"Wooden Ships" as written by Paul L. Kantner, David Crosby and Stephen A. Stills....
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Wooden Ships song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commenti believe the lyric should be coat, not coke, but i could be wrong. as for what it means, i think that it is about a group of people leaving a post apocalyptic place, to go to a better world.
    notthatguysomeoneelseon March 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is sort of a science fiction story about a post nuclear holocaust world and a group of survivors who take out on wooden ships and escape the radioactive nightmare on the mainland.

    It could also be seen as analogous of the counter-cultures plight against mainstream culture and wanting to escape to their ideal of utopia. Kantner took this further with his Blows Against the Empire story, where they escape off into space.

    At the end of the song they try to appeal to the younger generation, to "ride the music" and bring the much needed change to society.

    A beautiful love song to humanity.

    brumuson November 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, I think the lyrics is 'coat'. And what's with the bit at the beginning?

    Anyway, I believe this song is about the horrors of a post-nuclear war scenario, and two soldiers from opposite sides have just stumbled across each other.

    As for the Wooden Ships bit, I think brycec3 is right, it seems to be about leaving this annhilated world and going somewhere better... I imagine probably through Acid knowing the Airplane.
    jonchappleon June 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is coat - it refers to a meeting between 2 soldiers (who, obviously, are distinguished by the colour of their coats).

    I prefer the Airpane version to the CSN version, but I think both are great.
    different_13on November 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAirplane version is undoubtedly best, but the CSN version is still pretty damn good.

    The lyrics at the top definitely don't fit the version of the song I'm familiar with. I always got a 'nam vibe from it, along with the feeling that whoever wrote it just wishes to retreat to a simpler civilization, away from all the BS infesting America.
    'Silver people' is used to directly contrast 'wooden ships', probably to represent the infrigement on humanity, nature, and simplicity by industry and cities, or even more likely, by war.

    Maybe it's just to symbolise their opposal to war?
    mammadaddioon December 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song is about escaping from the greedy business world where everyone is after the silver.
    But not alone..
    Take her by the hand, take her to the new land.
    Your friends can make it without you. Its in their power to find it if they want to.
    BOBOBOon May 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, i think the basic backdrop or story line is fairly apparent. but like so many other good songs, what keeps me coming back is really the feeling, the atmosphere, the...

    ...well in this case also the power. this song begins so quietly and casually, and eventually reaches that peak where Grace is wailing "You don't need us!" while Jorma cracks open a lightning bolt with the treble knob on 11. after that, they really had to add the "go ride the music" section... we couldn't just go home from there like nothing happened.

    it is also interesting in that there are a number of different versions of this song. The CSN studio version is so much more monochromatic, or mono-emotive... a bit dry.

    The live CSNY version from Woodstock takes that same arrangement, but it gets transformed by the wild energy of playing a new and lightly-rehearsed song, by a brand new band, in front of half a million people, mostly on acid, in a storm. That version has a grand and scary energy that makes an interesting contrast with the more laid-back and etherial, but equally magnificent, power of this JA version.
    dcbaon December 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI'm fairly sure this song isn't quite fantasy oriented like many others have stated, instead, I believe it takes the perspective of a soldier in vietnam.

    The beginning seems to indicate he is lost on this land "I can see by your coat my friend, you're from the other side"
    Then he gets lost in this jungle surviving off of these purple berries for 6 or 7 weeks now, hasn't got sick once..

    At first I believed that the wooden ships would have been the soldiers transport back home. But there are too many flaws with that theory. So I believe the wooden ships turned into a hobby as he returned home.

    Perhaps for fishing, sailing, just an activity that is peaceful, free.

    The character then meets a girl back home, he falls in love and takes his horrors of the war away by spending time with her. But they both watch as his horrors mentally kill him.

    It is also very possible knowing Jefferson Airplane, that they get into acid in this story. They start to escape from this foreign land mentally. I believe that he met this girl before the war and returned to her, that is how is what died, he didn't literally die, it was the character before the war that died, and the character after is a monster.

    Anyone who has experienced acid would agree that "Go ride the music" is indeed a reference to acid. Inferring these characters ending their pain through escape. Very sad, realistic song. One of my favorites from the airplane.
    TheCaterpillarson June 22, 2012   Link

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