River Man  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"River Man" is the second listed song from Nick Drake's 1969 album Five Leaves Left, remastered and released as a single in 2004. The track is also featured on the 2005 compilation album Late Night Tales: The Flaming Lips.

Musical structure and lyrics

The song features a 5/4 timing, and is one of the few songs he wrote to be played in standard tuning. The string arrangement was composed by Harry Robinson and Robert Kirby. Though Drake never revealed the identity of the 'Betty' character in the lyrics, Trevor Dann speculated that she may have been drawn from Betty Foy, a character in Wordsworth's "The Idiot Boy", a poem Drake had studied while attending Cambridge.

American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau has been known to be a great admirer of Drake's music, and has recorded River Man on numerous albums, such as Live in Tokyo, usually remaining very faithful to the dark, autumnal sound that defines Drake's recording.

Single recording details

The single was backed by versions of "River Man" and "Day Is Done" (also from Five Leaves Left, performed by Norah Jones.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "River Man" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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