Ready to set sail on a musical adventure? Today, we’re diving into the world of songs about boats. From folk classics to rock anthems, these songs transport us to the vast expanse of the open sea, capturing the spirit of exploration, freedom, and the allure of distant horizons.
Whether you’re a lover of tranquil melodies that evoke the calmness of sailing or prefer the exhilarating energy of songs that mirror the unpredictable nature of the ocean, we’ve got you covered.
Hop aboard as we navigate through a playlist filled with captivating tunes that celebrate the mystique and beauty of life on the water.
Top 33 Songs About Boats
1. “Sailing” by Christopher Cross
Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” is a timeless masterpiece that perfectly captures the spirit of setting sail on open waters. Released in 1980, this Grammy-winning song became an instant classic, resonating with listeners across generations.
The soothing melody and Cross’s smooth vocals create an atmosphere of tranquility, transporting us to a place where the world’s worries fade away. “Sailing” is more than just a song; it’s an escape, inviting us to embark on a metaphorical journey of self-discovery and find solace in the ocean’s vastness.
2. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a haunting ballad that recounts the tragic events of November 10, 1975, when Edmund Fitzgerald, a massive freighter, sank in Lake Superior. With meticulous attention to detail, Lightfoot’s poetic lyrics paint a vivid picture of the ill-fated ship, the brave crew, and the relentless power of the Great Lakes.
This emotionally charged song pays tribute to the lives lost and the dangers faced by those who navigate treacherous waters, serving as a poignant reminder of the unforgiving forces of nature.
3. “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross” is an enchanting journey across the vast southern seas. Released in 1982, this folk-rock gem captures the yearning for adventure and self-discovery that can be found in any sailor’s heart.
The song’s mesmerizing harmonies and intricate guitar work create an atmosphere of wanderlust, transporting us to exotic shores and uncharted waters. “Southern Cross” celebrates embracing the unknown, navigating life’s challenges, and finding solace and purpose amidst the ocean’s vastness.
4. “Red Sails in the Sunset” by The Platters
“The Red Sails in the Sunset,” sung by The Platters, is a romantic voyage into the depths of love set against a backdrop of a captivating sunset at sea. Originally written in 1935, various artists have covered this song, but The Platters’ rendition remains a timeless classic.
The smooth harmonies and lush orchestration evoke a sense of nostalgia, capturing the bittersweet longing for a love that may have slipped away. With every note, “Red Sails in the Sunset” paints a picture of tranquility, where dreams merge with the fading light and the promise of new horizons emerges.
5. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass
Looking Glass’s “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” is a catchy pop-rock anthem that tells the tale of a sailor’s unrequited love for a barmaid named Brandy. Released in 1972, the song’s infectious melody and upbeat rhythm have made it a beloved favorite.
The lyrics weave a story of longing and sacrifice as Brandy remains loyal to her seaside town while the sailor grapples with his love for her. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” captures the bittersweet essence of unattainable love, leaving listeners humming along and pondering the complexities of the heart.
6. “Come Sail Away” by Styx
Styx’s “Come Sail Away” is an epic rock anthem that invites listeners to embark on a transcendent musical journey. Released in 1977, this iconic song blends progressive rock with a touch of theatricality, creating a captivating sonic experience.
With its soaring melodies and powerful vocals, “Come Sail Away” takes us on an imaginative voyage where the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur. The song’s sweeping crescendos and introspective lyrics inspire us to embrace our dreams and set sail toward uncharted horizons, forever chasing the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
7. “Orinoco Flow” by Enya
Enya’s ethereal masterpiece, “Orinoco Flow,” casts a spell of enchantment and wanderlust. Released in 1988, this enchanting song whisks us away on a mystical voyage, where the river Orinoco becomes a metaphor for the boundless possibilities that lie beyond our shores.
Enya’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, layered harmonies, and atmospheric instrumentation create a sense of otherworldly tranquility. “Orinoco Flow” captures the essence of exploration and the longing to escape the confines of our everyday lives, beckoning us to set sail on a voyage of self-discovery and embrace the wonders that await us.
8. “The River” by Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks’s heartfelt ballad, “The River,” navigates the currents of dreams and aspirations. Released in 1992, this country classic tells the tale of a young dreamer who sets sail on the river of life, determined to carve out his destiny.
With its evocative lyrics and Brooks’s passionate delivery, “The River” speaks to the universal desire for adventure and fulfillment. It serves as a reminder to seize the opportunities that come our way, navigate the twists and turns with resilience, and embrace the ever-changing tides that shape our lives.
9. “Boats & Birds” by Gregory and the Hawk
Gregory and the Hawk’s “Boats and Birds” is a delicate indie-folk gem that floats on a sea of dreamy melodies. Released in 2006, this reflective song paints a tender picture of fleeting moments and the passage of time.
With its gentle acoustic guitar, ethereal vocals, and poetic lyrics, “Boats and Birds” captures the beauty of transience and the longing for connection. It reminds us of the delicate nature of relationships and the importance of cherishing the memories we create together as we navigate the vast ocean of life.
10. “Sail” by AWOLNATION
AWOLNATION’s “Sail” is an electrifying blend of alternative rock and electronic music that ignites a rebellious spirit within its listeners. Released in 2011, this energetic anthem channels the raw power and unpredictability of the open sea.
With its pulsating beats, edgy vocals, and provocative lyrics, “Sail” embraces a sense of defiance and liberation. It resonates with those who seek to break free from societal constraints and embark on a daring adventure, defying the currents that aim to steer them off course.
11. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin’s timeless classic, “Beyond the Sea,” takes us on a romantic voyage across the azure waters. Released in 1959, this jazz-infused tune captures the essence of longing and the allure of distant shores.
Darin’s smooth vocals, accompanied by a lively big band arrangement, evoke a sense of nostalgia and adventure. “Beyond the Sea” conjures images of sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and the eternal quest for love. With its infectious charm and dreamy atmosphere, this song invites us to set sail and discover the treasures beyond the horizon.
12. “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett
In the laid-back world of Jimmy Buffett, “Boat Drinks” serves as a carefree anthem for those seeking refuge from the daily grind. Released in 1979, this tropical rock tune transports us to a sun-soaked paradise where worries are left behind.
With its catchy melodies and Buffett’s signature Caribbean-infused sound, “Boat Drinks” creates an atmosphere of relaxation and escapism. It beckons us to raise a glass, feel the sand between our toes, and embrace the freedom and joy of life on the water.
13. “Ship to Wreck” by Florence + The Machine
Florence + The Machine’s “Ship to Wreck” is a dynamic and reflective exploration of personal turmoil and self-destruction. Released in 2015, this alternative rock track delves into the chaos and wreckage we sometimes create in our own lives.
Florence Welch’s powerful vocals and the band’s intense instrumentation convey a sense of vulnerability and resilience. “Ship to Wreck” serves as a reminder of the storms we encounter, both internal and external, and the strength we possess to navigate the turbulent waters and rebuild what has been damaged.
14. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
Bob Marley’s reggae classic, “Three Little Birds,” brings hope and reassurance amid life’s challenges. Released in 1977, this uplifting song reminds us that everything will be alright no matter how rough the seas may be.
Marley’s infectious rhythm, soulful voice, and optimistic lyrics create a soothing balm for the soul. “Three Little Birds” encourages us to cast away our worries, embrace the present moment, and find solace in the simple joys of life as we sail through the ups and downs.
15. “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image
Blues Image’s “Ride Captain Ride” is a rock anthem that embodies the spirit of adventure and wanderlust. Released in 1970, this high-energy track captures the excitement of a maritime journey with its driving rhythm and electrifying guitar riffs.
The song’s enigmatic lyrics and infectious hooks create an atmosphere of thrill and anticipation. “Ride Captain Ride” vividly depicts a ship sailing into uncharted waters with endless possibilities and unknown destinations. It ignites a sense of freedom and discovery, reminding us to embrace the exhilaration of exploration.
16. “A Pirate Looks at Forty” by Jimmy Buffett
In maritime-inspired tunes, Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty” stands as a heartfelt reflection on the passage of time and a yearning for the carefree days of youth. Released in 1974, this folk-rock gem takes listeners on a nostalgic journey, painting vivid images of sun-soaked beaches, swashbuckling adventures, and the wisdom gained from a well-lived life.
Buffett’s distinctive voice, accompanied by acoustic guitars and island-inspired rhythms, transports us to a place where the sea breeze whispers stories of resilience, lost dreams, and the eternal search for meaning amidst the waves.
17. “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles
The Beatles’ whimsical masterpiece, “Yellow Submarine,” offers a playful and imaginative voyage through the ocean’s depths. Released in 1966 as a part of their iconic album Revolver, this psychedelic-pop tune invites listeners to embark on a colorful, submarine-shaped vessel where joy, camaraderie, and music know no bounds.
With its catchy chorus and infectious melodies, “Yellow Submarine” has become an anthem for unity, reminding us that even in stormy waters, there’s always a song to lift our spirits and carry us to a place of harmony and togetherness.
18. “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish’s haunting “Ocean Eyes” ballad mesmerizes with its introspective journey through love and vulnerability. Released in 2016, this breakout hit showcases Eilish’s ethereal vocals and introspective songwriting, capturing longing and the power of connection.
“Ocean Eyes” metaphorically transports us to an oceanic realm where emotions ebb and flow, evoking enchantment and heartache. It serves as a reminder that love can be as vast and mysterious as the boundless sea, leaving an indelible mark on our souls.
19. “Beyond the Horizon” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s reflective and poetic song, “Beyond the Horizon,” offers a contemplative journey through the vast expanse of possibilities that lie just out of reach. Released in 2006, this folk-rock composition showcases Dylan’s lyrical prowess and soul-stirring vocals.
“Beyond the Horizon” explores longing, self-discovery, and the eternal quest for meaning. It urges us to set sail into the unknown, embrace the uncertainties that lie ahead, and navigate life’s ever-changing currents with courage and an unwavering spirit of adventure.
20. “Smooth Sailing” by Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age’s “Smooth Sailing” ventures into alternative and stoner rock realms, exuding edginess and rebelliousness. Released in 2013, this high-octane track embraces a rough and turbulent ride, mirroring the unpredictable nature of the ocean itself.
The distorted guitars, driving rhythms, and Josh Homme’s gritty vocals create an atmosphere of controlled chaos. “Smooth Sailing” captures the essence of resilience, urging us to navigate the choppy waters of life with determination and a fearless spirit. It’s a reminder that sometimes the most exhilarating journeys are found amid the storm.
21. “Anchors Aweigh” by Charles A. Zimmerman
“Anchors Aweigh” is the official song of the United States Navy and a timeless tribute to the maritime traditions of the naval forces. This rousing military march, written by Charles A. Zimmerman in 1906, encapsulates sailors’ pride, honor, and camaraderie. The spirited brass arrangements and stirring lyrics evoke a sense of unity and patriotism.
“Anchors Aweigh” serves as a musical rallying cry, representing the unwavering dedication and sacrifice of those who protect our shores. It’s a reminder of the importance of naval traditions and the indomitable spirit that propels sailors through the vast oceans.
22. “Beyond the Blue Horizon” by Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald’s timeless rendition of “Beyond the Blue Horizon” encapsulates the spirit of exploration and the yearning for discovery. Originally recorded in 1930, this jazz-infused tune carries us on a nostalgic journey to a bygone era.
MacDonald’s captivating vocals, accompanied by sweeping orchestral arrangements, evoke a sense of longing and anticipation. “Beyond the Blue Horizon” paints a picture of uncharted territories, inviting us to cast off the constraints of the familiar. It inspires us to embrace the thrill of the unknown and seek treasures beyond the blue expanse.
23. “Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B” immerses us in camaraderie and adventure on a sailing vessel. Released in 1966, this folk-rock classic combines lush vocal arrangements with vibrant instrumentation.
It tells the story of a sailor yearning for home, sharing the joys and challenges of life at sea. The song captures a sense of community amidst the rolling waves, reminding us of the bonds that unite us.
24. “The River” by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s introspective ballad, “The River,” flows with raw emotion, capturing longing, lost dreams, and time’s passage. Released in 1980, this Americana rock track delves into the symbolic journey down the river of life. Springsteen’s heartfelt vocals and poetic lyrics paint a vivid picture of hopes and aspirations colliding with the realities of adulthood.
“The River” poignantly reminds us of the bittersweet nature of aspirations and the need for resilience in navigating life’s currents. It calls us to reflect on our choices, embrace the journey, and find redemption amidst the ebb and flow.
25. “Island in the Sun” by Weezer
Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” transports us to a sun-kissed paradise where cares drift away. Released in 2001, this alternative rock track infuses joy and escapism with catchy guitar riffs and an infectious chorus.
It celebrates nature’s solace, reminding us to find moments of respite amidst life’s challenges. This song becomes a soundtrack for daydreams and a reminder to seek bliss wherever we may be.
26. “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray
Dobie Gray’s soulful classic, “Drift Away,” carries us on a melodic voyage of introspection and connection. Released in 1973, this timeless ballad resonates with themes of longing for escape and the power of music. Gray’s velvety vocals and gentle instrumentation create an atmosphere of tranquility and introspection.
“Drift Away” resonates with the longing for solace and freedom in transporting melodies. It encourages losing ourselves in music, finding unity and peace as rhythm and lyrics carry us away from troubles.
27. “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’s powerful anthem, “Wrecking Ball,” sets sail on a turbulent voyage through love and self-discovery. Released in 2013, this pop-rock ballad showcases Cyrus’s expressive vocals and raw vulnerability. “Wrecking Ball” explores the emotional wreckage that can occur when relationships end, leaving us adrift in a sea of heartbreak.
It serves as a reminder of our resilience, urging us to embrace the tumultuous journey of healing and growth. The song’s soaring chorus and emotive lyrics create a cathartic experience. It reminds us of our strength to rebuild and find a new purpose amidst the wreckage.
Concluding Our Journey Through Songs About Boats
As we reach the shores of our musical journey exploring songs about boats, we reflect on the diverse melodies that have accompanied us.
From serene ballads evoking tranquility to spirited anthems igniting adventure, these songs capture the maritime spirit. They remind us of the allure of exploration, the power of nature, and the universal longing for freedom.
Whether daydreaming of sailing into the sunset or seeking solace in the rhythm of waves, these songs provide a maritime soundtrack. Let these melodies inspire you to set sail and embrace the endless possibilities beyond the horizon.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.