In this song, David Gray offers a getaway, telling a lady he'd like to sail away with her, putting his heart in her hands. He worked on the song over a number of years, writing and discarding verses along the way. It's what he calls a "Frankenstein song" because it was cobbled together from so many parts assembled at different times.
"Sail Away" was a bit like 'Babylon
' in that I toyed with it and I had to sort of engineer the chord sequence to deliver the end result, and that took some time," Gray told Songfacts
. "I guess I'd become preoccupied with these things, but it was to come up with a sonic solution. A lot of the lyric writing was done, it was now how best to present something that isn't just a cliché or just a lazy way of how would you do this song?
Would you play the snare with brushes? Use a subtle bit of bass? It's like, 'Nah, I'm falling asleep already. How can we do this in a bolder way and really wake people up to what it is?' It was those things that would preoccupy me."