Sweety and I have seen Rod Stewart in concert in Winnipeg, Canada, three times, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing him each time.
We saw him once with my mum, and twice with dear friends — once in the tenth row at what’s now called Bell MTS Place. This was a couple I have talked about before, particularly in this post on Cyndi Lauper’s “I’m Gonna Be Strong” and Stewart, Lauper and Sarah Brightman were all artists we listened to together, a lot. We would often watch the 2004 DVD, One Night Only! Rod Stewart Live at the Royal Albert Hall and I remember our late friend, his wife and us singing along with delight at the duet of “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” that Stewart did with Amy Belle, whom he had recently discovered when she was a busker.
Not long after my mum moved back to Winnipeg after my dad died, she was at our home for a big family Christmas dinner, and we had a lovely evening together. After most of the company had left, she, Sweety and I watched Rod Stewart videos and danced to some of the songs. She even stayed the night in our “blue room,” the main guest room. The evening is a treasured memory.
Years later, when visiting my cousins and their families in Liverpool, Birkenhead and Wales, Stewart somehow came up in conversation. We discovered we all loved the song “Sailing” and had poignant memories of it. For me, it was the Christmas evening with mum; for them, it was the nautical aspect of the song as their now late dad spent all his working life in the Merchant Navy.
Gavin Sutherland (of the Sutherland Brothers), who wrote the song in 1972, commented: “Most people take the song to be about a young guy telling his girl that he’s crossing the Atlantic to be with her. In fact, the song’s got nothing to do with romance or ships; it’s an account of mankind’s spiritual odyssey through life on his way to freedom and fulfillment with the Supreme Being.”
I always thought the song was about those left behind after a death, yearning to be near that person again. That has undoubtedly added to the poignancy of it as memory.
“I am flying
I am flying
Like a bird
‘Cross the sky
I am flying
Passing high clouds
To be with you
To be free
Can you hear me, can you hear me
Through the dark night, far away
I am dying, forever crying
To be with you, who can say”
(from “Sailing,” by Gavin Sutherland)
I’d been thinking about sharing this song for a while, after having a long conversation and several comments on my blog from my eldest cousin a while back. Today as Sweety and I learned of the sudden though eventually expected death of a dear friend’s mother, it seemed like the day to post it.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here.
Stewart recorded the song in 1975, and it was a hit for him. Here’s a video of him, his band along with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a solo choir, playing the song as the closing piece for the One Night Only! show, from his official YouTube channel: