River of Deceit

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"River of Deceit"
Mad Season River of Deceit.JPG
Single by Mad Season
from the album Above
B-side "November Hotel" (live)
Released March 27, 1995
Format CD single, Cassette
Recorded 1994 at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, Washington
Length 5:04
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Barrett Martin, Mike McCready, John Baker Saunders, Layne Staley
Producer(s) Brett Eliason, Mad Season
Mad Season singles chronology
"River of Deceit"
"I Don't Know Anything"

"River of Deceit"
"I Don't Know Anything"
Audio sample

"River of Deceit" is a song by the American rock band Mad Season, released in 1995 as the first single from the band's only studio album, Above (1995). The song reached number two on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and is the band's most well known song.

Origin and recording[edit]

The music for "River of Deceit" came out of rehearsals that the group had before vocalist Layne Staley joined the band.


Much of "River of Deceit", lyrically, was inspired by The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, which Staley read during the making of the album. Drummer Barrett Martin said, "Layne Staley felt as though he was on a spiritual mission through his music. Not a rock mission, a spiritual mission."[1] Staley also wrote the song partially about his drug addiction which would eventually lead to his death in 2002.

Release and reception[edit]

The single for "River of Deceit" was released to radio across North America, Europe, and the world. "River of Deceit" became the most successful song from Above on the American rock charts. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number nine on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. It would go on to become the band's most well-known song as it received substantial radio play throughout the 1990s.

Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia and Austria. In Canada, the song reached the top 70 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and later it charted on the Canadian Alternative Top 30 chart where it reached number eight.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "River of Deceit" was directed by Josh Taft. The black-and-white video features the band performing the song amid scenes of people engaged in various activities. It is the only music video the band released. The video can be found at the end of the concert video, Live at the Moore.

Live performances[edit]

"River of Deceit" was first performed live at the band's October 12, 1994 concert in Seattle, Washington at the Crocodile Cafe.[2] Live performances of "River of Deceit" can be found on the "I Don't Know Anything" single and the compilation album Bite Back: Live at Crocodile Cafe. A performance of the song is also included on the Live at the Moore home video release.

On May 23, 2012, the surviving members of Mad Season (Mike McCready and Barrett Martin) performed "River of Deceit" during a set at the Showbox Theatre in Seattle for Mike's annual benefit concert for Crohn's Disease. They were joined by Loaded singer Jeff Rouse and bassist Rick Friel.

On January 30, 2015, the surviving members of Mad Season again reunited for a concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, with Chris Cornell filling in on lead vocals. The band played several Mad Season songs, including "River of Deceit". A recording of the concert was released as a live album Mad Season & The Seattle Symphony - Sonic Evolution / January 30, 2015 / Benaroya Hall. Chris Cornell subsequently added "River of Deceit" to his solo repertoire, performing the song each night on his 2015 Higher Truth tour. Temple of the Dog also played the song on their 2016 tour.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Barrett Martin, Mike McCready, John Baker Saunders, and Layne Staley.

CD (Australia and Austria) and Cassette (Australia)
  1. "River of Deceit" – 5:04
  2. "November Hotel" (live) – 15:17
Promotional CD (US)
  1. "River of Deceit" – 5:04

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1995) Position
US Mainstream Rock Tracks[3] 2
US Modern Rock Tracks[3] 9
Canadian Singles Chart[4] 68
Canadian Alternative Top 30[5] 8


  1. ^ Altman, Billy. "Alice In Chains' Staley Remembered By Mad Season Mate & Rage's Morello". Yahoo! Music. April 23, 2002.
  2. ^ "The Mike McCready Concert Chronology". giventowail.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b "Mad Season – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Canadian Charts - "River of Deceit"". RPM. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Canadian Rock/Alternative Top 30 – "River of Deceit"". RPM. Archived from the original on 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2007-03-07.