Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River

I had a friend who raved about Robbie’s new album in the 80s. He said he liked it better than the Bands music…I would never…ever go that far but… I did like it. Listening to this song, it took me a few listens to like it. In fact the first time I heard it I thought…this is repetitive…but after that I could not get enough of it. The back up vocal is great.

It reminds me of a narration for a movie and then Robbie goes into the chorus and the song clicks then.

Robertson enlisted fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois as co-producer of the album. The self titled album Robbie Robertson was a decent comeback for Robbie.

Robertson also brought in The BoDeans to provide group vocals for some of the tracks on the album

The song peaked at #24 in the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, #91 in Canada, and #15 in the UK in 1988.

The Robbie Robertson album won the 1989 Juno Award for Album of the Year. Lanois and Robertson jointly won the Producer of the Year Juno award at the same ceremony.

From Songfacts

A single from Robbie Robertson’s eponymous debut album, the song finds the former Band’s guitarist singing of the levee life in the Deep South.

RLanois told Exclaim! magazine that the song started with the “Somewhere Down the Crazy River,” title. It was a line that Robertson came up with when he was telling the producer about hanging out with former Band colleague Levon Helm in his old Arkansas neighborhood. “He was telling me about the hot nights and fishing with dynamite,” he recalled. “I was curious about his stories because I wanted them to be on that record… It’s kind of like a guy with a deep voice telling you about steaming nights in Arkansas.”

Robbie Robertson wrote the song with Martin Page (“These Dreams,” “We Built This City”). He recalled the time spent with Robertson in an interview with us. “With Robbie, you were really dealing with a song craftsman who would take as long as it took to piece a great piece of music together with great, great atmosphere,” he said. Obviously, his time with Bob Dylan had influenced him.”

“My period with Robbie Robertson was very, very long,” Page added. “I’d bring in ideas and he’d mull over it and we’d experiment and experiment and experiment. But he would encourage me in the way I would sing these demos for him and I would guide him with the demo, then leave him alone.”

Somewhere Down The Crazy River

Yeah, I can see it now
The distant red neon shivered in the heat
I was feeling like a stranger in a strange land
You know, where people play games with the night
God, it was too hot to sleep

I followed the sound of a jukebox coming from up the levee
All of a sudden, I could hear somebody whistling from right behind me
I turned around, and she said
“Why do you always end up down at Nick’s Cafe?”
I said, “Uh, I don’t know, the wind just kinda pushed me this way”
She said, “Hang the rich”

Catch the blue train
Places never been before
Look for me
Somewhere down the crazy river
(Somewhere down the crazy river)
Ooh, catch the blue train
All the way to Kokomo
You can find me
Somewhere down the crazy river
(Somewhere down the crazy river)

Take a picture of this
The fields are empty, abandoned ’59 Chevy
Laying in the back seat listening to Little Willie John
Yeah, that’s when time stood still
You know, I think I’m gonna go down to Madam X
And let her read my mind
She said, “That voodoo stuff don’t do nothing for me”

I’m a man with a clear destination
I’m a man with a broad imagination
You fog the mind, you stir the soul
I can’t find no control

Catch the blue train
Places never been before
Look for me
Somewhere down the crazy river
(Somewhere down the crazy river)
Ooh, catch the blue train
All the way to Kokomo
You can find me
Somewhere down the crazy river
(Somewhere down the crazy river)

Wait, did you hear that?
Oh, this is sure stirring up some ghosts for me
She said, “There’s one thing you gotta learn
Is not to be afraid of it”
I said, “No, I like it, I like it, it’s good”
She said, “You like it now
But you’ll learn to love it later”

I been spellbound
Falling in trances
I been spellbound
Falling in trances
You give me the shivers
Chills and fever
You give me the shivers
You give me the shivers
I been spellbound
I been spellbound
I been spellbound
(Somewhere down the crazy river)
Somewhere down the crazy river

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

41 thoughts on “Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River”

  1. I remember the song from a friend who loaned me the album. I bought the CD years later but it was either 1991 or ’92 when I owned my first Robbie Robertson solo album: the CD “Storyville.” I played it often on my car CD player to and from work and during road trips. Now I have the album on my phone’s playlist. A lot of good music to get lost in, though it didn’t fare as well with the critics as his 1980’s solo project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this album too- but I agree with you and not with your friend- this isn’t close to being as great as The Band- there were three great singers in the band- and none were named Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a great line! Yea my friend was really into the 80s…I can see why Robbie did this and got away from that sound but that doesn’t make it better…and yea…about his voice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A great song and great album… i was so happy when I re-purchased it last year & listened again, I’d forgotten a lot of it. Surprised it didn’t chart better than that in Canada, it got quite a bit of airplay. Maybe not better than The Band but better than most of the mainstream fodder from that year and, probably better than anything else (the album as a whole) that the lads from The Band did after they broke up.

    Like

  4. I bought this album when it came out because U2 and BoDeans are on it. Peter Gabriel, too. With Lanois’s production it had a Joshua Tree vibe to me. Honestly, I was 16 at the time and didn’t really know anything about Robertson and not much more about The Band, so I never made that comparison. It’s one of my favorite 80’s albums still.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this song is on a 1995 TV doc DVD I have on Robbie, called, “Going Home.” Bought it years ago but have only watched it a couple of times. 99% sure it’s on there. It has the feeling of a dream to it, which his voice is perfect for.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lanois brought some cool sonics out on some of these albums back in time. This one and of course Peter Gabriel but the real clincher was the work Dan did on the Achtung Baby record

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is the tour I saw them on…Zooropa…it’s like come on guys play the old songs. They did but the stage show was strange.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Guess there trying to push the live envelope as much as they could. Just a reminder we are on tomorrow night at 7pm est with Frank Lofredeo who books all the bands here in town or well did!
        We will chat about a ton of bands and of course the documentary. If u miss it Mikey will post it and put it on Youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason I thought you would like this one. The sound is really good I will say. I never heard Storyville much

      Like

      1. Yeah I had Storyville (on CD!) tried to like it but it’s just not that good. Couple of decent tracks is about it. A long long way from the music of the band! At least this album has its own thing going on…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yea…I really like her a lot. Ways to Be Wicked…oh yea…
      Yea I heard this one quite a bit back then. It didn’t compare to the Band but it was ok.

      Like

  7. love this track, a big hit in the UK, part of the Blues revival of the time going on, and just ahead of Black Velvet in the hit-making moody, evocative, retro-stance. Robbie Robertson solo stuff is more to my taste than The Band’s. I didn’t know them at the time they were big, much, and what I have heard since hasn’t persuaded me, give or take The Weight, oops! My fave song of theirs is far and away The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The UK hit version by Joan Baez, that is. Brilliant, and you can sorta see the link between that and Crazy River for Robertson songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was already a big fan of the Band when I heard this so it took some time getting accustomed to. I did end up liking it but…I just can’t resist the roots rock or Americana the Band played…
      This song was more successful in the UK by far. It’s a good song and I like it.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s