Orinoco flow (Sail away) (Enya) (Ireland)

Magical, exotic, unreal, inspiring, this song became Enya's breakthrough hit, becoming a massive success worldwide, peaking at #1 in several countries including the UK, where it stayed at the top of the charts for 3 weeks. It was released as the lead single off her second studio album "Watermark" in October 1988. With this album, Enya became the best-selling female singer in the world.

What is Enya's secret? To produce that silky voice effect she recorded her voice again and again creating many layers for every line. Some lines were sung even 90 times and then all mixed together in one single voice.

The song is often incorrectly referred to as "Sail Away", a phrase repeated during the chorus. The American version of the single, however, was retitled "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)".  The division of syllables to follow the pattern of music may trick the listener into thinking that the song is written in Latin (as some Enya tracks are), but the lyrics are in fact English.

Let me sail, let me sail: let the Orinoco Flow.
Let me reach, let me beach on the shores of Tripoli
Let me sail, let me sail: let me crash upon your shore
Let me reach, let me beach far beyond the Yellow Sea

Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh, Deh duh duh

Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away

From Bissau, to Palau in the shade of Avalon
From Fiji, to Tiree and the isles of Ebony
From Peru, to Cebu: feel the power of Babylon
From Bali, to Cali: far beneath the Coral Sea

Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh
Deh duh duh, Deh duh duh

Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up
Up adieu... ooh
Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up
Up adieu... ooh
Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up
Up adieu... aaah

Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away

From the North to the South: Ebudae unto Khartoum
From the deep Sea of Clouds: to the Island of the Moon
Carry me on the waves to the land I've never been
Carry me on the waves to the lands I've never seen

We can sail, we can sail: with the Orinoco Flow
We can sail, we can sail
(Sail away, sail away, sail away)
We can steer, we can near with Rob Dickins at the wheel
We can sigh, say goodbye
Ross and his dependencies
We can sail, we can sail
Sail away, sail away, sail away
We can sail, we can sail
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away
Ahhh aahhh ah
Ahhh aahhh ah
Ahhh

SAIL= Travel by ship.

ORINOCO= A tributary river to the Amazon flowing across Venezuela's rain forest.

FLOW= When a liquid (a river in this case) moves, we say that it flows.

REACH= Get to a place.

BEACH= Get to the beach. A beach is an area of sand between the sea and the land.

SHORES= Beach.

TRIPOLI= An ancient city in the Mediterranean sea, founded by the Phoenicians. Today it is the capital of Libya.

CRASH= Collide, bump into.

UPON= (old fashioned) On.

BEYOND= Further than. FAR BEYOND = much further than.

THE YELLOW SEA= A sea between China and Korea.

SAIL AWAY= Go away on a ship.

BISSAU= The capital city of Guinea-Bissau. It's on the African coast.

PALAU=  An island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines.

SHADE= A darker area where the sun rays are blocked by an object (trees in this case).

AVALON= A legendary island, like a paradise, appearing in the legend of King Arthur.

FIJI= A paradisiacal group of islands in the Pacific Ocean.

TIREE= A Celtic island off the coast of Scotland.

ISLES= /aɪlz/ Islands.

THE ISLES OF EBONY= Ebony is a very hard expensive black wood produced in the jungles of Africa and southern India. The Isles of Ebony is an invention, they don't exist, but they sound nice and exotic.

CEBU= An island in the Philippines.

BABYLON= A city state of ancient Mesopotamia from about 5000 years ago, in modern Iraq. It was the capital of the Babylonian empire. A city of richness and luxury.

BALI= An Indonesian island.

CALI= A city in Colombia, near the sea but sited inland. This is the only location which is not by the sea (since this is a journey by ship), and she used it probably because it rhymes with Bali, and she hopes most people won't know exactly where it is.

BENEATH= /bəni:ð/ below.

THE CORAL SEA= A region of the north-east coast of Australia with a chain of islands of the same name. Yea, Cali is not "below the Coral Sea", but how many people knew that?

TURN IT UP= To accelerate, to go faster, to increase the speed.

ADIEU= /ədju:/ (AmE /ədu:/) goodbye. You can also pronounce it imitating the original French word: /ædjɜ:/, which sounds posh or, in this case, more elegant and dreamy.

EBUDAE= A Celtic archipelago (group of islands) off the west coast of Scotland. It is called The Inner Hebrides, but Romans called them Ebudae, and that name sounds more mythical.

KHARTOUM= Capital of Soudan. Placed at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile (the two rivers that originate the Egyptian Nile). Yea, it's not on the coast either, but at least you can sail there by boat along the river.

SEA OF CLOUDS= The English name of the Mare Nubium, an area of the moon. The big craters in the moon are called seas, because in the past they thought they contained water.

ISLAND OF THE MOON= Sailors sometimes called Madagascar "Island of the Moon", and since she just talked about a sea of the moon, this name now is very appropriate. Madagascar is a big island off the eastern coast of south Africa.

STEER= To guide a vehicle (a ship in this case).

WE CAN NEAR= In this sentence NEAR is a verb, so it means "we can get close".

ROB DICKINS= The recording studios head (see Song Meaning).

THE WHEEL= A car moves on 4 wheels (rounded) and it also has a "steering wheel" to drive it. In this case, it is the wheel of the sheep, used to guide it. That wheel is also called HELM (see picture)

SIGH= To exhale audibly in a long deep breath, as in weariness or relief.

DEPENDENCIES= A territory under the jurisdiction of a state of which it does not form an integral part. The Ross Dependency comprises an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand. This line of the song ("Ross and his dependencies") is a little joke, since Ross is the name of the co-producer of this song.

This song is a fantasy trip in exotic faraway lands, evoking real locations and also legendary ones, which helps destroy the border between reality and fantasy, turning the whole thing into a dreamy state of mind.

The Orinoco is a tributary of the Amazon river, and flows across Venezuela's rain forest. Roma, the lyricist for Enya, chose this river because they were recording this album in the Orinoco Studios in London.

There are two more references to the studios in the song, near the end.  This song is also a metaphor of the adventure of creating a new music hit, and that adventure is a trip on a boat whose captain is Rob Dickins, the head of Warner Brothers studios in UK at the moment ("We can steer, we can near, with Rob Dickens at the wheel").  Ross Cullum was the album's engineer and co-producer. "The Ross Dependencies" that appear in the lyrics is a geographic reference, only one of many in the song, but it seems likely that Roma, again, simply couldn't resist making a little joke based on Ross's name.

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