If I Had a Boat

If I Had a Boat - Sailing in Art (Part I)

A friend of mine is a particularly excellent musician. And he's very successful and kind of well known - I've lost count of the number of times I've switched on the radio or sat down in a coffee shop only to hear his voice turn up. It's really quite disconcerting, in a nice way.

I don't just say this to show off (although that is the primary reason - reflected glory is the only kind of glory I get), but also because it's true.

On his first album, the very first track is called "If I Had a Boat".

In it James sings

If I had a boat I would sail to you,
Hold you in my arms, ask you to be true

He may be a singer, but James clearly is not a regular sailor. I do have a boat, and I have never sailed to someone, held them in my arms and asked them to be true. It was never part of my plans when buying a Laser.

More than that, though, it shows a complete lack of practicality and realistic hopes. I once finished sailing on a particularly cold winter's day and when I got in my wife, two kids and both my parents-in-law were ashore as I hauled my boat up the slipway. Not only would not one of them hold me in their arms, but they all moved away from me if I went anywhere near them. My wife's exact words were "Do not come anywhere near me until you've had a shower and got changed".

So James knows nothing about owning a boat.

Or doesn't he...

The very next lines in the song are

Once I had a dream, it died long before,
Now I'm pointed North, hoping for the shore.

Now this is much more like it.

How many breezy days have I started off full of hope only to capsize within 2 minutes of heading out, then slogging my way through several races, before finally realising that I have to sail the whole way home in a freshening breeze:

I had a dream, it died, now I'm hoping to get back onto dry land in one piece.

Anyway, apart from the fact that, as far as I know, none of my sailing friends bought their boats to sail in someone's general direction and give them a hug, I think this is my favourite song which has sailing or even boats in it.

Anyone have any other suggestions?


Postscript: James certainly doesn't need me to promote his music - he's sold loads of records already. But if you do get the chance to see him live then I can't recommend it enough. I met him through my best friend at university (he's my best friend's cousin) and I remember his very first gig - it was a real shivers-down-the-spine moment. The guy can really sing.

He has two albums out - Early In The Morning and Post Tropical and they're both excellent. Don't take my word for it, have a look at the reviews yourself.

My personal favourites include This Old Dark Machine, Down the Burning RopesSparrow & the Wolf, Breaking Hearts, Gold and Glacier. And, of course, this wonderful cover version of Higher Love that was used to promote Ireland by the National Tourism guys here.

Although to be fair I could go have listed loads more.

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