Following the River

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: July 1971, October-November 1971 & Fall 2009
Recording locations: Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, Keith Richards' home, Villefranche-sur-mer, France; One East Studio, New York City, USA;
The Village & Mix This!, Los Angeles, USA; & unidentified studio, London, England

Producer: Jimmy Miller, Don Was & The Glimmer Twins     Chief engineers: Glyn Johns, Andy Johns & Krish Sharma 
Mixer: Bob Clearmountain             Never performed onstage

Probable line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts (or Jimmy Miller)
Bass: Bill Wyman
Acoustic guitars: Keith Richards & Mick Jagger
Electric guitar: Keith Richards
Lead vocal: Mick Jagger
Background vocals: Lisa Fischer & Cindy Mizelle
Piano: Nicky Hopkins
Tambourine: Mick Jagger 
Strings: David Campbell


There's something I should tell you
Why don't you sit there in that chair?
You're looking good today, I love the way
Your comb's tucked in your hair

My cards are on the table
But the drinks are all run out
There's been some others in this room with me
We're really quite a crowd

It's hard to break it gently
But I really thought it through
I don't think there's much future left
For me and you, me and you

I've been following the river
Till it joins hands with the sea
I've been thinking of you so bad
Cause you always saw the best in me  (always saw the best in me)

You'll probably forget me
And I'll fade back in the fog
Just a face disappearing without trace
I'll be lost, I'll be lost

One day I'll hear some laughter
In an out-of-town café
I'll be reaching for your number
I'll be calling out your name, calling out your name

I've been following that river
To join hands with the sea
I've been thinking of you all the time
Cause you always saw the best in me

I've been following that river - oh ah
Till it spills out in the sea
I've been thinking of you, oh dear
Cause you always saw the best in me - always saw the best in me

I'll be following the river - in me, yeah...
To join hands with the sea
Ah if I can't have you, I'll be dreaming all about you
Cause you always saw the best in me

I'll be following the river, oh
To join hands with the sea
I'll be thinking about you, baby
Cause you always saw the best in me

I'll be following the river...

 
 
TrackTalk

The original tape was pretty sparse... I just started from nothing on that. The core tape of it was the piano and the drums, bass, and guitar. There was no top line or lyric. I started from scratch - I mean, that's what I do, and I've done it many times before. And it's daunting in the beginning, but after a while you get into it.
- Mick Jagger, 2010


On Following the River, the vocal was there but (Mick) knew what he wanted to do with the words - he just never got around to it. So he sang it again. And in one case there is a great ballad that never had lyrics. He wrote it and finished it.
- Don Was, 2010


It's a good feeling when it all comes together. There's a track on (the album) called Following the River, which is a ballad. It's a got beautiful piano on it, which I didn't play. And I'd heard this before but it didn't have any lyrics at all. It had a beautiful - I could hear different melodies but I didn't know how I was going to get the melody to fit with this already existing track, which is very heavily piano. And when it came together, when I was sort of - I was just singing onto it, I was putting it on the stereo and I was singing along, trying out different melody lines and trying out different words. And when it actually came together, it's a very good moment, you know? There's a moment - there's a frustration, there's a build-up of this [makes discouraged face], and then try, try, try, try, and there's a moment when it really comes together for you.
- Mick Jagger, 2010


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