The Ultimate Boat Soundtrack
You know, it’s interesting because, for as many songs as there are about cars and driving, there’s really not that many about boats. There’s plenty of great music to listen to on a boat (it’s music–pretty much everything works depending on your mood), but songs that are actually boat-themed? Surprisingly not that many!
Here are ten boat songs and how we feel about them.
- “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain. If you were on YouTube in February 2009, you couldn’t have missed this rap parody song—it was the #1 video! The lyrics are ridiculous but that didn’t stop the song from being nominated for the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Damn it feels good to be a gangster!
- “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett. Ironically, Jimmy Buffett wrote this song on a cold night at a bar in Boston, shortly before stealing a cab. We don’t care where it was written and we’re not judging– he had us at the title.
- “If I Had a Boat” by Lyle Lovett. Can anybody tell us what in the world this song is about? There’s a lot to unpack in the lyrics here but sure, okay, we’d ride a pony on a boat out on the ocean if we could too?!
- “Pontoon” by Little Big Town. What’s not to love about this unapologetic redneck, slightly suggestive song about day-drinking, barbequing, and catching rays all afternoon on a pontoon boat? Dude, sold!
- “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash. This song title refers to the constellation that’s frequently used in the Southern Hemisphere for celestial navigation, much like Polaris is used in the Northern Hemisphere. Stephen Stills wrote it when he got divorced and took a long boat trip; it’s about harnessing the power of the universe to heal your wounds. That’s special!
- “Banana Boat (Day-O) by Harry Belafonte. This traditional Jamaican folk song is a work song. You know the story– dock workers that have been loading bananas onto a boat all night and now it’s morning and they want to go home. Obviously, singing this song as you apply Banana Boat brand sunscreen is mandatory.
- “Come Sail Away” by Styx. Sailing is a metaphor for achieving one’s dreams in this enduring 1978 hit that’s been used heavily on TV shows including Modern Family, Freaks & Geeks, Glee, ER, and Community. Cartman’s rendition on South Park is probably our all-time favorite version.
- “The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. A song with a side of history! Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot considers this 1976 song his greatest work. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was a massive freight ship that sank during a November, 1975 storm on Lake Superior, sending all 29 crew members to Davy Jones’ Locker. We appreciate a song with a story and dig the Irishy-feeling folk vibe.
- “Rock the Boat” by Hues Corporation. Even if they think they don’t, everybody knows this disco hit from 1974 that contains plenty of nautical metaphors and compares managing a relationship to keeping a ship upright. Yeah we can see that!
- “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. No list of boat songs has ever been (or will ever be) complete without mentioning the very epitome of our personal favorite music genre– “yacht rock.” In 1980, “Sailing” racked up Christopher Cross four Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. VH1 one listed “Sailing” as the most “sensational soft rock song” of all time and you know what? They’re not wrong!