Top Sailing Songs
Catch the Wind, Donovan
Lost Sailor, Grateful Dead
Sailing, Rod Stewart
Into the Mystic, Van Morrison
Sloop John B, Beach Boys
Changes in Latitudes, Jimmy Buffet
Source: American Sailing Association
The American Sailing Association is a venerable organization to which I belong as a professional mariner. I hold ASA credentials to teach three certified courses. Having said that, the ASA list is flawed for lacking “Sailing,” by Christopher Cross. It is the single-most mentioned song by my guests, followed by another one that doesn’t bear repeating. But in fairness, ASA stipulates these as classic rock ‘n’ roll.
“Sailing” broke in 1980 and became an instant hit for the fantasy: “Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be / just a dream and the wind to carry me / And soon I will be free.” Everything about the song is evocative, shimmery, escapist, lyrical, beautiful–and correct. Those who go sailing for the first time remark afterward that it was just like Christopher Cross said.
Then again, VH1 named it the “greatest soft-sational song of all time,” which is silly but probably true. Many artists have covered the song, and it plays in a continuous loop at Disneyland and Disney World. From the viewpoint of social media, the song shows up quite high in google searches for the word sailing. Storybase.com refers to it in three of its top ten searches for terms such as “who sang Sailing?”
Meanwhile, the list of seven rock songs epitomizes a strange anomaly about sailing. For all its glamour, the sport has produced few memorable songs. The only other one that people on my boat recall is the theme from “Gilligan’s Island,” a despicably stupid sit-com that lasted only few seasons until it was catapulted into perpetual syndication.
Movies about sailing are also disappointing.
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