Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sail on, sail on ...

My fiancee (who will become my wife on Saturday afternoon) LOVES this Beach Boys song. I figured, hey, "Sail On, Sailor" is a good tune ... Let's take a look at some examples.

You folks give these a listen, then let's discuss which ones you like ... or don't like ... and any other angles of the song that strike your fancy.

Deal? Deal!


Here's the original studio version, the classic itself.

Beach Boys, live in 1973.

Sean Lennon and Mark Ronson, 2007.

Brian Wilson, David Letterman in 2001.

Ray Charles, Beach Boys 25th Anniversary in 1986.

Brian Wilson's band in Clear Lake, IA, on July 31, 2011.

Jimmy Buffett's cover, from one of his greatest hits collections.

I know that's a lot of versions of the same basic song ... but there are a lot of goodies there. The Clear Lake, IA, version is from a concert I actually was able to attend with my fiancee, my parents, an  uncle and an aunt, and my grandmother. It was a HECK of a great time.

Take the time to enjoy the versions, and then please - please, please, please - share your opinions about the song, the artists, the versions, the lyrics, the mood, the theme ... anything that grabs your attention.

Talk with you all soon!


(What follows is the Wikipedia entry for the song, to give you background information that I'd normally write by myself in essay format ... but I'll let Wikipedia do the work, this time.)

"Sail On, Sailor" was the final song recorded for the 1973 Beach Boys album Holland. The song was written by Brian Wilson, Ray Kennedy, Tandyn Almer, Jack Rieley, and Van Dyke Parks.

When the Beach Boys submitted the original version of Holland to Warner Brothers in October 1972, the album was rejected by the company for lacking a potential hit single. After discussion among Warner executives, an associate, Van Dyke Parks, said that he had a tape of a song that he had co-written with Brian Wilson entitled "Sail On, Sailor." Warner then told the Beach Boys to drop what the company perceived as the weakest track, "We Got Love," and replace it with the Wilson-Parks tune. The song eventually featured contributions (some dating back from 1971) from Ray Kennedy and Tandyn Almer, and underwent some lyrical revision from Beach Boys manager Jack Rieley.

Vocals for "Sail On, Sailor" were recorded in late October 1972, some time after the Beach Boys had left Holland. However, Brian Wilson was not involved at all with the song's recording sessions, leaving the basic track to be recorded by Brian's brother Carl and ex-Flame and then-Beach Boys members Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin. The lead vocal was first attempted by Dennis Wilson, who sang the vocal once before leaving to go surfing. Carl was the next to attempt a vocal, but he then suggested that Chaplin make an attempt. After two takes, Carl decided that Chaplin's vocal would feature as the lead.

"Sail On, Sailor" was released as a single in 1973, backed with "Only with You." However, the single only reached #79 on the singles charts. "Sail On, Sailor"/"Only with You" was re-released in 1975, and ended up charting higher, at #49.

Statements by Parks on Wilson's message board, however, suggest that the song was not really worked on by Wilson, but rather that Wilson gave him a few chords with a small melody. Parks states that part of the reason it was so heavily stressed to be a mostly Wilson composition (indeed, Parks had to sue to gain any credits at all) is because Warner Brothers had demanded Wilson return to writing music and to the front of the band—something Wilson was not willing to do.

It has also been stated by former Beach Boys engineer and mixer Steven Desper that the song was actually completed just after the release of Surf's Up in late 1971. The song was then remixed and a Blondie Chaplin vocal was re-recorded onto the original track.


  1. This box set is fantastic! All the music together as it should be, at long last, plus extras on disc two that prove Brian Wilson was the master of his domain, the world of pop music. Brian's Smile album in 2004 was also wonderful music, but I believe this tops it, just because the musicians and the voices of the Beach Boys were the best ever, better than anyone else in history.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Belgie. I'm guessing this goes with "The SMiLE Sessions" material, as "Sail On Sailor" hasn't received a box set yet. Still, I appreciate your feedback!


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