This song was on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere released in 1969. Crazy Horse was on the album also…Crazy Horse included Danny Whitten – guitar, Billy Talbot – Bass and Ralph Molina on drums. The album included Cinnamon Girl and Cowgirl in the Sand.
Neil Young said that he wrote this song as well as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Cowgirl In The Sand” in one day while sick with a fever…thats a good days work.
With the chorus of “I shot my baby – down by the river,” this song gets your attention. In a 1970 interview, Neil Young cleared it up: “There’s no real murder in it. It’s about blowing your thing with a chick. See, now in the beginning, it’s ‘I’ll be on your side, you be on mine’. It could be anything. Then the chick thing comes in. Then at the end it’s a whole other thing. It’s a plea… a desperation cry.”
Young recorded Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere with his band, Crazy Horse. Soon after the album was released, he was asked to join Crosby, Stills & Nash, and he spent the next year dividing his time between that group and Crazy Horse.
Neil elaborated the song during a lengthy introduction before a September 27th life performance in New Orleans: “I’d like to sing you a song about a guy who had a lot of trouble controlling himself,” Young began. “He let the dark side side come thru a little too bright.” The explanation goes on the describe the murder, the killer’s arrest and, finally, the guilt he feels as he realized what he’s done.”
Down By The River
Be on my side I’ll be on your side, baby
There is no reason for you to hide,
This much madness is too much sorrow,
It’s impossible to make it today,
Hey, hey, ooh-ooh
She could drag me over the rainbow,
Send me away.
Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, shot her dead.
You take my hand, I’ll take your hand,
Together we may get away.