"River" is a song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. Although never released as a single, it has become one of Mitchell's most famous songs.
In the song, Mitchell ruminates on the recent breakup of a romantic relationship. Christmas is nearing, and Mitchell longs to escape her emotional bonds, openly wishing "I wish I had a river / I could skate away on", a river so long she "would teach my feet to fly." Furthermore, Mitchell's Canadian past is reflected upon, as her current warm (presumably Californian) climate does not offer her that ice or that chance. It is used in the 2000 film Almost Famous and in episodes of Alias, thirtysomething, The Wonder Years and ER.
Keeping with the Christmas theme of the lyrics, the arrangement of the song on Blue (and on many other covers of the song) starts with a theme reminiscent of "Jingle Bells", and this theme figures several times throughout the accompaniment.
Although merely set near Christmas time rather than being about Christmas as such, the song has become something of a modern Christmas standard. "River" is the third-most widely covered of songs in Mitchell's oeuvre (227 recordings, behind only "Both Sides Now" and "Big Yellow...