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.

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Sail Away song meanings
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  • +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 "free...to 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
    Link(s)

    “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.”

    ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/africanpassageslowcountryadapt/sectionii_introduction.

    degree7on May 02, 2023   Link

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