Table of Contents
- 1. “Big Ship” by Freddie McGregor
- 2. “Brandy You’re a Fine Girl” by Looking Glass
- 3. “The Crystal Ship” by the Doors
- 4. “Rock The Boat” by Hues Corporation
- 5. “If I Had a Boat” by Lyle Lovett
- 6. “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
- 7. “Dreamboat Annie” by Heart
- 8. “Boats To Build” by Alan Jackson
- 9. “Cruel Ship’s Captain” by Bryan Ferry
- 10. “Ship to Shore” by Chris de Burgh
- 11. “Come Sail Away” by Styx
- 12. “Big Boat” by Peter Paul & Mary
- 13. “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers
- 14. “Ships” by Barry Manilow
- 15. “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffet
- 16. “Ship of Fools” by Robert Plant
- 17. “The Last Ship” by Sting
- 18. “Boats” by Kenny Cheney
- 19. “Ghost Ship” by Blur
- 20. “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford
Ships have been a crucial part of human history, serving as a means of transportation, exploration, and trade for centuries. From the great galleons of the Age of Exploration to the modern-day container ships that keep global commerce moving, ships have played an important role in shaping the world we live in. It’s no surprise that ships have also been a source of inspiration for musicians over the years, with many artists writing songs that celebrate the majesty and power of these great vessels. From sea shanties to rock anthems, songs about ships have been a source of inspiration for generations of musicians. In this article, we will be exploring the top 20 songs about ships, showcasing the different ways in which musicians have captured the essence of these great vessels. Whether it’s the thrill and adventure of life on the high seas, the romance and longing of a sailor’s love, or the power and majesty of these great floating cities, we will delve into the rich and diverse musical landscape that has been shaped by ships. So join us as we celebrate the power and beauty of these great vessels, and explore the top songs that pay tribute to the glory of the sea.
1. “Big Ship” by Freddie McGregor
“Big Ship” is a classic reggae song by Freddie McGregor, a legendary Jamaican singer and songwriter. The song was released in the 1980s and quickly became a staple of the reggae genre, beloved for its upbeat rhythm, catchy melody, and powerful message of hope and perseverance. The lyrics describe the journey of a big ship, facing the challenges of the sea, but ultimately triumphantly reaching its destination. The song’s message of resilience and determination is underscored by McGregor’s soulful vocals and the upbeat instrumentation, which features a driving reggae beat and pulsing bassline. “Big Ship” is an anthem of hope and a celebration of the human spirit, inspiring listeners to overcome obstacles and reach their goals. It remains a beloved classic of the reggae genre, a testament to McGregor’s artistry and the enduring power of reggae music.
2. “Brandy You’re a Fine Girl” by Looking Glass
“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” is a classic soft rock song by the American band Looking Glass. The song features the band’s smooth and soulful sound, characterized by its lush harmonies, catchy melody, and upbeat rhythm. The lyrics tell the story of a sailor who falls in love with a barmaid named Brandy, but ultimately must leave her behind as he continues his travels at sea. The song’s upbeat energy and catchy chorus make it an enduring classic, and its melancholic themes of unrequited love and longing have resonated with audiences for decades. Looking Glass’s ability to craft memorable and timeless music is on full display in “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”, making it a standout track in their discography. With its smooth harmonies, upbeat rhythm, and heart-wrenching lyrics, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” is a classic example of the soft rock genre and a must-listen for fans of the era.
3. “The Crystal Ship” by the Doors
“The Crystal Ship” is a melancholic and haunting song by the Doors that was released on their self-titled debut album in 1967. It was written by lead vocalist Jim Morrison and reflects his introspective and philosophical views on life and love. The song starts with a slow, reverberating guitar and Morrison’s distinctive, deep and bluesy voice singing about a crystal ship that symbolizes hope and escape from the realities of life. The lyrics describe a journey to find a better place, with the ship being a metaphor for the path to this destination. The music builds throughout the song, with a steady beat and Morrison’s passionate vocals growing more intense as the song progresses. The song ends with the repetition of the refrain, “Close your eyes, baby, relax, let the ride begin,” encouraging the listener to let go of their fears and embrace the unknown. “The Crystal Ship” is a powerful and emotive song that has become a classic in the Doors’ catalog and continues to inspire new generations of music fans.
4. “Rock The Boat” by Hues Corporation
“Rock the Boat” is a classic disco song recorded by American band Hues Corporation and released in 1974. The song features a catchy, upbeat rhythm and upbeat lyrics about enjoying life and letting go of worries. The song opens with a groovy bassline and a repetitive, singalong chorus that immediately draws the listener in. The lyrics encourage listeners to “rock the boat” and enjoy life to the fullest, without worrying about the future or the past. The song features prominent horns and keyboards, adding to its energetic and danceable feel. The vocal harmonies are tight and add to the overall upbeat vibe of the song. “Rock the Boat” has become a timeless classic, often featured in movies and television shows as a symbol of the disco era and is sure to get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor.
5. “If I Had a Boat” by Lyle Lovett
“If I Had a Boat” is a country ballad by American singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett. The song was first released in 1988 and has become a staple of Lovett’s catalog, known for its tender lyrics and haunting melody. The song is a simple expression of yearning, in which Lovett sings about the simple pleasures he would enjoy if he had a boat, such as fishing and spending time with friends on the water. The lyrics are introspective and poignant, capturing the sense of longing and escapism that often comes with dreaming about a simpler life. Lovett’s distinctive baritone voice is perfectly suited to the song’s mellow, folksy sound, while the spare instrumentation of acoustic guitar, fiddle, and mandolin adds to its simple beauty. “If I Had a Boat” is a song that stays with listeners long after it is over, a reminder of the power of music to evoke deep emotions and universal experiences.
6. “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a haunting and powerful folk song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. The song recounts the true story of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes freighter that went down in a fierce storm on Lake Superior in 1975. The song’s melody is simple and haunting, with Gordon Lightfoot’s rich and emotive vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano. The lyrics are poetic and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the stormy night and the fate of the ship and its crew. The song’s powerful and atmospheric soundscape, combined with its thought-provoking lyrics, create a moving and unforgettable musical experience. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a standout example of Gordon Lightfoot’s musical talent and storytelling prowess, and a testament to the enduring power of folk music to tell powerful and emotional stories.
7. “Dreamboat Annie” by Heart
“Dreamboat Annie” is a classic rock song by the American rock band Heart, released as the title track of their debut album in 1976. The song features a distinctive acoustic guitar riff and upbeat rhythm, with lyrics about a woman sailing away on a dreamboat in search of adventure and freedom. Lead singer Ann Wilson’s powerful voice delivers the vocals with confidence and passion, capturing the spirit of the song’s protagonist. The harmonies of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are a key component of the song, adding depth and emotion to the performance. The upbeat melody and positive lyrics create a feeling of hope and empowerment, making “Dreamboat Annie” an uplifting and inspiring song. Over the years, the song has become one of Heart’s most popular and enduring tracks, and remains a classic of the rock genre.
8. “Boats To Build” by Alan Jackson
“Boats to Build” is a country song by American singer-songwriter Alan Jackson. The song was released in 1992 and quickly became a staple of Jackson’s catalog, known for its introspective lyrics and traditional country sound. The song is a ballad about a man who has lost his direction in life and is searching for meaning. He finds solace in building boats, a task that requires focus and patience, and through this process he discovers a sense of purpose. The lyrics are contemplative and melancholy, capturing the feelings of loneliness and aimlessness that can come with a mid-life crisis. Jackson’s rich baritone voice is perfectly suited to the song’s soulful melody, while the steady acoustic guitar and harmonica add to its traditional country feel. “Boats to Build” is a song that speaks to the heart of many listeners, a reminder of the power of creativity and hard work to bring meaning and purpose to one’s life.
9. “Cruel Ship’s Captain” by Bryan Ferry
“Cruel Ship’s Captain” is a haunting and atmospheric song by British singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry. The song features Ferry’s signature smooth and soulful vocal style, backed by atmospheric keyboard and guitar arrangements. The lyrics tell the story of a sailor who has been taken captive by a cruel ship’s captain, and the singer’s plea for mercy and release. The song’s melody is haunting and memorable, with its haunting keyboard lines and atmospheric soundscapes creating a sense of drama and tension. Bryan Ferry’s ability to craft haunting and evocative songs is on full display in “Cruel Ship’s Captain”, making it a standout track in his extensive discography. With its haunting melodies, dramatic soundscapes, and thought-provoking lyrics, “Cruel Ship’s Captain” is a classic example of Bryan Ferry’s musical style and a must-listen for fans of atmospheric and haunting music.
10. “Ship to Shore” by Chris de Burgh
“Ship to Shore” is a smooth and romantic song by Irish singer-songwriter Chris de Burgh, released in 1986. The song is a mid-tempo ballad featuring de Burgh’s distinctive, soft-spoken vocals, backed by a gentle arrangement of piano, guitar, and strings. The lyrics describe a man who is thinking about his love and longing to be near her, like a ship sailing towards its home port. The imagery of the ship is used as a metaphor for the man’s journey to reunite with his love, with the sea representing the obstacles he must overcome. De Burgh’s tender and emotional performance brings the lyrics to life, making “Ship to Shore” a touching and nostalgic love song. The song’s timeless melody and lyrics have made it a popular choice for romantic moments, and a staple of de Burgh’s live performances.
11. “Come Sail Away” by Styx
“Come Sail Away” is a classic rock song by the American band Styx. The song was released in 1977 and quickly became a staple of the band’s catalog, known for its soaring vocals, lush harmonies, and imaginative lyrics. The song tells the tale of a young man who is drawn to the sea, captivated by the mystery and adventure of sailing. The lyrics are whimsical and dreamlike, painting a vivid picture of a world beyond the everyday, where anything is possible. The song’s soaring chorus, with its anthemic call to “come sail away,” is a testament to the band’s musical prowess and their ability to craft memorable, powerful hooks. The instrumentation, featuring a mix of keyboards, guitars, and orchestral elements, adds to the song’s grand, epic feel, making it a timeless classic of the rock genre. “Come Sail Away” remains a beloved anthem of adventure and escape, inspiring listeners to chase their dreams and explore the unknown.
12. “Big Boat” by Peter Paul & Mary
“Big Boat” is a folk song by the legendary American folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. The song was released in the 1960s and became a staple of the trio’s repertoire, known for its harmonious vocals, intricate harmonies, and powerful message. The song is about a big boat that sails on the sea, braving the dangers of the ocean and the elements to reach its destination. The lyrics are poetic and atmospheric, capturing the sense of adventure and bravery that is often associated with the sea. The harmonies of Peter, Paul & Mary, three of the most distinctive voices in folk music, add to the song’s emotional impact, while the simple acoustic instrumentation of guitar and banjo adds to its folksy feel. “Big Boat” is a song that has stood the test of time, a reminder of the power of folk music to tell universal stories and evoke deep emotions.
13. “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers
“Barrett’s Privateers” is a traditional folk song written and performed by Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers. The song was first released in 1979 and is one of Rogers’ most famous and well-loved works. “Barrett’s Privateers” is a sea shanty that tells the story of a group of privateers, or pirate hunters, who embark on a dangerous mission to capture French ships during the Seven Years’ War. The song features Rogers’ distinctive baritone voice and employs vivid imagery to bring the story to life, with its fast-paced melody and lively arrangement evoking the sounds of a bustling sea port. The song is a celebration of the bravery and adventure of the privateers, and a tribute to the traditions of seafaring life. With its catchy chorus and energetic performance, “Barrett’s Privateers” has become a staple of Canadian folk music and a beloved classic for generations of fans.
14. “Ships” by Barry Manilow
“Ships” is a sentimental and emotional ballad by American singer-songwriter Barry Manilow. The song features Manilow’s powerful and soulful vocal performance, backed by sweeping strings and piano arrangements. The lyrics reflect on the idea of moving on from a past love and the journey that comes with it, likened to a ship setting sail into the unknown. The song’s melody is haunting and memorable, with its sweeping strings and powerful vocals creating a sense of longing and nostalgia. Barry Manilow’s ability to craft emotional and memorable ballads is on full display in “Ships”, making it a standout track in his extensive discography. With its powerful vocal performance, sweeping strings, and thought-provoking lyrics, “Ships” is a classic example of Barry Manilow’s musical style and a must-listen for fans of sentimental and emotional ballads.
15. “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffet
“Boat Drinks” is a fun, upbeat song by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. The song was released in 1979 and quickly became a staple of Buffett’s catalog, known for its catchy melody, tropical vibe, and carefree lyrics. The song is about the joys of taking a break from the daily grind and setting out on a boat for some well-deserved relaxation. The lyrics are playful and lighthearted, describing the various drinks that one might enjoy on a boat, from fruity cocktails to cold beer. The song’s upbeat tempo and joyful melody perfectly capture the spirit of island living, while Buffett’s distinctive vocal style adds to its laid-back charm. “Boat Drinks” is a perfect anthem for summertime, a celebration of the simple pleasures of life and the joy of getting away from it all.
16. “Ship of Fools” by Robert Plant
“Ship of Fools” is a blues-inspired rock song written and performed by legendary English singer Robert Plant, released as part of his 1993 album “Fate of Nations.” The song features a driving beat, with Plant’s powerful and soulful voice delivering the lyrics with passion and intensity. The song is about a journey, with the “ship of fools” being a metaphor for life’s journey and the people we encounter along the way. The lyrics describe a journey of self-discovery and growth, with Plant’s bluesy and emotional performance conveying a sense of longing and yearning. The song’s powerful guitar riff and driving rhythm section create a dynamic and energetic sound, making “Ship of Fools” a standout track in Plant’s impressive musical catalog. The song has become a fan favorite and continues to be a staple of Plant’s live performances.
17. “The Last Ship” by Sting
“The Last Ship” is an introspective and haunting song by British singer-songwriter Sting. The song features Sting’s distinctive and soulful vocal style, backed by atmospheric acoustic guitar and piano arrangements. The lyrics reflect on the idea of returning home after a long journey, and the changing landscape and shifting perspectives that come with it. The song’s melody is haunting and memorable, with its introspective lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes creating a sense of introspection and nostalgia. Sting’s ability to craft introspective and haunting songs is on full display in “The Last Ship”, making it a standout track in his extensive discography. With its soulful vocal performance, atmospheric soundscapes, and introspective lyrics, “The Last Ship” is a classic example of Sting’s musical style and a must-listen for fans of introspective and haunting music.
18. “Boats” by Kenny Cheney
“Boats” is song by Kenny Cheney. This song pays tribute to one of the many things Kenny Cheney loves to do, riding the waves on a boat. He talks about sailing and music in this track, which are his two biggest passions. For Kenny, the boat represents freedom. It is a means to enjoy the outdoors and unwind.
19. “Ghost Ship” by Blur
“Ghost Ship” is an alternative rock song by the British band Blur. The song was released in 1997 and has become a staple of the band’s catalog, known for its haunting melody, atmospheric sound, and enigmatic lyrics. The song is about a ghost ship that sails the seas, searching for a place to rest and escape the storms of life. The lyrics are cryptic and moody, capturing the sense of isolation and longing that can come with wandering the seas. The song’s eerie melody and atmospheric soundscape, featuring distorted guitar and eerie keyboard sounds, add to its haunting quality, making it a standout track in the band’s discography. “Ghost Ship” is a song that stays with listeners long after it is over, a testament to Blur’s musical prowess and their ability to craft haunting, powerful music.
20. “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford
“Sea Cruise” is a classic rock and roll song recorded by American singer Frankie Ford, released in 1959. The song is an upbeat and energetic tune that features Ford’s distinctive, soulful voice and a catchy, danceable rhythm. The lyrics describe a sea cruise, with Ford singing about the fun and excitement of a journey on the open seas. The song is characterized by its upbeat, upbeat beat and the lively piano and saxophone solos, which create an infectious and energetic feel. “Sea Cruise” is a classic example of the rock and roll and rhythm and blues music of the 1950s and 60s, and continues to be a popular song for dancing and listening to this day. The song’s catchy chorus and upbeat vibe have made it a staple of oldies radio and a favorite among fans of classic rock and roll.