Wooden Ships Lyrics - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Review The Song (38)
by David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner
Stills: If you smile at me, I will understand
'Cause that is something everybody everywhere does
in the same language.
Crosby: I can see by your coat, my friend,
you're from the other side,
There's just one thing I got to know,
Can you tell me please, who won?
Stills: Say, can I have some of your purple berries?
Crosby: Yes, I've been eating them for six or seven weeks now,
haven't got sick once.
Stills: Probably keep us both alive.
Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy,
Easy, you know the way it's supposed to be,
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be,
Talkin' 'bout very free and easy...
Horror grips us as we watch you die,
All we can do is echo your anguished cries,
Stare as all human feelings die,
We are leaving - you don't need us.
Go, take your sister then, by the hand,
lead her away from this foreign land,
Far away, where we might laugh again,
We are leaving - you don't need us.
And it's a fair wind, blowin' warm,
Out of the south over my shoulder,
Guess I'll set a course and go...
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I Remain Confused | Reviewer: Jay Dubya | 10/20/13
Musically and vocally, the song Wooden Ships ranks among the best performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The lyrics, though thought- provoking to some, have always been confusing and ambiguous to me. I would love to hear the music and vocals of this song attached to another subject matter entirely with more succinct lyrics. Plainly said, IMHO the lyrics were weak.
Hi Sixties Survivor | Reviewer: Geoffrey Marsh | 10/12/13
The movie is "On The Beach", based on a novel of the same name by Nevil Shute. Check out IMDb for more details. It was released in 1959 and was an influential commentary on nuclear conflict at the height of the cold war, well worth a viewing if you're interested in the subject. I don't make a particular connection with this film and Wooden Ships, though. For me this song is a post-apocalyptic scenario for all wars written from the peace and love perspective of the time. It's pure Sandoz. Thank you JA and Crosby/Stills/Kantner.
People are wooden ships | Reviewer: Dan | 8/25/13
My take on this song has always been, and it's one of my all time favorites, too; is that it is we as people, are wooden ships. Floating carefree in the sea of life. Wooden in that we are delicate creatures, and floating in the water, giving each other plenty of space. Asking who won symbolizes how nobody wins in war. Horror grips us as we watch you die means we are helpless against death, and that we should enjoy life while we can. Purple berries is Acid, (Micro Dot, little tiny purple LSD pills, Jimmy called it Purple Haze) all we need to survive... This song is best listened to while stoned. Kantner and "the Plane," with Gracie on vocals, totally rocks on this song.
Whoa ! Written by Crosby, Stills & Kantner !! | Reviewer: Merlin | 6/3/13
I always remembered this tune as belonging to Jefferson Airplane - of whom Paul Kantner was a member, and sung by Grace Slick. It was on the Volunteers of America album. I had the original vinyl - - once - -
What stills said the song is about | Reviewer: Matt | 6/1/13
I heard an interview on NPR with the band members and they said specifically that this song is about a scene is a post nuclear war, where one person or soldier sees another from the other country, and since the bombs blew everything up, nobody knows who won, and its pointless anyway. The purple berries are not poisoned by radiation, or they don't know, which explains the line about how he's been eating them for weeks and not getting sick from them. The silver people on the shore line are wearing radiation suites, and they are pulling bodies from the water. The wooden ships are there to take the people away from the blast area, and they are wooden because the metal is all radioactive.
Yes, civil and any/all wars. | Reviewer: deboe | 5/9/13
Also, the song is of the timeless tragedy of all wars and of watching a fellow combatant die in front of you and surviving and trying to live life. Like the beeping at the end......any thing else you see/imagine/hear, is also there. I guarantee it. If a movie plays in your mind that will be it. That is what the 60's, 70's were about now, isn't it? PAX.
CIVIL WAR | Reviewer: deboe | 5/9/13
I know I read or heard it is the civil war and wonder if it is over. They encounter a young victim of the war, bleeding, dyeing, in his own unquessing horror and they need to leave him for dead as "you don't need us" which echoes the death of war. The wooden ships are the ships of the civil war era of course. And, what you all said too!.
At the end of the song, there is a kind of morse code | Reviewer: Sixties Survivor | 3/30/13
The morse code "beeping" at the end of the song remind me of a movie that was out in the early sixties about a nuclear holocaust. I think the code signified that the message was being sent out electronically. No was was sending the message, nor was anyone receiving the message. Only a few people were left after a nuclear holocaust. I think they were on some deserted island or some remote place that had escaped the destruction. The last scene is of a beach. Does anyone else remember this movie?
one of the greatest songs of the 60s? | Reviewer: AlO | 8/31/12
I still love the melody, harmonies and lyrics - it always made me think that soldiers are ordered to kill each other for no real personal reasons - they are all pawns of opposing governments.
The song itself brings some sadness to me though, because it reminds of the '60s and '70s, when I was obviously younger and more free spirited.
Layers of music layers of meaning | Reviewer: oaktreeforest51 | 6/1/12
I'm aware of what Croz said the song is about ... but ... if your like me and your mind slides over the Horror verses and the Silver people reference this can have a lot of other meanings ... very rich freedom loving, tribal, Callenbach-ecotopian, alternative to the mechanistic life and for a natural one. Not to mention the feel of that sound, truly a classic bit of music.
Ben is right | Reviewer: Usul | 5/14/12
Reviewer: ben | 7/13/09, I think got it right. The song is about giving up on the American Government and their war mongering. But I thought the line was "Silver Eagle on the shoreline, let us be." There aren't any Silver People.
We don't smile in the same language. | Reviewer: Ed | 4/30/12
As much as I love this song, I have to comment, we don't smile the same, in the same language. Asians -particularly Japanese - see the "eyes locked on, wide toothy American grin" as an aggressive threat, not a friendly gesture. When I first came to America fifty years ago, I was five, and frightened by all these big, unfriendly, threatening Americans. Today, I know that many of those folks that scared me back then,were trying to be friendly. But it took me many years to grasp that, on more than an intellectual level.
But I see this as a post-apocalyptic song...survivors picking up the pieces after the rubble is cooled. There were still ruins and damage in Japan, when I left in 1962 to come to America.
Cube1 | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/28/11
The apocolypse and the trappings of society are one in the same in this song. On the surface the "Silver People" do represent radiation suits but there is also a nod to the replacement of cultural enlightenment with cosumerism (they chose Silver as opposed to Tin). "Horror grips us as we watch you die" is much more than observing the aftermath of a nuclear war, it is also an observation on the void and split in country during the late '60s.
interesting comments! | Reviewer: SacDuck | 6/30/11
Hey I still have the LP and remember listening to it several times and just looked it up to see Jay pretty much nailed it. But I find it crazy insane that all of us are here using this incredible tool yet look at folks that used their imaginations instead of google!
sweet harmony | Reviewer: william | 3/20/11
being a Veitnam Vet. I don't have any special feelings for the lyrics, I do like the harmonies and the melody, Great strokes and layering- that's the hook with all thier stuff,too bad they couldn't hold it together longer.
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