The Balm of Yacht Rock

Happy New Year!

Let the countdown to summer begin, the season that is the heart and soul of Second Serve. Around here, you have three months of cold and slush and then one more month of “no not yet” (April never delivers in Rhode Island). We at Second Serve get through it by listening to Yacht Rock, the glue that binds this organization.

What’s Yacht Rock? Do me this one thing. In 2005, there was a failed pilot called Yacht Rock on Channel 101, which still exists on YouTube. It’s a mockumentary that sort of coined the term “Yacht Rock,” and you will get the best introduction there. Watch it now. I think it’s funny, but it’s pretty clear why it didn’t make it as a TV show.

If you would rather read on, I will try to explain it. Yacht Rock is the music of the early seventies that sounds like cheesy adult contemporary music but, because you heard it first when you were a kid, it’s better than that. It is better than that. For example, “What A Fool Believes” (The Doobie Brothers), “Sailing” (Christopher Cross), “Just the Two of Us” (Grover Washington Jr.), “This is It” (Kenny Loggins), “Steal Away” (Robbie Dupree), “Cool Change” (Little River Band) or anything Steeling Dan. 

Do you remember the Columbia Record and Tape Club ads? Or K-tel? All these songs would have been on your order, plus 95 more, all for a penny. (I’m limiting our market audience with each keystroke I know, that’s ok).

Yacht Rock playlists can contain more recent songs, like Toto’s “Africa” (recent like 1982!). The more recent additions must include a similar smooth sound. It’s something we could debate if anyone has the inclination. Occasionally we will hear a song on one of the Yacht Rock stations (yes, there are several devoted to the genre now) and decide it should be booted from the playlist. “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? Not Yacht Rock. “Tom Sawyer” by Rush? Absurd. But these songs end up on playlists from time to time. 

There is a Yacht Rock podcast out there, called Beyond Yacht Rock from the same guys who did the Channel 101 pilot, who discuss such things if you are that interested. Many are that interested, believe it or not.

I love Yacht Rock for the same reason I love my wallabees. A nostalgia for the things that were a part of my younger self that were sturdy and that you wore, or listened to, again and again. 
I remember going to my grandparents’ community pool and hearing this music blasted from the speakers. I don’t remember my parents being there; I think they were traveling or probably taking a break from the kids, who knows. I distinctly remember hearing Elton John’s “Island Girl” and “Little Jeannie” again and again, and “You Make me Feel like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, although I didn’t know who these artists were back then. 

I spread out my towel on the grass and sunned myself, and closed my chlorine-bloodshot eyes as I listened to this stuff, without my parents around. It’s silly but I felt like I was living large, that this was freedom. 

And I want you to be my acrobat, I want you to be my lover… 

I still remember my nubby faded red one-piece, thin towel, and no sign of sunscreen anywhere.

This is why I love music. I have a deep connection with classic rock as well (another blog post!) but it is the Yacht Rock that conjures the warmth of the sun and easy living. Like in summer when the sun sets around 8 or 9 o’clock, you watch with feet up, drink in hand, until the sun tucks itself away for a short night, still lighting up the sky.

Living large.

That’s our antidote for the next four months. 

Watch for our features on sundresses, shorts, and tunics throughout the dead of winter. You can browse while you try out some Yacht Rock on the ears. Summer will be here before you know it.


  • Carol Kenney

    Yes, this music was the soundtrack of my college years, spring break at Daytona, summers working/sunning at the Jersey Shore. Good times!

  • Missy

    Spot on… but no Timbers Tennis reference? :-)

  • donald

    Nailed it!

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