In America, you get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet
You'll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American

Ain't no lion or tiger, ain't no mamba snake
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cake
Everybody is as happy as a man can be
Climb aboard, little wog, sail away with me

Sail away, sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away, sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

In America, every man is free
To take care of his home and his family
You'll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree
You're all gonna be an American

Sail away, sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away, sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira

Sail Away Lyrics as written by Randy Newman

Lyrics © TuneCore Inc., BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Songtrust Ave, Actual Music, S.L., Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Sail Away song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +2
    General Comment

    The deception that is the "American Dream", here symbolized by the importation of Africans. Newman's observations don't end with past injustices, and, I believe, he is equating that scenario to modern American slavery. Every race, creed, and religion is " take care of his home and his family".

    mycology101on May 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song is a prime example of why Randy Newman is a genius and why his audience (which includes me) is so small. I know this sounds negative but most Americans do not have the ability to recognize good satire when they hear it. In addition, most Americans don't posses enough historical knowledge to use when hearing a song like this.
    I love how Randy Newman seems to play the character of a salesmen attempting to persuade the African people to come to America. I agree with Mycology 101's point though that the song actually expands beyond that perimeter. It sounds to me as if Randy Newman's sales pitch is going out to the whole world and the pitch is based on America's tendency to believe that our country is by far the most superior. He jabs at the idea of how free we think we are versus how free we actually are. The song is rife with sarcasm (in America youu just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day) that gives the song a second layer of depth. !st and foremost the song is a song about how slavery, but it also expands to critique the fallacy of "the American dream".
    Newman actually expands on the concept of our tendency to blindly embrace the idea that our way of life, the American way of life, is superior to everything else on a song that appears on that same album called "Political Science".

    NateFairbankson April 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Another reminder that Randy Newman has bigger balls than any other songwriter before him or after him. It's great how the song starts sounding sweet and ends up being incredibly condescending and belittling once you realize what it's about.

    yallon January 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Randy Newman puts himself in the shoes of a slave trader. He's coaxing black people from Africa to come to America in a sing-song type of voice.

    "Wog" is a racial slur towards blacks.

    The song is great because doesn't appear to be condescending at all, it just seems to be a song about how great America is, but then you realize that it's actually about slavery.

    Someone who doesn't know what "wog" means might say "YEAH" when they hear this song and think about the goodness of America, but if you know what it means you can see that it's actually pretty grim. There are still people starving in America, everybody isn't happy, not everyone is free, and slaves certainty can't take care of their families.

    Nonfactoron October 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I'd like to know what this song is really about to find out how this is condescending!
    anybody know what yall is talking about?

    mandmguesson August 23, 2006   Link
  • 0

    “Scholars estimate that over forty percent of all enslaved Africans sent to North America entered through Charleston Harbor — making Charleston the largest North American point of disembarkation for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

    degree7on May 02, 2023   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Light Up The Sky
Van Halen
The song lyrics were written by the band Van Halen, as they were asked to write a song for the 1979 movie "Over the Edge" starring Matt Dillon. The movie (and the lyrics, although more obliquely) are about bored, rebellious youth with nothing better to do than get into trouble. If you see the movie, these lyrics will make more sense. It's a great movie if you grew up in the 70s/80s you'll definitely remember some of these characters from your own life. Fun fact, after writing the song, Van Halen decided not to let the movie use it.
Album art
Son Şansın - Şarkı Sözleri
This song seemingly tackles the methods of deception those who manipulate others use to get victims to follow their demands, as well as diverting attention away from important issues. They'll also use it as a means to convince people to hate or kill others by pretending acts of terrorism were committed by the enemy when the acts themselves were done by the masters of control to promote discrimination and hate. It also reinforces the idea that these manipulative forces operate in various locations, infiltrating everyday life without detection, and propagate any and everywhere. In general, it highlights the danger of hidden agendas, manipulation, and distraction, serving as a critique of those who exploit chaos and confusion to control and gain power, depicting a cautionary tale against falling into their traps. It encourages us to question the narratives presented to us and remain vigilant against manipulation in various parts of society.
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."
Album art
I Can't Go To Sleep
Wu-Tang Clan
This song is written as the perspective of the boys in the street, as a whole, and what path they are going to choose as they get older and grow into men. (This is why the music video takes place in an orphanage.) The seen, and unseen collective suffering is imbedded in the boys’ mind, consciously or subconsciously, and is haunting them. Which path will the boys choose? Issac Hayes is the voice of reason, maybe God, the angel on his shoulder, or the voice of his forefathers from beyond the grave who can see the big picture and are pleading with the boys not to continue the violence and pattern of killing their brothers, but to rise above. The most beautiful song and has so many levels. Racism towards African Americans in America would not exist if everyone sat down and listened to this song and understood the history behind the words. The power, fear, pleading in RZA and Ghostface voices are genuine and powerful. Issac Hayes’ strong voice makes the perfect strong father figure, who is possibly from beyond the grave.
Album art
Plastic Bag
Ed Sheeran
“Plastic Bag” is a song about searching for an escape from personal problems and hoping to find it in the lively atmosphere of a Saturday night party. Ed Sheeran tells the story of his friend and the myriad of troubles he is going through. Unable to find any solutions, this friend seeks a last resort in a party and the vanity that comes with it. “I overthink and have trouble sleepin’ / All purpose gone and don’t have a reason / And there’s no doctor to stop this bleedin’ / So I left home and jumped in the deep end,” Ed Sheeran sings in verse one. He continues by adding that this person is feeling the weight of having disappointed his father and doesn’t have any friends to rely on in this difficult moment. In the second verse, Ed sings about the role of grief in his friend’s plight and his dwindling faith in prayer. “Saturday night is givin’ me a reason to rely on the strobe lights / The lifeline of a promise in a shot glass, and I’ll take that / If you’re givin’ out love from a plastic bag,” Ed sings on the chorus, as his friend turns to new vices in hopes of feeling better.