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Story Behind the Song: Joe Downing, “Sail to the Moon”

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Joe Downing is a singer/songwriter living and working in Nashville. While taking a break from the music biz, Joe wrote 9-10 Trop Rock style songs but didn’t really know what to do with them. His songwriting buddy, JD Edge, connected Joe with Mike Nash of the Southern Drawl Band. Mike spent an hour on the phone telling Joe all about the amazing network of Parrot Heads across the nation who loved original beach music.

In 2017, Joe released his first independent single “Overboard” and attended the annual Meeting of the Minds / Trop Rock Music week in Key West. Joe declares this trip “changed his life forever in amazing and wonderful ways.” In 2018, Joe signed with Tuff Duck Music and released his first Trop Rock EP, Non-Stop Summertime.

He was nominated for the Trop Rock Music Association’s Horizon Award and the Trop Rockin’ Magazine People’s Choice Award for Breakthrough Artist. Here is Joe Downing’s Story Behind the Song “Sail to the Moon” which reached #1 on Radio A1A’s Weekly Trop 40:

Joe Downing Sail to the Moon

The very first time I saw the Gulf of Mexico was on the night of a super moon. I had driven down from Nashville to Gulf Shores, AL with my then girlfriend, now wifey, Krystal. We drove all day and got to our condo after sunset, so the moon was just coming up.

I walked in with a few of our bags and dropped them. Out on the porch I looked up in the sky above the massive Gulf stretched out before me, playfully tossing its’ waves on the shore. I looked up. And it was huge. If you took a cantaloupe and held it at arms length toward the night sky, THAT’S HOW BIG THE MOON WAS!

It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It was just hanging there above the Gulf. It was pulling on everything. I could feel it. The rhythm of the waves, the power of that great super moon and the call of a sailor’s ancestral dance with the sea whispering my name. I was home.

“It’s in my veins
and remains
Always in my heart.”

After a week in paradise we headed back to Nashville. I called my buddy Mike Kuhl and asked if he wanted to write a boat song. Writing with Mike Kuhl is great because you tell him a story or say a few words and in an hour he hands you a lyric. For those that don’t know Mike, that was a joke. It usually only takes fifteen minutes.

“Sometimes I wish I could Sail To The Moon
With a Landshark, my baby and a smile
Sometimes I wish I could Sail To The Moon
And leave this world for awhile”

I had some chords, but more importantly, the groove. Trying to come up with the groove, to me, is blending the flow of the lyric and the rhythm of the beat. The groove I wanted to come up with had to feel like you were sailing. The song quickly turned into a first person sailor song. It became more about the sailor than the boat.

“Who knew an Ohio boy
would enjoy the water
like I do”

Mike and I knew we had to come up with a killer bridge to complete the song. That’s when the song takes a bit of a turn toward the spiritual.

“Lookin’ up at the stars
None of them are too far”

This, to me anyways, represents the closeness of God. The stars out on the ocean at night seem so close you can almost touch them. So bright and beautiful that it’s hard to believe they are so far away. This brings the listener or, the sailor, to want to “Thank the Man Upstairs.” And that, as they say, is what it’s all about.

The song has spent time in several studios over the years. It has had folks like John Patti, Daniel Mason Schwartz and JD Edge all lay tracks down on the song. It never truly found its home in the studio until Chuck Freeman of Tuff Duck Music showed interest. With Chuck in the Producer’s chair and Engineer Wes Henley on board, incredible musicians from Muscle Shoals, AL and Jackson, TN, “Sail To The Moon” finally found it’s home.

To have the opportunity to write a song like “Sail To The Moon” and watch it evolve into something that y’all enjoy is definitely an amazing experience and we appreciate all your kind words, support and love. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I hope to see you soon at a House Party, Parrot Head Event or Tiki Joint. Until then….

Blue Skies,

“Yeah I crave
the ocean waves
a constant work of art
It’s in my veins
and remains
Always in my heart.”

Listen to a snippet of “Sail to the Moon”:

Visit Joe Downing’s website to listen or purchase more of his original songs. Look for Joe at several Parrot Head and Trop Rock events in 2019 as well as in Key West during Meeting of the Minds.


  • Tammy Camp

    I love easy recipes and delicious desserts and happy to share with you my favorite recipes. My favorite places are tropical, family always comes first and I'm a cocktail enthusiast for sure! Connect with me: Facebook and Pinterest

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