"The River" was the first song Laurie knew had to be on Roots - The Solo Piano Album. Laurie would tell its story in concert:
"I went to bed one night thinking about a quote I had just read, attributed to an ancient philosopher - 'You never put your hand in the same river twice.' It seemed very meaningful to me, as an allegory for life, like a river, constantly changing, constantly flowing. I woke up early, stumbled over to the piano and tape deck, and wrote this song exactly as you hear it, start to finish, including the verses, chorus, and bridge. I've never changed a thing about this song, and I hear tell that there's quite a few people hungering to write lyrics to it, which is fine with me!"