Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Sounds - Sailing to Philadelphia

Today's offering: Mark Knopfler and James Taylor, "Sailing to Philadelphia" from "Sailing to Philadelphia."

I can't tell you all the ways this song moves me...two amazing singers...soul-stirring instrumentation...and oh, those the lyrics...the story...the way my heart and soul and gut can feel the dreams, the fear, the excitement...yeah, it's just a killer song. Knopfler says he "respectfully distilled" a Thomas Pinchon novel about Mason and Dixon into this two minutes of musical bliss. All I can say to that is, yes!

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Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler

I am Jeremiah Dixon
I am a Geordie boy
A glass of wine with you, sir
And the ladies I'll enjoy
All Durham and Northumberland
Is measured up by my own hand
It was my fate from birth
To make my mark upon the earth...

He calls me Charlie Mason
A stargazer am I

It seems that I was born
To chart the evening sky
They'd cut me out for baking bread
But I had other dreams instead
This baker's boy from the west country
Would join the Royal Society...

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon line

Now you're a good surveyor, Dixon
But I swear you make me mad
The west will kill us both
You gullible Geordie lad
You talk of liberty
How can America be free
A Geordie and a bakers boy
In the forests of the Iroquois...

Now hold your head up, Mason
See America lies there
The morning tide has raised
The capes of Delaware
Come up and feel the sun
A new morning has begun
Another day will make it clear
Why your stars should guide us here...

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon line


  1. I finally got around to listening to this song. I'd never heard of Mark Knopfler, but of course James Taylor is one of the greats.

    All I can say is...the song ended a minute ago and I still have tears in my ears. I don't know why. The way it ends....a haunting beauty. A deep sadness, a longing, a human vulnerability. It breaks me up. Very beautiful song.

  2. Isn't it? I think it's the combination of fear, hope, and friendship that move me so deeply. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Knopfler is best known for his work with Dire Straits. An unparalleled guitarist, he's proven himself to be a sensitive poet, as well. Well, in my opinion, anyway. :)

    Thanks for singing along, MoonWolf.


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