Sailing on a Ship of Fools

Styx sang, “Come Sail Away” — which if you think about river from which the band derives its name, is kind of weird — but if you connect prompts to song lyrics, which I do because my brain is full of song lyrics, then that may be the song you’d reference for your daily post. Or maybe you’d jump onto “Sailing” by Christopher Cross…

Not me.

When I saw the Daily Prompt, “Sail,” I immediately was drawn to the Grateful Dead song “Ship of Fools,” probably because it was most recently sung by Dead and Company at the July 1 show at Wrigley Field.


I got on the bus in the 90s, when Jerry wasn’t doing very well, so I didn’t get to know “Ship of Fools” that well; it’s also not in rotation in the shows I have in my collection, either (which I need to fix!).

Anyway, there’s this first verse:

Went to see the captain
strangest I could find
Layed my proposition down
Layed it on the line;
I won’t slave for beggar’s pay
likewise gold and jewels
but I would slave to learn the way
to sink your ship of fools…

And then there’s this:

“Michael Foucault’s Madness and Civilization [tells] that a ship of fools referred to the practice of putting the local ‘insanes’ onto ships to help as crew people; supposedly, ‘regular’ people thought that the fools, shipmen, and the sea all had an affinity for each other. so, when a new ship would port in a town, people would come and have a chuckle at the expense of the kind ‘fools.’ so, the sea was an escape for these well-wishing souls from the cruel sea of humanity on the mainland.”

Maybe today is one of those days where I feel like the sea would be a great escape from the laughing landlubbers.

via Daily Prompt: Sail

Lyrics and Quote regarding Michael Foucault courtesy of The Annotated Ship of Fools


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