Let the River Run

"Let the River Run" is a song first featured in the 1988 film Working Girl, with music and lyrics by Carly Simon.[1] The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1989.[1] The song also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 46th Golden Globe Awards, tying with "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier from Buster, in 1989,[2] and a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1990.[3]

"Let the River Run"
Single by Carly Simon
from the album Working Girl (Original Soundtrack Album)
B-side"Turn of the Tide from the 1984 Democratic National Convention as well as Free to Be... a Family"
Format7" Single
CD Single
Songwriter(s)Carly Simon
Producer(s)Rob Mounsey
Carly Simon
Carly Simon singles chronology
"All I Want Is You"
"Let the River Run"
"Better Not Tell Her"

The Working Girl soundtrack also contains a choral version of the track featuring The St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys of New York City.[4] The album peaked at #45 on the Billboard 200.[5]


Composition and commercial performance

Simon has stated that she found inspiration for the lyrics by first reading the original script, and then the poems of Walt Whitman. Musically, she wanted to write a hymn to New York with a contemporary jungle beat under it, so as to juxtapose those opposites in a compelling way. A statement on Simon's official website acknowledges that "the phrases 'Silver Cities Rise' and 'The New Jerusalem' seem to have taken on a new meaning for many people, but the song was not originally composed with any particular political and/or religious overtones."[6] However, the phrase "new Jerusalem" has been recognized by other observers as an allusion to the works of William Blake.[7]

As a single, the song reached peak positions of #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 (her last charting song as a solo artist on this chart to date), and #11 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in early 1989.[8] The song remains one of Simon's best remembered and most recognizable hits.


Chart (1989) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts) 91
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company) 79
US Billboard Hot 100 49
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 11


"Let the River Run" is the first of only two songs to have won all three major awards (Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy) while being composed and written, as well as performed, entirely by a single artist[9] – the other being "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen from Philadelphia. Barbra Streisand shared the Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy for "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)" which she composed and wrote with lyricist Paul Williams (for which she also won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance). Annie Lennox won all three awards – for "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, sharing all three with co-composer and lyricists Fran Walsh and Howard Shore. More recently, Adele received the Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy for her "Skyfall" theme, co-written with producer Paul Epworth for the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

In 2001, the song was used for an advertisement for the United States Postal Service in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks.[10]

In 2004, the song was used in the end scene of the film Little Black Book,[11] Simon herself appeared in the film also. That same year, the song was ranked at #91 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs.[12]

In 2009, Simon re-recorded the song for her album Never Been Gone.[13] On September 11 of that year, Simon performed the song with her children, Sally Taylor and Ben Taylor, at the World Trade Center site to honor the lives lost in the destruction of the Twin Towers eight years earlier.[14]

In 2014 Simon released a single of the song covered by Máiréad Carlin and Damian McGinty which had been the anthem for Derry~Londonderry's UK City of Culture celebrations. McGinty and Carlin sang the song with Simon during the Oceana Partners Awards Gala in Beverly Hills, Ca.[15][16]

In January 2019 the song was the subject of an episode of BBC Radio 4's Soul Music, examining the song's cultural influence.[17]

In October 2019 the song was used behind the closing credits of Season 31, Episode 2 of the Fox TV show The Simpsons.[18]

In October 2019 as well as being the episode title, the song was used during several key moments during the first episode of season 2 of Castle Rock [19]


  1. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. Internet Movie Database. "Carly Simon - Awards". Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  3. "Carly Simon Official Website - Awards". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  4. "Working Girl Soundtrack". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  5. "Awards". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-11-27.
  6. "Carly Simon Official Website - Ask Carly". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-26.
  7. And did those feet in ancient time
  8. "Carly Simon - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
  9. "ASCAP Pop Music Award 2012". ASCAP. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  10. Coloribus Creative Advertising Archive. "USPS "PRIDE" TV Commercial". Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  11. Internet Movie Database. "Little Black Book". Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  12. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". June 22, 2004. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  13. "Carly Simon Official Website - Never Been Gone". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on September 19, 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  14. NBC New York.com. "9/11 Victims Honored at Ground Zero". Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  15. "McGinty and Carlin represent Derry". Irish Music Daily. 16 January 2014.
  16. "Carly Simon Official Website - News". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  17. "Soul Music - Let the River Run". BBC Radio 4. 23 January 2019.
  18. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8340902/?ref_=ttep_ep2
  19. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8843988/?ref_=ttep_ep1
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