Come Sail Away
Writer(s): Dennis DeYoung (see lyrics here)
First Charted: September 10, 1977
Peak: 8 US, 9 CB, 15 GR, 9 HR, 9 RR, 1 CL, 9 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 18.7 video, 123.93 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
I discovered “Come Sail Away” retroactively. My first real awareness of Styx was “Babe,” their #1 hit in 1979. The song topped my first personal chart a whopping three years later when I didn’t make much distinction between current and classic hits. That chart also featured the band’s 1978 hit “Renegade” in my top ten and “The Best of Times” at #21. I bought the single for the latter while it was still on the charts in 1981, but didn’t get Paradise Theater, its parent album, until just after I started my charts and joined joined a record club where one gets 13 albums for a penny. I took Styx’s Paradise Theater as one of my selections and “The Best of Times” leapt back on my radar and hit #1 on my chart.
“Come Sail Away” was also on that first chart, although much farther down at a lowly #48. A year later, the song finally reached the top of my chart. Thanks to Paradise Theater and the follow-up 1983 Kilroy Was Here album, I had become a huge Styx fan and was ready to explore earlier work. While on a family vacation that summer, I’d plunked down my allowance for The Grand Illusion, the band’s 1977 album which featured “Come Sail Away.”
The song was Styx’s second trip to the top ten of the Billboard pop charts, following the #4 success of “Lady” in 1975. Thanks to “Come Sail Away,” the band became arguably the biggest band in America for the next few years, achieving four successive multi-platinum albums. The song was a ballad that builds to a “bombastic, guitar-heavy second half.” WK Like “Lady,” it was written and sung by Dennis DeYoung, the band’s primary vocalist. He took the lead on most of the band’s top ten hits, including “Babe,” “The Best of Times,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Don’t Let It End,” and “Show Me the Way.”
The song touches on “nostalgia of ‘childhood friends,’ escapism, and a religious thematic symbolized by a ‘gathering of angels’ singing ‘a song of hope.’” WK It “uses sailing as a metaphor to achieve one’s dreams,” WK DeYoung acknowledges in the song that sometimes one “misses out on the pot of gold, but continues to carry on.” SF He wrote the song after his frustration with not achieving his dream for greater success after the band’s first two A&M albums failed to generate the kind of sales he anticipated after the success of “Lady.” The band had built a decent following, but as a touring act they were always the support act and never the headliner. SF
The song maintained a presence in pop culture by featuring in TV episodes of Modern Family, ER, Glee, Freaks and Geeks, South Park, Community, and The Goldbergs.
First posted 8/6/2020; last updated 1/17/2023.
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