A Bit of a Classic: Enya – Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) (1988)

enya orinoco flow

In A Bit of a Classic, A Bit of Pop Music takes you back in time to relive a pop release we definitely should not forget about. On the 15th October of 1988, only one day after Robin Beck’s ‘First Time’, Enya released the single that would properly kick off her career: ‘Orinoco Flow’. Let’s sail all the way back to 1988 to find out more about this iconic track!

‘Orinoco Flow’ was released as the lead single of Enya’s second album Watermark, which sold 11 million copies over the years. Her self-titled debut already came out in 1987, but it was not until she gained massive success with ‘Orinoco Flow’ and Watermark and the albums that followed, that the debut started selling more and more too (6 million copies to be precise). She even re-released a remastered version under the name The Celts in 1992. It all speaks volumes for how game changing ‘Orinoco Flow’ was for her career, but not only that!

‘Orinoco Flow’, written by Enya and Nicky Ryan, who also produced the track, became one of the defining Celtic sounding New Age and pop crossover successes. The absolutely enchanting track has this almost meditative quality that is strived for in New Age, but at the same time delivers some instant hooks to appeal to the masses. The title of the track is based on the Orinoco River that runs through Venezuela and Colombia. Interestingly enough, the studio in London where parts of the track were recorded, is called the Orinoco Studio, so it is not hard to guess where that inspiration came from. Other than listing a whole lot of coastal places and islands she wants to sail to, the song text also contains a shout out to Rob Dickins, a close collaborator who did Enya’s art direction as well as working in the studio with her. “We can steer, we can near, with Rob Dickins on the wheel”, Enya sings towards the end of the tune.

It is safe to say that ‘Orinico Flow’, 30 years later, has reached iconic status. The track is still constantly played and referred to in popular culture and it will be hard to find a person that has never heard that ‘Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away’ chorus before! As for Enya’s career, she is still going strong. Her most recent album, Dark Sky Island with lead single ‘Echoes In Rain’, came out in 2015 and sold around a million copies!

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