Come Sail Away

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"Come Sail Away"
Come Sail Away - Styx.jpg
Single by Styx
from the album The Grand Illusion
B-side"Put Me On"
ReleasedSeptember 1977
Format7" vinyl
GenreProgressive rock, hard rock
Length3:10 (Single Version)
6:05 (Album Version)
Songwriter(s)Dennis DeYoung
Styx singles chronology
"Crystal Ball"
"Come Sail Away"
"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)"
Alternate cover

"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[edit]

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 "they climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies" which also imply biblical verses from Ezekiel (1:1-28).[1]


In popular culture[edit]

Although, the song hit its chart peak in 1978, Come Sail Away has had tremendous longevity in popular culture. It was arguably as popular in the 1980s (and in subsequent decades) as it was when released in the late 1970s.


The song appears on trailers and TV spots for the films Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, The Wild, Moana, and Big Daddy.

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)

In Modern Family’s episode Spring-a-Ding-Fling, a parody of the song is sang by realtor Phil Dunphy played by comedian Ty Burrell.

The song is performed by "Dagger" actress, Olivia Holt, in the season one finale of Cloak & Dagger (episode 10).


The song was used in the homecoming dance scene of The Virgin Suicides.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes released a cover on their album Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah, which was featured in commercials for season 3 off the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch in 2005.

Patty Pravo covered it as "Dai Sali Su" on her 1978 album Miss Italia.


In 2016 the song was ranked at number 72 by internet radio station WDDF Radio in their top 76 of the 1970s countdown.[2]

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ Mitchell, Jay. "Behind The Song Come Sail Away". Behind The Song.
  2. ^ "WDDF Radio".
  3. ^ Canadian peak
  4. ^
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.

External links[edit]