a dysfunctional family or is dealing with some other type of harrowing depression. And as far as figuring out what’s actually going on in the second verse, good luck.

But what it all seemingly boils down to is the vocalist encouraging the subject to turn over a new life. In other words, when he advises her “don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide”, that reads like another way of saying that she should not proceed with her current lifestyle if she doesn’t want to eventually deal with all of the negative consequences thereof. So the further implication is that she is doing what she has to do to survive, i.e. being engaged in what is generally deemed as an immoral behavior.

And concerning the super-confusing part of the lyrics, perhaps it has something to do with this being one of Dan Peek’s earlier forays into Christian music. It is not easy for a mainstream musician to take such a route, which would in part explain for instance why after venturing out on his own and into Christian circuit, Peek never experienced the type of professional success he did as part of America. Or as the Bible would argue, the physical and spiritual worlds do not agree. So it is possible that during Peek’s attempt to utilize the former to propagate the latter, some of the lyrical simplicity of this piece got lost along the way.

When was “Don’t Cross the River” released?

America’s “Don’t Cross The River” was released as a single on the 15th of November, 1972. It is the third track on the band’s second studio album, “Homecoming”.

Writing Credits

America owns production credits for “Don’t Cross The River” while Dan Peek, the late founding member of the band, was responsible for its composition.

The “Homecoming” Album

“Homecoming” was recorded and produced in 1972 by the band itself and released through Warner Records, an American record label.

The album ranked top-10 in the United States, peaking at No. 9. It peaked at No. 21 in the UK.

In all, “Homecoming” yielded six singles, including the following:

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