Early County News

The arbiter of all things Yacht Rock

Other Voices



When I was nine years old, I had my first “paying” job in the newspaper business.

I was paid 50 cents to help my parents deliver the Atlanta Constitution on the weekends. Little did I know then that this experience of delivering newspapers very, very early in the morning would teach me perhaps the most important thing in my adult life: What constitutes “ Yacht Rock.”

See, during those days in the late ’70s, our car radio was always tuned in to the station that played the Top 40 hits – songs that now anchor “Yacht Rock.”

To those uninitiated, Yacht Rock is a genre of music, mostly from the late ’70s or early ’80s – typified by artists like Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Fleetwood Mac, the Doobie Brothers and Christopher Cross, among others. It’s the kind of music one would play on a yacht – not too hard or loud, not too sad or slow, smooth music that can play in the background while you’re sipping wine, talking with some guy wearing a captain’s hat, an ascot, and wearing no socks, off the coast of Catalina.

Yacht Rock is closely associated with “adult-oriented rock,” or “AM Gold,” although not all songs considered AOR or AM Gold are Yacht Rock. Nor is it exactly “easy-listening” to elevator music, either.

I bring this up because there seems to be some confusion as to what Yacht Rock is. I went to a Spotify “ Yacht Rock” playlist the other day and was horrified to see some of the songs and artists classified as “ Yacht Rock.”

Let’s clear that up, right here and now. As the self-proclaimed arbiter of All Things Yacht Rock, here is what is and isn’t Yacht Rock.

Not Yacht Rock:
The Pointer Sisters
The Outfield
Rockwell (“Somebody’s
Watching Me”)
John Cougar Mellencamp Huey Lewis & The
Billy Joel
Bad Company
Spandau Ballet
“Caribbean Queen”
Eddie Rabbitt
Men at Work
These were all on the
aforementioned Yacht
Rock playlist, but they aren’t Yacht Rock.
Since you asked, here
are acceptable Yacht Rock
hristopher Cross
Non-soundtrack Kenny
Steely Dan
Walter Egan
Pablo Cruise
Boz Scaggs

Gerry Rafferty
Robbie Dupree
Rupert Holmes

Any song where Michael
McDonald sings backup
Fleetwood Mac
Most Doobie Brothers
England Dan & John
Ford Coley
Hall & Oates (pre-1982)
James Taylor
Climax Blues Band

That’s not the total list, of course. And not every, for instance, Climax Blues Band song, meets the Yacht Rock criteria. On the other hand, the Eagles have a few songs that qualify as certifiable Yacht Rock songs (“I Can’t Tell You Why,” “One of These Nights”), but most of their catalog doesn’t.

So, if you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain… if you’re not much into health food, but are into champagne… browse through this certified Yacht Rock list, and pick out your faves… make the songlist you’ve been looking for, listen easy, and escape.

© Len Robbins 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.