When I first heard this song, I was so surprised and puzzled by the strong emotional effect it had on me that I wanted to look into it further.
It was written by Carly Simon for the film ‘Working Girl’, a romantic comedy set in 1980s New York. The plot has a young woman secretary who is unfairly treated find justice and achieve success. Here we see Carly Simon singing interspersed with scenes from the film’s opening where workers are making their commute by ferry across the river to Manhattan. In the background is the Statue of Liberty and ahead of them the ‘silver city’. On the surface then, it is about their aspirations to succeed in the big city – materially and maybe romantically too.
For me though, the song transcends this context and speaks of a yearning that goes beyond hopes for material wealth or security. The words ‘New Jerusalem’ immediately lead us towards religious ideas.
Let The River Run was taken up as a theme by the international Women’s March in January 2017, held the day after the inauguration of President Trump in America to protest against his anti-women and anti-human rights policies. It seems to fit the great flow of humanity, joining together like tributaries into a mighty river surging towards justice.
The Bible has many references to rivers, but here is a famous quote from the prophet Amos:
Credit to BBC Soul Music Series 27, broadcast on 23 January 2019