Sail Away (Randy Newman album)

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Sail Away
Randy Newman-Sail Away (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1972
StudioAmigo Studios, Western Studios, Poppi Studios, Los Angeles
ProducerLenny Waronker and Russ Titelman
Randy Newman chronology
Randy Newman Live
Sail Away
Good Old Boys
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
Robert ChristgauA−[2]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[3]

Sail Away is an album by Randy Newman, released in May 1972. It was produced by Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman and issued on Reprise Records. While all of its songs were written and composed by Newman, several had already been recorded by other artists.

In 2003, it was ranked number 321 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Music and lyrics[edit]

As with all of Newman's early albums, several of its songs had been previously recorded by other artists. In this case, "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" had been a UK hit for Alan Price in 1967, and "Dayton, Ohio - 1903" had been recorded by Billy J. Kramer as a single in 1969 and by Harry Nilsson on his 1970 album Nilsson Sings Newman. Newman himself had also previously recorded "Last Night I Had a Dream" as a single, issued in September 1968. The version heard on Sail Away is a re-recording with a notably different arrangement.

"You Can Leave Your Hat On" was later recorded by Joe Cocker in 1986 and this version was featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 film 9½ Weeks starring Kim Basinger.

"He Gives Us All His Love" was also initially written and recorded by Newman in a sparser and slower arrangement for the 1971 film Cold Turkey. The film issued no soundtrack, and the first commercially available recordings of this song were issued by Sundance (March 1971) and Ed Ames (October 1971).[citation needed]

The song "Lonely at the Top" was written specifically with Frank Sinatra in mind, although he never recorded it.[4] Newman himself had already released it (in a solo live performance) on his previous album, Randy Newman Live (1971).

Release history[edit]

The album was reissued by Rhino Records on May 5, 2002, with several previously unreleased bonus tracks.[5]


Brian Wilson has said that this album profoundly affected him at the time of its release, briefly keeping him from sliding further into depression and mental illness.[6] In particular, Wilson noted that he listened to Sail Away "over and over" while physically writing down the lyrics which became the "Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale)" suite from the 1973 Beach Boys album Holland.[7]

"Burn On" is heard over the opening credits of the 1989 movie Major League. According to the film's director, David S. Ward, he chose the song because it was the only one he knew of that was about Cleveland, Ohio, which is where the movie takes place. The chorus of the song, "burn on, big river, burn on," refers to when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to pollution in 1969.

The song "Old Man" can be heard at the closing credits of Noah Baumbach's 2017 film The Meyerowitz Stories.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Randy Newman.

Side one
1."Sail Away"2:56
2."Lonely at the Top"2:32
3."He Gives Us All His Love"1:53
4."Last Night I Had a Dream"3:01
5."Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear"2:00
6."Old Man"2:42
Side two
7."Political Science"2:00
8."Burn On"2:33
9."Memo to My Son"1:56
10."Dayton, Ohio - 1903"1:47
11."You Can Leave Your Hat On"3:18
12."God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)"3:36
CD bonus tracks
13."Let It Shine"1:40
14."Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong" (studio version)1:21
15."Dayton, Ohio - 1903" (early version)1:53
16."You Can Leave Your Hat On" (demo version)2:45
17."Sail Away" (early version)3:18


  • Judy Maizel, Trudy Portch – production assistant
  • Lee Herschberg – recording and mixing engineer
  • Bob Kovach, Bruce Botnick, Donn Landee, Harold "Lanky" Linstrot – engineer
  • Mike Salisbury – graphics, photography


  1. ^ Deming, Mark. Sail Away Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Randy Newman". Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (6 July 1972). "Randy Newman: Sail Away". RS 112. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Desert Island Discs: Randy Newman". 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  5. ^ Discogs, retrieved 2015-05-08
  6. ^ Carlin, Peter Ames; Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson at Google Books.
  7. ^ YouTube video: Brian Wilson 1976 Full Interview; 1976 interview with Bob Harris.