Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5 Songbook

Sail away with the Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5 songbook featuring ten ultra-smooth soft rock hits from the 1970s and 80s like "Kiss on my List," "Landslide," "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight," and "Best of My Love." These piano solo arrangements by Jennifer Eklund are appropriate for intermediates and up.

This post is part six of the Yacht Rock Favorites Songbook Series.
Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5 Songbook

🛥️ What is Yacht Rock?

“Yacht Rock” wasn’t a thing when the music it describes was popular between 1975 and 1984. Imagine smooth tunes enjoyed by fancy yacht owners-that’s it. The term was cooked up in 2005 by J. D. Ryznar and his pals in a years-long online video series called “Yacht Rock.” Initially kind of an insult, it playfully referred to yuppie yachties grooving to mellow music at sea, often with lyrics about the ocean. Think Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” (1979). The genre got teased for being cheesy, but that’s less of a thing nowadays.

A music guru named Matt Colier defined yacht rock in 2014 with some cool rules: keep it smooth, catchy, and light even when it gets sad. Journalist Katie Puckrik added that yacht rock takes you on an aspirational escape, like in Cross’s “Ride Like the Wind” (1979).

The origins of the genre are often traced back to the Beach Boys as their vibes were “scavenged” by folks like Rupert Holmes. The 1970s were kind of a separate bubble from politics, and yacht rock captures that personal escape vibe, all boosted by F.M. radio. Popular yacht rockers included Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan, and Toto. So, picture breezy tunes, good times, and the open sea. The most important criteria? It has to be smoooooooooth (oh, and there’s a high probability you’ll hear the velvety vocals of Michael McDonald somewhere in the mix)!

There’s a lot of disagreement about which groups, artists, and songs actually belong to the genre because the definition is quite liquid (all pun intended). For my intents and purposes, I have included songs I’ve heard on the SiriusXM Yacht Rock station (channel 311).

🎶 Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5 Songbook

The following songs are included in the Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5 songbook. These are all available as separate singles, but you get the most value by purchasing the whole collection. All of these arrangements are appropriate for intermediates and up.

  1. Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)
  2. Best of My Love (The Eagles)
  3. I Can Dream About You (Dan Hartman)
  4. I Gotta Try (Michael McDonald)
  5. I’d Really Love to See You Tonight (England Dan & John Ford Coley)
  6. Kiss on my List (Hall & Oates)
  7. Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
  8. The Things We Do for Love (10cc)
  9. What You Won’t Do for Love (Bobby Caldwell)
  10. Whenever I Call You “Friend” (Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks)

🎹 Watch a performance of selections from this volume:

Let’s dive deeper with some more details about a few of my personal favorites from Yacht Rock Favorites: Volume 5!

“What You Won’t Do For Love” (Bobby Caldwell)

A perfect example of the blue-eyed soul genre and a song that is most-definitely solidly “on the boat.”

Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love"" is a song that was released in 1978 as a single his self-titled debut album. The song became one of Caldwell’s most well-known and successful tracks, and it has since become a classic in the soul, R&B, and smooth jazz genres.

The track’s musical arrangement combines elements of R&B, soul, and jazz, creating a unique sound that stands out from many other songs of its era. Caldwell’s smooth and emotive vocal style adds to the song’s charm, making it relatable and appealing to a wide audience.

Upon its release, “What You Won’t Do for Love” received positive reviews from both music critics and audiences alike. The song achieved commercial success, reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming a staple on adult contemporary radio stations. It also enjoyed popularity internationally.

Over the years, “What You Won’t Do for Love” has been covered and sampled by various artists from different genres, demonstrating its enduring influence and appeal. It has been featured in numerous films, T.V. shows, and commercials, further solidifying its status as a timeless classic.

“Kiss On My List” (Hall & Oates)

Some more nifty dance moves and a live performance from 1980 on the Don Lane Show in Australia.

“Kiss on My List” is a song by American duo Hall & Oates. It was written by Daryl Hall and Janna Allen, and produced by Hall and John Oates. It was the third single release from their ninth studio album, Voices (1980), and became their second US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (after “Rich Girl” in 1977). It spent three weeks at the top spot.

The song was written with the intention of Janna Allen, sister of Hall’s longtime girlfriend Sara Allen, singing it, as she was interested in starting a music career. Hall cut a demo version as a guide for her, but later when his manager found the tape lying around the studio, he insisted that Hall and Oates cut the song themselves. In fact, the production team liked the demo so much that they did not do a second take, instead adding background vocals and instrumentation to the demo and mixing them together. Hall recalled that is why the drums sounded so “dinky” - the “drums” in fact being the early Roland CR-78 drum machine mixed in with a live drumming overdub.

Hall calls it an anti-love song, with the song title being tongue-in-cheek sarcasm in that the kiss is not that important, in that it is on a list of other things that are just as important.

“I Can Dream About You” (Dan Hartman)

“I Can Dream About You” is a song by American musician Dan Hartman. Released in 1984, it gained popularity as the main single from the soundtrack of the film “Streets of Fire.” The song is a blend of rock, pop, and new wave elements, featuring a catchy melody and upbeat tempo.

Hartman wrote and produced the song himself, showcasing his musical versatility. “I Can Dream About You” became one of his most successful tracks, reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and receiving substantial airplay on radio and MTV. Its energetic and danceable sound, combined with Hartman’s soulful vocals, contributed to its appeal.

The song’s lyrics convey a sense of longing and desire, with the narrator expressing the idea that even though they can’t have a particular person in reality, they can still dream about them. The track’s inclusion in the “Streets of Fire” soundtrack helped solidify its place in pop culture. Over the years, it has been covered by various artists and featured in TV shows and movies, contributing to its enduring popularity.

“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” (England Dan & John Ford Coley)

Live performance from 1976 on Midnight Special:

“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” is a soft rock song by the American duo England Dan & John Ford Coley. It was released in 1976 as a single from their album “Nights Are Forever.” The song quickly became a hit, reaching the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the Easy Listening chart.

The song is characterized by its mellow and melodic sound, featuring acoustic guitar, smooth harmonies, and a laid-back vocal delivery. The lyrics depict a conversation between two former lovers who discuss meeting up, but not necessarily for a romantic reconciliation. The lines “I’m not talkin’ ‘bout movin’ in / And I don’t want to change your life” capture the essence of the song’s casual and friendly tone.

“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” struck a chord with audiences, becoming one of England Dan & John Ford Coley’s signature songs. Its easygoing charm and relatable theme of reconnecting with an old flame resonated with listeners during the 1970s and beyond. The song’s success contributed to the duo’s popularity and solidified their place in the soft rock genre.

🌊 Ready to set sail with more great Yacht Rock?

👋 Did I miss one of your favorites? I’m always open to requests so drop me a comment!

Jennifer Eklund
Written by Jennifer Eklund
Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks. She is also a Signature Artist with Musicnotes.com with a large catalog of popular music titles for musicians of all levels.


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