“In America you’ll get food to eat
Won’t have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet”

— Randy Newman, songwriter, musician, lyricist, from the song “Sail Away”.  Song quotes, song lyrics


Lyrics and interpretation

“Sail Away” takes the form of a “come on” or a “pitch” from an American slave trader to potential slaves. The slaver attempts to convince his listeners to climb aboard his ship and “sail away” with him to America (specifically Charleston), which he portrays as a land of happiness and plenty.

The lyrics contain several subtle references to the extreme ideological dichotomy going on in America at the time of the slave trade. For example, the slaver sings “In America, every man is free,” emphasizing the American ideal of liberty. However, after a caesura he quickly concludes that sentence with “to take care of his home and his family,” implying that every man in fact isn’t “free” in every sense of the word.

“Sail Away” has been widely praised by critics and Newman fans as one of his finest works. It is often cited among the best tracks on one of his best albums. Like many Newman songs, the relative simplicity and “hominess” of the music contrast powerfully with the emotional fortitude of the lyrics.

“Sail Away” has been covered by many artists in live performances, notably, Ray Charles, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Etta James, Frankie Miller, Roseanna Vitro, Bobby Doyle, Linda Ronstadt, Ann Wilson, Dave Van Ronk, Harry Nilsson and Dave Matthews.

Bobby Darin covered the song on his last album before he died in 1972 – Motown’s Bobby Darin.[1] Newman later said, “Bobby Darin could sing, but he did “Sail Away”, and, well… I don’t think he understood it. He did it like was a happy song about coming to America.”

It is listed at #264 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. continued at source

“Sail Away”

In America you’ll get food to eat
Won’t have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You’ll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It’s great to be an American

Ain’t no lions or tigers
Ain’t no mamba snake
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cake
Ev’rybody is as happy as a man can be
Climb aboard, little wog
Sail away with me

Sail away
Sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away
Sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

In America every man is free
To take care of his home and his family
You’ll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree
You’re all gonna be an American

Sail away
Sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away
Sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

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