“River” is number 5 track on Revival and it details the struggles of a failing relationship, followed by a child abortion. The story revolves around a man who has been cheating on his girlfriend. The girl finds out about his infidelity, however, she tries to get him back by cheating on him with Eminem. Em knows he is getting used, yet he persists anyways in order to fill the romantic void in his heart.
After the man finds out what his girlfriend has been doing, he ends up leaving her at the same time as Eminem lost interest in her. Em’s struggles come to fruition as soon as he realizes the woman is pregnant from him. His selfish actions cause the destruction of the girl’s relationship and the abortion of her unborn child.
Ed Sheeran—who collaborates with Eminem for the first time—sings a powerful chorus of a remorseful man who wants to be washed from his sins.
While the two have never worked together prior to “River,” Ed Sheeran stated that Eminem’s music (specifically, The Marshall Mathers LP) is the reason he got over his stutter in an interview with Rolling Stone.
In an interview with Billboard, Ed talked bout the song: “I sound like such a c[uck] name-dropping, but I was traveling Australia and Russell Crowe has a house, this big farm. I get an email from Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager, and he said, ‘We’re gonna start putting the album together, send any ideas’. So I used the studio at Russell’s house… played the drums on it, and then played the guitar, and then recorded the thing and wrote the chorus and did the piano on it, and then sent it off and then didn’t hear anything back. This was like March 2016.”
Listen to the song below: