[John Mann talking about the song before playing it]
Thank you.
We're gonna do a song right now that...[whistle toot] uh, that I feel pretty good about.

[idle strumming/plucking/tuning of bass or guitar in the background]

This is kind of fun because my dad had written some poetry and he gave me a poem that I guess kind of expressed what had been happening in his life. And he gave me the poem and said "could you write some music for it?" And so I took it and wrote so basic music for it and brought it to the guys and they kinda helped...
[an odd discordant note is disapprovingly played on the bass in the background]
...yeah they helped a lot. We came up with this song and dad didn't give it to me with a name and we were fooling around with it one day and Geoff starting playing this jig "Ships in Full Sail" over top of the chords and it really worked out beautifully.

[John away from the mike] Thanks Geoff.
[Geoff into his mike] Your Welcome.

[They start playing the song]
Well I was sittin' by the shore
watchin' merchant seaman leave
the safety of their harbour
for the open reach of sea
and I reckoned that their life
was a ruthless one and lonely
and I contemplated only
it was here I'd rather be
so I rose and turned my back upon the sea

And then the metaphor took shape
in my mind a few days later
that the harbour was my history
and the sea a chance for change
That horizon beckoned me
[and when I stroked in that direction]?
I began to realize that it might be within my range
now I'm out here swimmin' in the waves of change

Now that horizon didn't seem
to be getting any closer
and it made me start to wonder
if it all might be in vain
then I began to understand
horizons don't get closer
rather you extend them further
every time you make some gains
so I keep on swimmin' in the waves of change
yes I keep on swimming in the waves of change
yes I keep on swimmin' in the waves of...

Lyrics submitted by dreamorph

Ships In Full Sail song meanings
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    My InterpretationThis has been a favourite of mine ever since I first played the dubbed cassette copy of the "Old Material" live album of Spirit of the West made for me by a friend. I have a outline symbolic personal philosophy that covers some of my thoughts about our past, present and future and how to integrate them, and this song plays an important role in the mobius strip, "siempre" description of the future. I talk about journey over destination, process over product and "being" instead of "having" as ways to look at your future, goals and plans.

    The signature of this kind of future philosophy is the last verse, and in particular the lines "I began to understand horizons don't get closer, rather you extend them further every time you make some gains."

    This is one of those songs I keep close in my memory and can sing from beginning to end, either to myself or to another, whenever the mood strikes me.

    The song/poem itself starts with the singer rejecting the idea of risking hardship or pain in search of some goal, enrichment or adventure. He contemplated only that his life was more confortable without the ruthless, lonely risk of setting out to strive for more. Then later thoughts arose of trying to bring change instead of resting under inertia in the safe, possibly ordinary place where your life and choices have brought you. And so he chooses a goal or destination to reach for, begins to believe he can attain it, and begins to strive toward it.

    The key revelation and meaning in the song for me comes in the last verse when he is discouraged because he cannot seem to make visible progress toward his goal and wonders whether it is a waste of time to try. Finally the idea becomes clear that it is not the goal that is most important, it is the striving toward it, the journey, the process, the brings the growth and progress that enriches your life and makes more things possible for you.

    I love the use of the horizon image, one that we can all bring to mind and whose behaviour we visually and instinctively understand. I makes a clear and beautiful metaphor for of a goal that seems to forever shift out of reach and stay too far away to attain, but the movement of the goal further away is a result of your progress, how far you've come, and also it brings access to more of the world and more to experience as you "extend your horizons."
    dreamorphon January 15, 2009   Link

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