O' Sailor

Album: Extraordinary Machine (2005)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about being in mourning, although what it is over, Apple doesn't make clear. Some of the lyrics suggest a death, and some seem to be about a man being unfaithful. It could possibly even be both. The song and video have an eerie "ghost ship" type of effect. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Angela - Sylacauga, AL
  • When Fiona sings:

    O' Sailor, why'd you do it
    What'd you do that for
    Saying there's nothing to it
    And then letting it go by the boards


    "By the boards" is an expression meaning cast aside. It's a sailing term meaning something being thrown overboard as useless - it would go by the boards as it went past the ship.
  • Extraordinary Machine was Apple's third album. It was finally released in 2005, six years after her previous LP, When The Pawn... She started recording the album in 2003 with Pawn producer Jon Brion, but they could only complete two tracks to their satisfaction: the title track and "Waltz (Better Than Fine)," which ended up being the first and last songs on the album. The other nine tracks they worked on stagnated; Mike Elizondo was brought in to take over production, and it still didn't gel. With production at a standstill, Brion's roommate, a producer named Brian Kehew, began surreptitiously recording new versions of the tracks with Fiona without the record company knowing. They were able to complete the unfinished nine tracks, plus another that Fiona brought in called "Parting Gift." (Here's Brian's full story about making the album.)

Comments: 2

  • G from Cleve, AndorraNope, it is about being the other woman.
  • Shane from Anaheim, CaThe music video for this song was filmed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Randy HouserSongwriter Interviews

The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.

Carol KayeSongwriter Interviews

A top session musician, Carol played on hundreds of hits by The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and many others.

SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.

Jimmy JamSongwriter Interviews

The powerhouse producer behind Janet Jackson's hits talks about his Boyz II Men ballads and regrouping The Time.

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The RemastersSong Writing

Brian has unearthed outtakes by Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello and hundreds of other artists for reissues. Here's how he does it.

The FratellisSongwriter Interviews

Jon Fratelli talks about the band's third album, and the five-year break leading up to it.