Sail On

Album: Midnight Magic (1979)
Charted: 8 4
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Songfacts®:

  • With the Commodores, Lionel Richie wrote some very sweet-sounding songs that tell very sad stories - "Easy" and "Still" for example. "Sail On" is another. It's a moving song about a man realizes his marriage is never going to work, and he's tired of trying. He has decided to end it as painlessly as possible and re-claim his life.

    These songs weren't personal. Richie was married at the time and didn't get divorced until 1993.
  • The Commodores were at the peak of their powers around this time, with a run of hits that included their international smash "Three Times A Lady." "Sail On" was the lead single from their Midnight Magic album, a million-seller. It was a solid hit, but the next single, "Still" went to #1.

    The group kept the momentum going in the '80s but fell off when Lionel Richie left the group in 1982. Richie was a primary vocalist in the group, but it was his songwriting they couldn't replace. He went on to have an even more successful solo career.

Comments: 12

  • Escotto from NcI would love to find the ending of Sail On that includes the bongos at the end. Every version I find cuts it off too soon.
  • Paul from UsJohn from Bridgeview: what on earth are you talking about? Are trying to get me riled up? You cra-cra. Lionel Richie wrote this.
  • Paul from UsHey Dug from Winnipeg, I don't know if that is accurate about this song but "Still" was definitely written about the direction of the marriage of his friend, William "Smitty" Smith. Either way, this is an amazing song.
  • Sandy from FlThis song helped me break away from my first husband. When I heard it, I felt encouraged that there would be life after divorce. And guess what. There was.
  • Denise from Pembroke Pines, FlI love how this song begins so simply with the piano and vocal, and winds up soaring at the end with the strings and horns, transcending the lyrics "I'm looking for a good time.." I find it one of the most beautiful songs because of that ending, that does end way too soon in the regular, non-extended version.
  • Sandy from Enterprise, FlWhen I hear this song, my mind flies back to the 1970s and my divorce from my first husband. The lyrics are poetic, and so evocative of a failed marriage.
  • Dug from Winnipeg, MbThis song was infact, composed by Lionel Richie after meeting with a childhood friend in Tuskegee, Alabama - where he grew up. His friend had just broken up with his wife, and the two sat up through the night discussing his situation. A few weeks later, Lionel sent him the lyrics to "Sail On" indicating that he wrote this with him in mind. By the way, Lionel's boyhood nickname is "Skeet."
  • John from Bridgeview, IlThis song was written by the members of Bad Company. I found that very interesting.
  • Jibri from Muskegon, MiHey Jeff, I found the long complete version of the end jam on the song. And, it does play out good!
  • Paul from Ansterdam, NetherlandsI think to recognise the voice of Willie Nelson in this song but can't find any references whether he did sing in this song. Does anyone know?
  • Jeff from Casa Grande, Aztook the words right out of my mouth, bro. Women!!!! Damn, they are impossible. Make you feel so good, then, make you feel so low. What's going on with that? Women?! Always baffled and hurt. This is a great song. I especially love the ending music. That's a jam that needs to live one. Unfortunately, it ends to quickly.
  • Fulu from Limpopo, South Africai think that is how women are, no matter how hard you may try to please her. she'll always ignore you and never show appreciation of whatever you do. richie!, you are better off alone.
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