Music Friday Tribute: Legendary Ben E. King Dreams of a Solid Gold Ship With Golden Sails in ‘On the Horizon’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you memorable songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s featured song, “On the Horizon,” is a tribute to the legendary and unforgettable Ben E. King, who passed away last week at the age of 76.

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In this 1961 ballad written by King in collaboration with the prolific team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the soulful baritone sings about being at the shore and spotting a solid gold ship gleaming in the distance…

King croons, “On the horizon out where the ocean greets the sky / On the horizon I saw a ship go sailing by / This was the ship that I’d often dreamed of / A ship made of gold with a golden sail above / This was the ship that I dreamed would someday bring my love.”

The gold ship with golden sail symbolizes something glorious for King — his ship of dreams. Later in the song, it’s revealed that although the ship was a vision, his lover was not. He sings, “It kept comin’ closer and closer I swear / Closer and closer ’til I woke up and found you there.”

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King is best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me,” a song that was a top-10 hit when it was released in 1961, and again 1986 when it was used as the theme of a blockbuster movie of the same name. “On the Horizon” is best known as the B-side of King’s iconic hit.

Neat trivia: The original writing credits for “Stand by Me” and “On the Horizon” went to Ben E. King and Elmo Glick, a pseudonym used by Leiber and Stoller.

Born Benjamin Earl Nelson in 1938, King adopted his stage name in 1960 after leaving his role as the lead singer of the Drifters and embarking on a solo career. One year later, King was peppering the airwaves with an impressive run of songs, including “Spanish Harlem,” “Stand by Me” and “There Goes My Baby.” “Stand by Me” would go on to be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry of America. And riding on the B-side was “On the Horizon.”

Please check out the majestic “On the Horizon,” a simple and beautiful song interpreted by a unique talent who will be forever remembered as a pioneer of Rock and Roll…

“On the Horizon”
Written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Ben E. King. Performed by Ben E. King.

On the horizon out where the ocean greets the sky
On the horizon I saw a ship go sailing by
This was the ship that I’d often dreamed of
A ship made of gold with a golden sail above
This was the ship that I dreamed would someday bring my love

On the horizon out where the lonely seagulls cry
On the horizon my ship of dreams came sailing by
Sailing to me with this cargo so rare
It kept comin’ closer and closer I swear
Closer and closer ’til I woke up and found you there

Oh, on the horizon, the horizon, the horizon

Credit: Getty Images; YouTube screen capture.

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