in Music

Yacht rock

Often during the summer, I find myself drawn to Yacht Rock. This is the smooth, breezy music of folks like Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, and Kenny Loggins. It’s the kind of stuff my parents used to listen to on AM radio during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

But the term “yacht rock” — which, admittedly, is still relatively obscure — was never used to describe this music. It’s the silly invention of a guy named J.D. Ryznar (and his friends).

On 26 June 2005, Ryznar and company debuted the first episode of their Yacht Rock web series.

Funny, funny, low-production-value stuff that’s often deliberately bad and deliberately offensive. But it hooked me and many others. Plus, it led me to embrace this musical style that I used to hate! That first episode was followed by eleven more over the next few years.

And, as time went on, the Yacht Rock web series caught on with bigger and bigger names. Like Drew Carey.

And here we are at the end of 2020. What started as a joke project to make fun of a particularly dated style of music has actually helped to popularize that music! Reportedly, Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates) has credited this video series with reviving his band’s career. Crazy.

Ryznar and friends have parlayed their yacht rock joke into a 15+ years of “work”. They have (or had) podcast, a blog, and an Instagram account. They even came up with a rating system to determine which songs qualify as yacht rock — and which do not.

As for me, on occasion I find myself in the mood to listen to yacht rock. And my favorite song of the genre? It’s gotta be “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty. So smooth. So cool. So awesome. According to the “Yachtski Scale”, “Baker Street” doesn’t actually qualify as yacht rock. I disagree. Regardless, it’s a great song — one of my favorites from the 1970s.

True story: I love to listen to “Baker Street” on repeat at full volume. And, also true story, I believe it sounds twice as good on vinyl.

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  1. For years, there has been an immensely popular cover band in Atlanta called Yacht Rock Review. You can see their really excellent sold out shows and videos on YouTube. These musicians are rock stars and they are laughing all the way to the bank!