May 132013

Greetings, fellow Townspeople! I come before you with the latest edition of yet another long-running feature here in the Hall, entitled “Hidden Meanings.” Long-timers will know what is expected of them here: we are required, as enquiring rock nerds, to try and parse out what authors of noteworthy lyrics really mean by the words they write. So, jointly, we set our minds towards the collective (re)interpretation of words that may have passed the critical community’s gaze without the careful scrutiny which they may have deserved.

In this case, the words we need to parse for hidden, double meanings are offered by Dennis DeYoung, of Styx. The song is “Come Sail Away.” My question for the collective is as follows: one might think that this song is about sailing away — or, if you’re able to stick around for the shock twist ending, about space aliens. But what does a more serious study reveal? What does DeYoung really mean by the following:

I’m sailing away
Set an open course for the Virgin Sea
‘Cause I’ve got to be free
Free to face the life that’s ahead of me

On board, I’m the captain
So climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I’ll try, oh Lord, I’ll try to carry on

I look to the sea
Reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy, some sad
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had

We lived happily forever
So the story goes
But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold
But we’ll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of Angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said

They said, “Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me baby
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me”

I thought that they were Angels, but to my surprise
We climbed aboard their starship, we headed for the skies

Singing, come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads.

I look forward to your responses.



  6 Responses to “Hidden Meanings: Styx”

  1. I’ve always considered this song to reflect DeYoung’s desire to leave Styx and form a supergroup in what he thought would be Rock ‘n Roll Heaven but turned out, instead, to be George Clinton’s Mothership. The band was to be built around Jimi Hendrix; the real Paul McCartney (ie, the one who actually died); and original Funkadelic drummer Tiki Fulwood, who DeYoung correctly sensed would die 2 years after the release of “Come Sail Away.”

  2. misterioso

    No, I don’t think there are any hidden meanings. I think it is a literal treatment of an actual experience of Dennis DeYoung’s. Think about it: it would explain a lot.

  3. ladymisskirroyale

    If you substitute “shave” for sail, and “barbers” for angels, this is a clear “should I stay or should I go” dilemma for the band members and their various facial hair choices.

  4. cherguevara

    He’s happy with things the way they are, but after a time he is offered something that promises potentially greater reward and freedom, but only at the risk of vast unknowns. He thinks of his childhood memories and dreams to realize that he must walk away from his inner-child in order to reach this higher state. In other words, this song is about his vasectomy.

  5. 2000 Man

    Should I shave or should I grow?

  6. mockcarr

    Once upon a time, when I was 11 years old, all I wanted was to be in a rock and roll band and have enough money to own my own fishing boat. But now that I’m a coked out rock icon, what I really found out is that fish smell, my yacht has barnacles, my bandmates suck, the girls I screw only want my money and drugs, and being an astronaut is way cooler.

    Song written by De Young when he was 12.

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