Song of the Day 10/24

Posted: October 24, 2011 in J.C. Personal
Tags: ,

It’s Monday and it usually takes me a couple of hours to become acclimated to a Monday. Monday is the fresh beginning of a new week, full of possibilities. Monday is also the end of the weekend and for most, the start of the work week. Today’s song has a similar duality. From the always theatrical Chicago progressive rock band, Styx comes their 1977 release “Come Sail Away”.

From the band’s seventh album The Grand Illusion, “Come Sail Away” reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The Grand Illusion was certified platinum the following year and went on to achieve triple platinum status. The album includes the singles “The Grand Illusion”, “Fooling Yourself” (if you want to know what that one’s about, ask me in person), and “Miss America”.

The Grand Illusion marked one of many changes in the band’s direction because of singer Dennis DeYoung’s movement toward musical theater and Tommy Shaw and James Young’s desire to play more guitar heavy rock. This tension resulted in DeYoung being fired from the band on multiple occasions.

Styx released a few concept albums, most notably Killroy Was Here, a rock opera released in 1983, set in a future where rock music is illegal. DeYoung plays the part of Killroy, an imprisoned rock star. Tommy Shaw plays Jonathan Change, a rocker fighting for Killroy’s freedom. For people who have never heard the album, this explains the line at the end of Styx’s hit “Mister Roboto” where DeYoung exclaims the secret he’s dying to tell, “I’m Killroy”.

“Come Sail Away” begins with a ballad feel about setting your own course and freeing yourself from the things that hold you back. At the end of this section, DeYoung talks about how, even though they live happily ever after, they missed something, “our pot of gold”. I believe this is reflection on the path that he’s chosen. Then the song gets a little strange. “A gathering of angels” appears above his head and fills him with hope, but he learns that they are not angels as they invite him aboard their starship… strange lyrics aside, the angels or aliens are a metaphor for chasing your dreams no matter how strange it might look to someone else. DeYoung has said that the song was a way to help him deal with depression.

I have to mention that there are a few covers of this song. Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, a punk cover act, released a cover in 2004. Trey Parker as Eric Cartman released a cover in 1998 and there is a legend of a video of an incredibly inebriated Katie and J.C. Fralick singing a portion of the song into a camera while at a dueling piano bar in Walt Disney World (I’m sure it would surface if I ever ran for public office).

I have found that there is often not a lot of middle ground with regard to Styx. Most people either love them or hate them. I think they were a great band whose many directions helped broaden their audience and possibly held them back from superstardom in any one area. It was certainly responsible for their many break-ups.

I always find that I can escape into “Come Sail Away” to help a Monday pass. What’s your favorite escape song?

See ya on the “b” side

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