“River” is perhaps Leon Bridges’ most well-known song, and it’s also one of the most intimate. It is an aching hymn, somewhat agonizing while embodying the sensation of total release. And its accompanying music video is somehow even more stunning, depicting scenes of salvation, surrender, and redemption. “There are often times where you feel close in your faith and then sometimes pulled away,” a fan said in this Honda Backstage video that dives deep behind the making of the track. “After I lost my father, I had a very hard time trying to figure out how God could still love me and take him from me. That song just spoke to me on such a spiritual level.”
That’s just one example of the depth of impact that “River” has had on many listeners, but the song was never intended to be a hit. What began as a bare-bones recording became not only a fan favorite, but was also Grammy-nominated and featured on the hit television show Big Little Lies. “It was raw and lo-fi; I was like, ‘I messed up here and here,’” Bridges explained in the clip. “But I think that’s a beautiful thing, and the only way that it works is leaving it as it is.”
Watch Bridges tell the story behind “River” in the video above, and give his second record Good Thing a listen here.