15 Best Songs About Sailor
Best songs about sailor include classics like Come Sail Away by Styx, Sailing by Rod Stewart, etc. Sailing and boating lyrics in the song remind us of the sea.
Such music features the life of sailors and their adventures in lyrics as they often spend months away from home, stranded in the lonely sea.
For seamen, sailing is not just their job but a way of life. During these long travels, music can be an important ally.
There are thousands of songs featuring the life of a sailor and their adventures in the open ocean.
The vast mystery of the ocean has inspired poets and songwriters for centuries. These are songs that highlight the aspects of a sailor's life, be it about returning home, getting lost in the sea, or leaving behind a lover to explore the ocean.
Today, we will discuss 15 songs that are about sailors or sailing.
1. Come Sail Away By Styx
Come Sail Away is a nautical-themed song by the American rock band Styx.
The song was released in September 1977 via the band's seventh album titled The Grand Illusion. It was written by Styx's founding member and vocalist Dennis DeYoung.
Come Sail Away reached no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1978 and has over 50 million views on YouTube. Due to its popularity, the single has been covered by multiple artists like the 'Beelzebubs" and "Me First and the Gimme Gimmes." Further, it was also featured in an episode of South Park, sang by Eric Cartman.
The song uses sailing as a metaphor for pursuing one's goals in life. The lyrics talk about leaving the comfort zone and wandering into the unknown.
Overall, Come Sail Away is about freeing yourself from the burdens and stress of life.
2. Sailing By Rod Stewart
Sailing is a 1975 rock song by British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart.
The single is a cover version of the 1972 track by the folk-rock duo, The Sutherland Brothers. It was originally written by Gavin Sutherland and Iain Sutherland.
The Rob Stewart version was featured in his first studio album recorded in the US, Atlantic Crossing. Though the song was initially unsuccessful, it is now considered a sleeper hit. The official video Rob's version has over 50 million views on YouTube.
Sailing revolves around a sailor who is excited to return home after a lengthy sea voyage. The sailor goes through dark nights and stormy waters to return to his homeland. However, he still has many hurdles to cross before finally getting to be home with his loved ones.
The song's lyrics is used as a symbol to never give up in life despite facing multiple obstacles.
3. Into The Mystic By Van Morrison
Into the Mystic is a soul jazz song by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison.
The song was composed by Morrison in 1969 and featured in his third studio album Moondance in 1970. It is one of the most popular singles of the Northern Irish artist.
Into the Mystic is the second most streamed song of Van on Spotify with over 258 million streams. Likewise, its official vinyl video on YouTube has over 4.2 million views.
The lyrics use the term sailing into the mystic symbolically for approaching the unknown. As a person goes older, they experience countless moments of sorrow and pain.
Further, the "fog horn" analogy also implies that perspective is always crucial. Fog horns are normally used as a sign of danger. But, for a sailor returning home from sea, the horns are a welcome sign as it implies that land is near.
4. Lost Sailor By Grateful Dead
Lost Sailor is a 1980 song by the American rock band, The Grateful Dead.
Written by Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow, the single was included in the band's 11th studio album Go To Heaven.
The song talks about a sailor lost in the sea. He grows desperate in the seas as his compass is not working, and he is also not able to locate the dog star or the moon.
On the other hand, the lyrics can also be taken figuratively to represent a person who grows too accustomed to their surrounding.
Life is like a hefty sea voyage; it comes with pleasures and challenges. Similarly, freedom always comes with a price. As a child grows older, they enjoy more personal freedom but must also fulfill their obligations.
The protagonist of the song, aka the sailor, is heading out to unknown territories. Despite its dangers, they have to take the risk to move forward in life.
5. Castaway By Zac Brown Band
Castaway is a country-themed song by the American band Zac Brown Band. It was released in 2016 as a single in the band's fourth album Jekyll + Hyde.
The song was composed by a collaboration of Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins, Coy Bowles, and Niko Moon. It is one of the most popular tracks of the musical group with the official audio version garnering around 5.3 million views on YouTube.
Castaway is about a person who wants to live his life behind and explore the open sea. It is a satire to people who are too committed to their careers and often miss out on life.
The central theme of the single focuses on living in the moment. It urges its listeners to keep track of their lives before it gets too late. We are young only once and can't buy back time even with all the riches of the world. Hence, the song suggests taking a break every now and then.
6. A Pirate Looks At Forty By Jimmy Buffet
A Pirate Looks At Forty is a 1975 song by American singer Jimmy Buffett. It was released as a single in his fourth studio album A1A.
The song was written by Jimmy Buffett and produced by Don Gant. It peaked at no. 101 in the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. Meanwhile, its official lyrics video has more than 5.2 million views on YouTube.
A Pirate Looks At Forty lyrics can be taken both literally and figuratively. If you take the literal approach, the single talks about a person who wished to become a pirate since he was three feet tall.
He even goes on to become a pirate and makes tons of money. However, he spends it all and, eventually, ends up broke and old.
Jimmy was inspired to write this song after meeting a Florida-based drug dealer named Philip Clark. As the song suggests, Philip made a fortune out of his illegal ventures. But, in the end, he turns out dead, washed up on a beach.
Overall, the lyrics suggest that nothing lasts forever. Just like Phil ended up broke and dead, everyone goes through the same fate at some point.
7. Wildflowers By Tom Petty
Wildflowers is an alternative folk rock single by late American musician Tom Petty.
The song was released in 1994 as the lead single of Petty's second solo album of the same name. It was written by Tom and produced by Rick Rubin under the Warner Bros label.
Wildflowers reached no. 3 in the Billboard Lyric Find chart, no. 11 on the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales chart, and no. 16 in the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart. Likewise, the official lyrics video of the song has over 1.3 million views on YouTube, whereas the reissue version has 1.1 million views.
In the song, Tom talks about taking a long trip to the sea and sailing into new territories. The single encourages its listeners to move forward in life and also teaches them to never underestimate themselves.
Everybody deserves to have someone to love and make important decisions that might affect them in the long run. Similarly, the song also motivates the listeners to free themselves of the stresses and troubles of life every now and then.
8. Sloop John B By The Beach Boys
Sloop John B is a folk rock song by the American band The Beach Boys.
The single is an edited version of a Bahamian folk song of the same name.
The Beach Boys' version of the song was released in 1966 in their 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It went on to become a huge success in the US and UK. Rolling Stone labeled the track as the 276th Greatest Song of All Time in its 2011 edition.
The official video of Sloop John B has over 5.5 million views on YouTube. The song is about a sailor aboard a vessel named John B.
The sailor goes on countless adventures, gets drunk, and gets involved in fights. However, amid all the adventures, all he truly desires is to go home.
The song is focused on people searching for their destinies away from their homes and families. They go around the world and have exquisite lifestyles. But, all the luxuries in the world can't make them feel secure.
9. When the Ship Comes In By Bob Dylan
When the Ship Comes In is a folk song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
The song was released in 1964 as a single in his third album titled The Times They Are a-Changin. It was composed by Dylan and produced by Tom Wilson under the Columbia label.
When the Ship Comes In is a cult hit among Bob's fans and has garnered over 388k views on YouTube.
Dylan took the inspiration to write the song after a hotel clerk refused to allow him to enter a hotel room due to his unclean appearance. At the time, he wasn't very famous outside of the music community. The song is about the abuse of authority by people in power.
Through the song, Dylan talks about the changing circumstances and how one should take changes in their life positively. The lyrics also suggest that not everything is perfect in everything. Just like Dylan was rejected by a hotel clerk, every person must face their weaknesses.
The song teaches us to remain humble and take whatever life throws toward us on a positive note.
10. (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay By Otis Redding
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay is a soul song by the late American singer-songwriter Otis Redding.
Co-written by Otis and Steve Cropper, it was released after Redding's death in 1968. The single was featured in his seventh studio album The Dock of the Bay.
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay became the first posthumous song to peak in the US charts. It also reached the third position in the UK charts. Similarly, the song was uploaded on YouTube in 2012 where it has over 100 million views.
The song is about a sailor who left his home in Georgia to travel to Frisco Bay. However, he eventually loses all hope in life and becomes a sad bystander. The sailor watches the ships come and go as he wastes his life doing nothing.
The song is a metaphor for people wasting their lives seeking material possessions. But, in the end, all they are left with is to sadly spend their days as death approaches. It teaches us to set our priorities straight before it gets too late.
11. Wellerman By Nathan Evans
Wellerman is a sea-themed song by Scottish singer Nathan Evans. It was released by the musician in his 2021 album, Wenn die Kälte kommt.
Wellerman by Nathan Evans is a cover of a New Zealand sea ballad. The song focuses on the history of whaling in New Zealand.
In the past, whaling ships would often carry tea in their luggage to sell wherever possible. The ship in the song is called Billy of Tea for the same reason. The term Wellerman is used to point out the Weller brothers who were one of the earliest settlers of Otago, New Zealand. The brothers owned multiple ships at the time which were used for whaling.
The song is dedicated to sailors who risked their lives for whaling. Further, it also talks about the culture of importing sugar, tea, and rum through these boats.
12. Sailor’s Lament By Creedence Clearwater Revival
Sailor’s Lament is a rock song by the American band Creedence Clearwater Revival [CCR}. It was released as a single in the band's sixth studio album Pendulum in 1970.
The song was written by CCR's founding member John Cameron Fogerty. Sailor’s Lament is a favorite among the band's fans with over 318k views on YouTube.
The track is about an aging sailor who is slowly losing his influence on the people around him. The sailor experiences a feeling of shame as he becomes a victim of his changing surrounding.
Once a high and mighty sailor, he now gets beaten up in fights and has terrible hangovers. Even his friend Henry turns on him.
The song figuratively talks about the changes in life that everyone must go through and have no control over. The term "it's a shame" is a satire of people who had everything but eventually end up powerless.
Time is a powerful thing; it can turn the high and mighty into weaklings. Similarly, the track also conveys the message that what goes around, must come around.
13. All At Sea By Jamie Cullum
All At Sea is a jazz song by English pop singer turned radio host Jamie Cullum. It was released as a single in his third studio album Twentysomething in 2003.
Further, the song was uploaded on YouTube on Jamie's official channel in 2009. It has more than 3.1 million views as of 2023.
All At Sea talks about a sailor in the first person as he escapes into the emptiness of the sea with no one to bother him. The subject asks others to leave him alone as he goes through different emotions.
The song points towards the hardship of modern times where people often face loneliness. Like the sailor, people want to be left alone, but in the process, often lose their loved ones.
The single also shows the hypocrisy of life where we often procrastinate and sideline our friends and family. But, by the time we learn their value, they're long gone.
14. A Sailor’s Life By Fairport Convention
A Sailor's Life is a folk song by the English rock band Fairport Convention. It was released as a track in the band's third album Unhalfbricking in 1969.
Inspired by a folk song of the same name, the cover version was sung by Fairport Convention's vocalist Sandy Denny. The 1969 version of the song was allegedly recorded in a single take.
The song revolves around the perspective of a young woman who is in love with a sailor. However, as he is mostly away, she suspects the sailor has multiple lovers.
After her lover doesn't return, she wants to build a small boat and go search for him. The ship, which the woman's lover boarded, finally returns but she can't find him.
When she asks the crew, the woman learns that the sailor boy named William didn't return because he drowned in the sea. She mourns for her love and questions herself if she has anything to live for.
15. Sail Away By David Gray
Sail Away is a folk song by British musician David Gray. It was released in 1998 and featured in his fourth album White Ladder.
The single was composed by Gray and produced by Craig McClune, Iestyn Peston, Marius de Vries, and David.
Sail Away reached no. 11 on the US Billboard Triple A chart, no. 26 on the UK Singles chart, and no. 31 on the Irish singles chart. Similarly, its audio version was uploaded on YouTube on July 5, 2013, and has over 19 million views.
The song is about a man asking his lover to sail away with him. The subject has somehow lost his partner The lyrics suggest that the man didn't appreciate his lover when she was with him and now regrets his attitude toward her.
Simply put, the song spreads the message of "you never know what you've got, till it's gone."
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