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"Sail Away" is representative of Newman's trademark unconventional and clever approach to songwriting: it 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… read more

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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

Randy Newman - Sail Away Lyrics


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  • randy, jim simon here thank you for that observation
  • This thoughtful, austere piano ballad about the slave trade finds Newman's slaver protagonist attempting to convince his African listeners to climb aboard his ship and "sail away" with him to the promised land of America. Newman explained to NPR in a May 8, 2013 interview: "I wrote about slave trade from the view of the recruiter from the slave trade. He is talking, you know, come to America and then talks about using that and I didn't another way to do it. I mean, you could say the slave trade is bad, horrendous or a great crime of the nation, but I chose to do differently."
  • a masterpiece
  • genius lyrics.
  • We will cross the mighty ocean in the Charleston Bay.
  • you get food de ee (to eat)
  • Further to the below, if you like great singer/songwriters with truly meaningful and well-constructed lyrics, click on my NoMoreSongs icon and play my NoMoreSongs radio, containing Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Janis Ian, Harry Chapin, Julie Covington (singing Pete Atkin and Clive James songs) and so many more, including, of course, Randy Newman, whose eclectic cynicism I adore.
  • ctd55, I so much agree with what you say about irony. Here - and with most great Randy Newman songs like Political Science and That's Why I Love Mankind - there is a truly profound irony. So far from what the Tarantinites later claimed was irony and devalued the word completely.
  • So many tears, joy and pain

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