Sail to the Rhythms of the Sea: Exploring the Best Sailing Songs

Sail to the Rhythms of the Sea: Exploring the Best Sailing Songs Blog

The Ultimate List of 10 Best Sailing Songs

No matter your musical preference, folk, rock, reggae, or pop, there's a tune waiting for you in exploration of these timeless themes. As we delve into the world of sailor songs, you'll discover that artists across genres and eras have been drawn to the allure of the sea, stories of maritime adventures and the bliss of summer into their compositions.

  1. Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin)

"Beyond the Sea" is a classic sailing pop song originally recorded by American singer Bobby Darin. It was written by Charles Trenet, with French lyrics originally titled "La Mer". Bobby Darin recorded "Beyond the Sea" in 1959. for his album titled "That's All." Darin's interpretation featured a more upbeat, jazzy arrangement compared to the original French version. It became one of his signature songs and a classic of the era. Bobby Darin's version of "Beyond the Sea" reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States in 1960.

The song has endured as a classic over the years and has been covered by numerous artists from various genres. It continues to be a popular choice for performances and is often associated with the nostalgia of the 1950s and 1960s.

Many artists have covered the boating song over the years, including Frank Sinatra, George Benson, and Robbie Williams, among others. Each artist brings their unique style to the song, giving it a fresh interpretation with each rendition.

  1. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay (Otis Redding)

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" is a famous soul song performed by American singer and songwriter Otis Redding. It was released posthumously in January 1968. Tragically, Otis Redding had died in a plane crash in December 1967., just days after recording the song. The song became an instant hit, reaching the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and staying there for four weeks.

The song is a blend of soul and R&B, featuring Redding's signature raspy and emotional vocals. It's known for its laid-back, melancholic feel, characterized by its slow tempo and simple, memorable melody.

The song is considered one of the greatest soul songs ever recorded and is often included in lists of the greatest songs of all time. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay" received two Grammy Awards, for Best R&B Song and for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

  1. Sailing (Rod Stewart)

"Sailing" is a popular song performed by British rock and pop singer Rod Stewart. It was released as a single in 1975. The song became a massive hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and topping the charts in the UK. The song was originally recorded by The Sutherland Brothers in 1972., but it achieved its greatest success when Rod Stewart covered it.

The song is a sailing soft rock and pop ballad characterized by its mellow and soothing melody. It features Stewart's distinctive raspy vocals and is accompanied by orchestral arrangements that contribute to its grand and emotional feel. The song's narrator expresses a desire to set sail and explore the open sea as a means of finding freedom and fulfillment.

  1. Sail away (David Gray)

"Sail Away" is a song by British singer-songwriter David Gray. It was released in 1998. as part of David Gray's fourth studio album, "White Ladder." The album was a breakthrough for Gray and played a significant role in establishing his international career.

The song falls into the folk-rock and adult alternative genres. It features acoustic guitar, piano, and Gray's distinctive raspy vocals. "Sail Away" has a melancholic yet comforting quality that resonates with listeners.

The narrator of the song invites listeners to "sail away" with them to a better place, where worries and troubles can be left behind. The song's lyrics explore themes of freedom, hope, and the desire for a new start. David Gray's "Sail Away" is a song that resonates with listeners due to its emotional depth and themes of escapism and hope.

  1. Wellerman (Nathan Evans)

The song "Wellerman" is an old sailing song that gained significant popularity in early 2021., particularly on social media platform TikTok, and it was popularized by Scottish singer Nathan Evans.

"Wellerman" is a traditional sea shanty that dates to the 19th century. Sea shanties were work songs sung by sailors to coordinate tasks and boost enthusiasm during long voyages. The song refers to the "Wellerman," a supply ship that would bring essential provisions to crews.

Nathan Evans is a Scottish folk singer and musician who gained widespread recognition for his rendition of "Wellerman." He recorded the song and shared it on TikTok in late 2020. His version featured a simple a cappella arrangement with layered harmonies. Nathan Evans's viral success with "Wellerman" played a role in reviving interest in sea shanties and traditional folk songs. It led to a broader appreciation for this genre of music, inspiring other musicians, and enthusiasts to explore and share similar songs.

  1. Sailing (Christofer Cross)

"Sailing" is a sailing soft rock song by American singer-songwriter Christopher Cross. It was released in 1979. as part of Christopher Cross's self-titled debut album. The song became an enormous hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It also won several Grammy Awards in 1981., including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Arrangement of Voices and Instrumentals.

"Sailing" is characterized by its smooth and mellow sound, featuring gentle acoustic guitar, electric piano, and Christopher Cross's soft, soothing vocals. The song's arrangement is often described as a prime example of the "yacht rock" subgenre, known for its relaxed and melodic style.

The lyrics of "Sailing" shows a sense of tranquility and escapism, with the narrator expressing a desire to sail away to a peaceful and idyllic place. The song's lyrics evoke a sense of freedom and serenity.

  1. Sailing Not Selling (Jhené Aiko)

"Sailing Not Selling" is a song by American singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko. It is featured on Jhené Aiko's debut studio album, "Souled Out," which was released  in 2014. The album marked a significant moment in her career as it established her as a prominent figure in contemporary R&B and soul music.

"Sailing Not Selling" is characterized by its dreamy and atmospheric sound. Jhené Aiko's soft and emotive vocals blend seamlessly with the song's gentle instrumentation, creating a mood that is both introspective and soothing.

The lyrics explores themes of self-discovery, personal growth, and authenticity. Jhené Aiko sings about her journey to find her true self and her desire to navigate life on her own terms, "sailing" through life rather than "selling" out to conform to societal expectations.

  1. Sail on Sailor (The Beach Boys)

"Sail On, Sailor" is a song originally recorded by the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released in 1973. as part of The Beach Boys' album "Holland." The song featured lead vocals by Blondie Chaplin, a South African musician who briefly joined the band.

"Sail On, Sailor" is characterized by its rock and soul influences, featuring a dynamic arrangement that combines elements of rock, blues, and pop. The lyrics of "Sail On, Sailor" convey a sense of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. The narrator of the song expresses a willingness to keep moving forward despite challenges, using nautical imagery to evoke a sense of strength and perseverance.

  1. Come Sail Away (Styx)

"Come Sail Away" is a classic sailing rock song by the American rock band Styx. IT was released in 1977. as part of Styx's album "The Grand Illusion." The song became one of the band's most iconic and enduring hits.

"Come Sail Away" is characterized by its epic and anthemic style. It features a combination of rock and progressive rock elements, with prominent keyboard and synthesizer parts, soaring vocals, and a dynamic arrangement.

The lyrics of "Come Sail Away" tells a fantastical and somewhat surreal story. The song's narrator expresses a desire to escape reality and embark on a mystical journey, where they meet otherworldly beings. The song's title serves as an invitation to sail away to a place of dreams and imagination.

  1. Kingston Town (UB40)

"Kingston Town" is a reggae sailing away song performed by the British reggae/pop band UB40. It was released in 1989. as part of UB40's album "Labour of Love II." The song became a massive hit, reaching the top of the UK Singles Chart.

"Kingston Town" features the signature reggae sound of UB40, characterized by laid-back rhythms, smooth melodies, and prominent use of brass instruments. The song captures the spirit and feel of reggae music.

The lyrics of "Kingston Town" express a sense of longing and homesickness. The narrator of the song reflects on a lost love and the desire to return to Kingston, Jamaica, where they once found happiness. The lyrics are nostalgic and touching.

Songs about sailing for those who want to know more

  • Calypso (John Denver) 
  • Nightswimming (R.E.M)
  • Isla Bonita (Madonna)
  • Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)
  • I Can See Clearly now 
  • In the summertime (Mungo Jerry)
  • Island in the Sun (Harry Belafonte)
  • Gente di Mare (Umberto Tozzi & Raf)
  • La Mer (Charles Trenet)
  • Where the Boat Leaves From (Zac Brown)

Timeless Songs About Sailing

Sailing songs have a unique and enduring charm that transcends generations and musical genres. The songs about sailing, wind and boats have the power to transport us to the open sea, evoke the thrill of adventure, and give a sense of freedom and serenity.

From folk ballads that tell the tales of maritime legends to rock anthems that capture the exhilaration of wind-filled sails, the world of sailing songs is as diverse as the ocean itself. They remind us of the human spirit that has dared to conquer the seas, explore the unknown, and embrace the simple joys of life on the water.

Sailing songs are a timeless reminder that, no matter where life's voyage takes you, the call of the sea and the magic of music will always be there to guide you on your journey.

As the saying goes, "For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it's always ourselves we find in the sea."

What are sailors songs called?

They are called sea shanties. A sea shanty (or chantey) is a type of work song traditionally sung by sailors and seafarers aboard sailing vessels, such as tall ships and merchant ships, during the age of sail. 

Who originally sang the song "Sailing"?

"Sailing" is a popular song performed by British rock and pop singer Rod Stewart. It was released as a single in 1975. The song became a massive hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and topping the charts in the UK. The song was originally recorded by The Sutherland Brothers in 1972., but it achieved its greatest success when Rod Stewart covered it.

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