Dutch Courage: The Beach Boys’ “Sail On, Sailor”

(This article has been updated and expanded in the book Song Book; it originally appeared in Shindig! issue #57)

When the Beach Boys recorded ‘Sail On Sailor’ in ’73, there could not have been a better metaphor than the sailor to characterize the band and its circumstances. The group was facing the possibility that some of its key members might no longer participate, and it had relocated to another continent in search of new artistic directions. In that context, ‘Sail On Sailor’ stands as a bold declaration of determination in the face of turbulence. And, like all great seafaring sagas, the story of ‘Sail On Sailor’ itself is full of improbable characters and unexpected occurrences. Continue reading