From bluegrass to soul, oldies to recent hits, we created a mix of some of the best songs inspired by the river. May it remind you of the tremendous joy our rivers bring into our lives, and their importance to all life here in the West. If you have any suggestions for songs you'd like to see added to the list, email us your suggestions. We hope you enjoy what you hear!
As we combed through the suggestions we received for this list, it became clear that rivers have played central roles in every genre of movie out there: comedy, drama, romance, crime, thriller, documentary and, of course, adventure! If there’s one thing this illustrates, it’s the importance of rivers to our lives and to our stories. They’re woven into everything. And that’s why Western Rivers Conservancy continues to protect them.
We hope you enjoy this list. We surely left a few favorites off, but these are the ones that rose to the top.
The River Wild (1994)
Jump aboard for a white-knuckle ride with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon in this white water thriller about a family taken hostage by a pair of fugitives during a rafting trip. The film was shot on the Kootenai and Middle Fork Flathead in Montana, and the Rogue in southern Oregon and features the legendary California river guide, Kelley Kalafatich, playing Streep's stunt double on the oars.
Spirited Away (2001)
A central character in Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 animated masterpiece is the River Spirit, who originally appears as the Stink Spirit in the form of a polluted river. The Stink Spirit is cleaned of its trash in the bathhouse and becomes a powerful dragon and the source of many good things. The character was supposedly based on Miyazaki’s own experience helping with a river clean-up that returned a dried-up old stream to health.
Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)
“Never give an inch.” Such is the creed of the Stampers, a fiercely independent Oregon logging family that struggles to adjust to the changing world of the early 1960s, as the river running through their backyard consumes their land. Although it pales in comparison to the 1964 Ken Kesey novel that it’s based on, it’s well worth a watch (and free on YouTube). The film stars Paul Newman, Henry Fonda and Lee Remick and was directed by Newman himself.