Meaning of “I Follow Rivers” by Lykke Li

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

At the heart of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” lies the essence of unyielding devotion and the fearless pursuit of a passionate love. The song is a poetic ode, capturing the intensity with which the narrator is drawn to their beloved, likening their allure to the powerful, inescapable currents of a river. The songwriter conveys a message of deep connection and desire to be immersed in the beloved’s world completely.

There’s a magnetic pull described in the lyrics that speaks to human longing, suggesting that this connection is both a force of nature and a choice—to follow wherever it may lead.

Dive into the currents of “I Follow Rivers” and emerge understanding the depth of a love that consumes and guides, a journey that promises the tumultuous thrill of the deep sea and the mystery of dark doom.

I Follow Rivers” Lyrics Meaning

Imagine standing at the edge of a vast ocean, the waves whispering secrets of the deep. This is the imagery that Lykke Li paints in “I Follow Rivers.” The lyrics take us on a chronological journey of following, not out of obligation, but enthrallment. It starts with a plea, a request for permission to embark on this journey of following the object of the narrator’s affection.

The ocean and river are metaphors for the beloved—vast, enigmatic, and essential. “Be the ocean, where I unravel,” speaks to a place of vulnerability and discovery, where the narrator can truly be themselves. The use of water imagery is recurrent, a symbol for the flow and change inherent in life and relationships.

“I follow you, deep sea, baby,” the chorus rings, a testament to the depths the narrator is willing to go to be with their love. There’s a sense of adventure, danger even, in the words “deep sea” and “dark doom,” but the commitment remains unwavering. The repetition of “I follow” is a heartbeat, a rhythm that echoes the constancy and loyalty in the song.

But who is the “he” that sends a message, the “rebel” that the “daughter” awaits? This part of the song introduces another dimension—the societal or external obstacles that the narrator is ready to defy. It’s a declaration of agency and autonomy in love, choosing to follow the ‘river’ despite the challenges it may present.

The song transcends a mere romantic narrative; it’s about the existential journey of following what gives life meaning, be it a person, a passion, or a dream. The repetition of the lyrics, rather than monotonous, feels like a mantra, reinforcing the depth of the narrator’s feelings.

Why Was “I Follow Rivers” Written?

Delving into the creation of “I Follow Rivers,” it’s important to consider the emotional landscape from which it was born. Lykke Li, like any artist, draws from the reservoir of her experiences and emotions. In writing this song, she tapped into a universal sentiment—love’s compelling force. But there’s also a personal layer, perhaps reflective of a time in her life where following was her act of rebellion, her way of affirming her path.

The song captures the essence of being so captivated by someone or something that the rest of the world fades away, leaving only the path ahead. It’s about surrendering to the current of emotions, letting it take you where it may, and finding strength in vulnerability. This isn’t just about a romantic pursuit; it’s about the pursuit of identity and purpose, which are often shaped by whom or what we choose to follow.