Come Sail Away
|"Come Sail Away"|
|Single by Styx|
|from the album The Grand Illusion|
|B-side||"Put Me On"|
|Genre||Progressive rock, hard rock|
|Styx singles chronology|
"Come Sail Away" is a song by American progressive rock group Styx, written and sung by primary singer and songwriter Dennis DeYoung and featured on the band's seventh album The Grand Illusion (1977). Upon its release as the lead single from the album, "Come Sail Away" charted at #8 in 1978 on the Billboard Hot 100, and helped The Grand Illusion achieve multi-platinum sales in 1978. It is one of the biggest hits of Styx's career.
Musically, "Come Sail Away" combines a plaintive, ballad-like opening section (including piano and synthesizer interludes) with a bombastic, guitar-heavy second half. In the middle of the second half of the album version is a minute-long synthesizer instrumental break.
Background and writing
Styx member Dennis DeYoung revealed on In the Studio with Redbeard (which devoted an entire episode to the making of The Grand Illusion), that he was depressed when he wrote the track after Styx's first two A&M offerings, Equinox and Crystal Ball, sold fewer units than expected after the success of the single "Lady".
Lyrically, the song uses sailing as a metaphor to achieve one's dreams. The lyrics touch on nostalgia of "childhood friends," escapism, and a religious thematic symbolized by "a gathering of angels" singing "a song of hope." The ending lyrics explain a transformation from a sailing ship into a starship, by narrating that "we climbed aboard our starship and headed for the skies" which also imply biblical verses from Ezekiel (1:1-28).
- Dennis DeYoung - lead vocals, piano, synthesizer
- Tommy Shaw - lead guitar, backing vocals
- James Young - rhythm guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals
- Chuck Panozzo - bass
- John Panozzo - drums
In popular culture
Although, the song hit its chart peak in 1978, Come Sail Away has had tremendous longevity in popular culture. It was arguably popular in the 1980s (and in subsequent decades) as it was when released in the late 1970s.
In the 2018 Netflix release Like Father the song is the choice of the main characters Rachel and Harry for their winning performance in the cruise karaoke championship.
The song appears as a plot point to the South Park episode "Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut". If Cartman hears any portion of the song, he feels a compulsion to sing the rest of it. On Chef Aid: The South Park Album, he does a cover of the song.
It scored the end of the pilot episode of Freaks and Geeks, in which the leading character finally gets the courage to ask a popular girl to slow dance. Though she agrees, the guitar-heavy second half kicks in before they can start dancing as originally intended.
A version of the song performed by Aimee Mann is used in the TV show Community in the Season 5 episode, "Geothermal Escapism," for the nautical departure of Donald Glover's Troy Barnes. In the first season, he'd confessed to crying upon hearing the original version of the song.
The song also appears in ER's season 7, episode 19 ("Sailing Away"), where Doctor Greene sings along.
In Generation Kill several of the Marines sing the chorus as they travel.
The song is parodied as "Please Say You'll Stay" in the Fish Hooks episode "Labor of Love".
The song was in The Goldbergs season 1, episode 2 ("Daddy Daughter Day"). The song again appears in season 5, episode 4 (“Revenge ‘o the Nerds”), sung by Erica Goldberg at a Revenge of the Nerds-style musical finale.
The song is performed by the New Directions on an episode of the hit television show Glee . (Season 6, Episode 11)
The song is performed as part of a Broadway musical in Mozart in the Jungle's first episode. Hailey plays the oboe section of the piece along with Cynthia at the cello. (Season 1, Episode 1)
The song was used in the homecoming dance scene of The Virgin Suicides.
Patty Pravo covered it as "Dai Sali Su" on her 1978 album Miss Italia.