Sail

Album: Megalithic Symphony (2011)
Charted: 17 17

Songfacts®:

  • Aaron Bruno used to leave high school without saying goodbye to his friends because it was easier, so they used to nickname him 'Awol' (absence without leave). When Bruno decided to form his own band after being part of major label Californian groups Under the Influence of Giants and Hometown Hero, he decided to name it after his high school moniker. Awolnation released their debut album Megalithic Symphony digitally on March 15, 2011, and the physical CD was released two weeks later on Red Bull Records.
  • This is the album's lead single, which debuted at #89 on the Hot 100 dated September 3, 2011. It came about during a period in which Bruno and his keyboardist Kenny Carkeet were financing themselves by writing for other artists but found they were making little money. When they came up with song's beat Bruno decided to record it himself rather than selling it to another artist for a pittance. This fueled the fire to form Awolnation.
  • Lyrically, the song's protagonist is wanting to "sail" away from his problems, which are overwhelming him, and it seems he is unable to shake off the fear of not being able to meet up to people's expectations. In an interview with the Red Bull company, Bruno was asked if the lyrics are about suicide. He replied: "Well that's a dangerous world to talk about. I don't condone that but I definitely know what it's like to feel so low in your life that you wonder what the point is being around. I'd say 80% of people have fantasized about that for a second."
  • Bruno explained the album title, saying: "When I write these songs my ideas come out of nowhere and I couldn't really explain to you why they happen or how. If you look at megalithic structures it's been suggested that there's really no explanation for where these things come from and why they're here. The rock on the cover image is a place I saw in my brain one day. Hopefully one day you'll discover it too."
  • Speaking to Toronto.com, Bruno said the song was initially a diversion that took him less than an hour to record. "That was written at a time where I didn't know what direction I wanted to go," he said. "I was sitting at the studio trying to make these little pop songs for aspiring pop artists for chump change, [with] barely enough money to buy a bean and cheese burrito."

    So, he decided to try to come up with something that was quirky and unusual. "I came up with the string section part at the beginning, and the song just came to me," Bruno explained. "I recorded the strings, the beat and the synth — all within 45 minutes. My engineer went down the street to get some sodas for us, and by the time he got back, I'd sung the lyrics and it was done. It happened so quickly it was almost an accident."
  • The song's sci-fi music video features Bruno being pulled by a mysterious force before being levitated up to the sky. The clip was directed by one of the singer's friends, Cameron Duddy, who appears as a rapper on the band's song "Knights Of Shame" under the name The Gatsby. Bruno explained the video's concept to Culture Brats: "We didn't have a hit song or anything yet, so we got... I don't want to say the bottom end of the barrel, but the ideas weren't the best ideas. It was all cheeseball s--t like 'and then we're gonna have this girl who's a seductress in vinyl and all these flames and s--t.' I'm like, what? That sounds horrible. That sounds like a Puddle Of Mudd video or like a new Metallica video, 'Give me fuel, give me fire,' that whole scene. And then Cameron called me one day and was like, 'I got it: you're abducted by aliens.' And I'm like,' Obviously, that's the video.' But we knew we weren't going to have an actual alien in it. We just wanted to provoke thought and the idea of questioning society and all those fun cliché things that we all like to do. It was an idea that wasn't meant to be taken literally. I've seen a lot of crazy conspiracy stuff which I tend learning about as well but the whole idea is just to be searching for the answers of the unknown."
  • Bruno wrote the song before the band had a record deal. He explained to Artist Direct, "I was in a studio where I could do something like that with an engineer who was talented enough to help accommodate my ideas at the moment. I'm lucky that it came out of me quickly and easily at that time. I didn't think much about it. I just thought I had a good song I'd written, and I was proud of it. I was going through a dark time so the lyrics are admitting some feelings I was having at the time. That ended up being the one that opened up everything for us."
  • The song first got noticed in July 2010, when the Austin DJ Toby Ryan played it as a staff pick on KROX (101.5). Within a week, listener call-ins made "Sail" the station's most-requested new tune. Spins elsewhere gradually followed, and later in the year it went viral on the back of a couple of user-generated YouTube videos.

    "Sail" first debuted at #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on the week of September 3, 2011, before dropping out four months later. Following its use in various advertisements including a BMW commercial and TV shows the tune re-entered the tally in mid-2013. It then undertook a slow ascent up the chart and when the song climbed to #24 on the listing dated the week ending September 21, "Sail" became the first song in history to reach a new peak after spending more than a year on the Hot 100.
  • The metal band DevilDriver released a popular cover of this song on their 2013 album Winter Kills. In our interview with their lead singer Dez Fafara, he explained: "The lyrics of 'Sail' really hit home with me. I've been dealing with attention deficit disorder my whole life; I was on medication for it all through my childhood. So the lyric, 'Blame it on my ADD, baby,' really set me off. And then of course, the chorus, being 'Sail,' I've been on the road almost 20 years, so that really set it off, as well. And as soon as I heard the song, it had a great groove, a great catch to it."

Comments: 10

  • Turner Ashby from From Dripping Springs, TexasCat, I agree with you so much. I am a 14-year-old student in middle school and I have ADHD. I want help so much but I often don't get it from the teachers who don't understand it (or want to try to understand it). I don't feel very motivated anymore because I do try and then I fail something and get told I'm stupid and lazy and labeled and stereotyped if I try to say I have ADHD. Fortunately for me, I had two amazing teachers last year that had ADHD or worked with Special Ed and they made school a little bit better. I have been called space cadet by teachers and told that I won't go anywhere and it hurt so much but I can't do anything about it because if I say anything I'm "blaming it on my ADHD" I hear people sometimes say "I went a little ADHD just then" and they know almost nothing about it and don't even have it. It hurts so much to hear that because they think they can relate to me and they get attention for it and I end up getting nothing even though I try so hard. I would be lying if I told you suicide hasn't ever crossed my mind. I tried running away because I don't like that my dad pushes me around and my mom always yells at me and calls me a dumbass whenever I do something wrong. I got drove back home by my dad and all he did was tell me to get a shower and go to bed. There was never any "Sorry were hard on you" or "How can we help you" and my dad got mad at me for doing it. I am told all the time that I am just not trying hard enough and that I am smart enough but I need to try harder. I was held back in Kindergarten and in second grade I was diagnosed with ADHD. Until around the end of sixth grade, I thought I was stupid and just a loser because I thought was no big deal like everyone said. I was even yelled at and scolded by my second-grade teacher for a while until I got a classroom change. I was always treated the exact same as everyone else that is "normal" and never received help. I try to ask for help and explain that I have ADHD and that I am a little different. I try to tell not only my teachers and other kids but my parents too. My parents think I am a disappointment. If anybody sees this please I beg you if you have a child with ADHD or are a kid that doesn't have it be kind to the people who have it. Please don't claim to have it (or any disorder) if you don't. I'm not asking you to go out your way I just ask that you understand that ADHD is a mental disorder and many kids like me are bullied and are treated like s--t and actually have a higher chance of becoming depressed and killing ourselves. Just try to be there for them if they don't have anyone else because I have almost no one and I want to escape this hard life I have. I refuse to kill myself because I try to make myself happy and I don't let anyone tell me to do what they do to be cool and I don't make friends with people who want to change you. However, many people don't have my mindset and eventually decide they've had enough. The sad thing is that the people who kill themselves only have people feel bad after they have killed themselves. I beg you don't tell people to kill themselves because you never know what they are going through and they may seem happy and great and successful on the outside but on the inside they may just want to end it. If you see a kid that has ADHD getting constantly told they need to try harder don't hesitate to stand up for them it will make them feel so much better! I'm going to stop ranting now if you have read to here thank you and please take time to think about what I have said!
  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkI love Awolnation & Sail. My boyfriend at the time Sail was first released told me about the song & Awolnation. I'd never heard of them before. My guy, who loves to be called Simple Simon has ADD. I love him so much and believe that our love for Awolnation brought us together. I hope Songfacts puts up more songs by this band. They have only 3 posted now & that's not right. The band has had several hits on the Modern Rock charts at Billboard. That pic of Aaron Bruno on Songfacts isnt too flattering of him either. I've seen better pics of the dude & he's one hot looker. I think they're going to release another album soon too.
  • Cat from United StatesChris and Zane, I agree with you on this completely. They need to stop over diagnosing it. I was told I may have something like it as a child as was put on stuff for it (mistake) and it only made my mental health worse. And with the over diagnoses of ADD, and other things like that, people f--king stereotype you because people use that excuse like it's their lifeline. So when I literally can't do something and I ask for help, I have not gotten it, because of people with this or who don't actually have it, and who BLAME IT ON THEIR ADD, and don't do s--t. It's the over diagnosing, the stereotyping, and the lazy f--ks, that prevent people who have very strong worth ethics from ever getting the help they truly deserve. I personally blame the school systems, because they, one are against bullying but bully students for being different and needing help, two, don't give the students the help they need, and three and most importantly, they are supposed to teach us how to use our resources in the world, The world SAIL in the song, to me, the the schools Sailing off the bodies of all the kids with problems. Because our futures were stomped on before we could correctly spell our names, and some had to learn that one on there own.

    But it could also be a reference to the Military. like that the only place you can go because, well hahaha you have ADD and you cant do anything like every has told you your whole life.

    Reading about them calling him AWOL for that reason in high school, he has a personality disorder, which include all the symptoms of ADD in them but also depression and anxiety, and the fear of losing people. If you are given ADD pills you don't need 100% you could develop these, because now there more prevalent, and its being researched. I have had to research it for my own knowledge.

    This is my opinion, and this song, BTW im 16, when it came out it was right before I was aware of stuff I was doing, I didn't get the meaning, but the song just meant something, like ik it did. It's clearly stated to me now. I'm happy I'm not living in a fantasy about it.
  • Zane from Toronto, OnThough this story may be told from the point of view of someone who has ADD, I believe that they're focusing on the fact that they have a dissociative mental disorder, causing him to feel no love for anyone and lose all interest in life. When he sings, "Blame it on my ADD" he's hiding his dissociation behind his Attention problems.
  • Chris from Norman, OkNever thought much of this song but after a friend reintroduced me to it I am hooked. I actually look at it different. ADD is the most overdiagnosed thing in the world. Everything is blamed on ADD these days.
  • Rocky from Fort Smith, ArI love the song "Sail" and Awolnation. My girlfriend Big Beula loves everything by Awolnation now. She had ADD as a terrible tot & when she heard the lyrics mention "blame it on my ADD, baby!!" she had to know more about it. I had the CD "Megalithic Symphony" already & we met and I fell in love with her. She, however, only loved me for my Awolnation CD. But that's OK. Since "Sail, " I've got to love other Awolnation songs like "Burn It Down" "Kill Your Heroes" and "Wake Up." Here it is early 2014 & we're still hearing Awolnation songs on alt rock radio. And Awolnation's releasing their next new CD soon. So.....don't touch dat dial!
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkBelieve me, this song is one of many very good songs on their "Megalithic Symphony" CD. The production & the instrumental skill make this album outstanding. I love "Kill Your Heroes," "Wake Up" -- a real stompin' rocker, "Not Your Fault" and "Burn It Down" too. The rhythmic flow coupled with the enigmatic lyrics make "Sail" connect with a lot of music-lovers who know alternative rock. The message in this song could be one of simply moving on to find a more harmonious space in life for yourself. It works. Listen to the song again and see. Hey, these guys were in Tulsa OK just a few months ago and blew my mind away with their rockin' talent.
  • Zackery from Evadale, TxThis song ain't that good but they do no how to rock if you know what I'm talkin' bout.
  • Camille from Toronto, Oh"Sail" can take on different meanings. It can mean to just simply move on from a problem without the need to resolve it. It could mean "F*** it", or in other words, 'screw you'. The word 'sail' is more earthly than heavenly, so I don't associate it with suicide. Actually, 'Sail' sounds more like a non-confrontational, non-angry way to get away from that which is troubling, the idea being that a change of scenery (by sailing) will allow one to see things in a different light, from a different perspective. My college aged son says lots of kids at school sing this at random times. In other words: "Stay Calm and...Sail!"
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnI love AWOLNATION's "Sail" everytime it's on radio. It's message is strange indeed, but I love the melody. So much talent is in this band. Their live performances are absolutely fantastic. And their song, "Kill Your Heroes" has made me a 100% FAN of AWOLNATION. These boys know rock!
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