Orinoco Flow
"Orinoco Flow" is a 1988 single written and recorded by Enya
Enya is an Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Enya is an approximate transliteration of how Eithne is pronounced in the Donegal dialect of the Irish language, her native tongue.She began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad before leaving to...

. It also featured on her second studio album, Watermark.


Released as the lead single off her second studio album Watermark in October 1988, the song became Enya's breakthrough hit, becoming a massive success worldwide, peaking at #1 in several countries including the UK, where it stayed at the top of the charts for three weeks. Its altered use of the Roland D-50
Roland D-50
The Roland D-50 is a polyphonic 61-key synthesizer produced by Roland. It was released in 1987. Its features include Linear Arithmetic synthesis, on-board effects, a joystick for data manipulation, and an analog synthesis-styled layout design. The external Roland PG-1000 Programmer could also be...

A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

's Pizzagogo is highly recognizable, along with the rapid arpeggiated harp.

The song is often incorrectly referred to as "Sail Away", a phrase repeated during the chorus
A refrain is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse; the "chorus" of a song...

. The American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 version of the single, however, was retitled "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)". It then peaked at #24 in early 1989.

The song was highly popular in the early 1990s and was featured on many pop music compilations. It shares part of its name with Orinoco Studios
Miloco Studios
Miloco Studios are a leading independent group of recording studios based in London, England. There are currently twelve commercial recording studios underneath the Miloco umbrella, plus a selection of private long-let programming rooms...

 (now Miloco Studios), where it was recorded. Sometimes, it was misunderstood that the song is named after one of the longest rivers of South America, Orinoco
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...


At the end of the song she pays tribute to Warner Brothers Music UK CEO Rob Dickins and makes a more veiled reference to producer Ross Cullum.

In 1998 a special edition 10th anniversary remix
A remix is an alternative version of a recorded song, made from an original version. This term is also used for any alterations of media other than song ....

 single was released.

Locations referenced in lyrics (in order of mention)

  • Orinoco
    The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...

     River, Venezuela; also the original name of the London studio where the song was recorded
  • Tripoli
    Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

    , Libya (There are other Tripolis- in Lebanon and Greece, for instance. But the reference to "the shores of Tripoli" seems to indicate that the Libyan one is intended.)
  • Yellow Sea
    Yellow Sea
    The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

    , Between Korea and China
  • Bissau
    Bissau is the capital city of Guinea-Bissau. The city's borders are conterminous with the Bissau Autonomous Sector. In 2007, the city had an estimated population of 407,424 according to the Instituto Nacional de Estatística e Censos...

    , Guinea-Bissau
  • Palau
    Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

    , islands in Micronesia or Palau, Sardinia in Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

  • Avalon
    Avalon is a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. It first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 1136 pseudohistorical account Historia Regum Britanniae as the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and later where Arthur was...

    , British Isles
  • Fiji
    Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

    , Fiji islands
  • Tiree
    -History:Tiree is known for the 1st century BC Dùn Mòr broch, for the prehistoric carved Ringing Stone and for the birds of the Ceann a' Mhara headland....

    , Scotland
  • Isles of Ebony
    Ebony, Kent
    Ebony is a hamlet south of Ashford in Kent, South East England, in the parish of Stone-cum-Ebony, on the Isle of Oxney.-Notable residents :*Norman Forbes-Robertson, distinguished Victorian Shakespearean actor...

    , England
  • Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Cebu
    Cebu Island
    Cebu is an island of the Philippines. It is the main island of Cebu Province at the center of the Visayan Islands, south of Manila.It lies to the east of Negros Island; to the east is Leyte and to the southeast is Bohol Island. It is flanked on both sides by the Cebu Strait and Tañon Strait...

    , Philippines
  • Babylon
    Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

    , Iraq
  • Bali
    Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

    , Indonesia
  • Cali
    Calì, also written in English as Cali, is an Italian surname, widespread mainly in the Ionian side of Sicily.For the surname Calì is assumed the origin of the Greek word kalos , or from its Sanskrit root kali, "time."The surname refers to:...

    , Colombia
  • Coral Sea
    Coral Sea
    The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands...

    , Australia
  • Ebudae (Inner Hebrides), Scotland; also the title of a later Enya song
  • Khartoum
    Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

    , Sudan
  • The Sea of Clouds, possibly Mount Huangshan, China
  • Island of the Moon (Comoros
    The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

    ); also an island on Lake Titicaca
    Isla de la Luna
    Isla de la Luna is an island in La Paz Department, Bolivia. It is situated in Lake Titicaca, east of Isla del Sol . Legends in Inca mythology refer to the island as the location where Viracocha commanded the rising of the moon. Archeological ruins of an Inca nunnery were found on the eastern shore....

    , Peru & Bolivia; or Isle Maree
    Isle Maree
    Isle Maree is an island in Loch Maree, Scotland.It has the remains of a chapel, graveyard, holy well, and holy tree on it, believed to be the 8th century hermitage of Saint Maol Rubha , who founded the monastery of Applecross in 672. The same island also contains ancient stands of oak and holly...

  • Ross Dependency
    Ross Dependency
    The Ross Dependency is a region of Antarctica defined by a sector originating at the South Pole, passing along longitudes 160° east to 150° west, and terminating at latitude 60° south...

    , a part of Antarctica; also Ross
    Ross is a region of Scotland and a former mormaerdom, earldom, sheriffdom and county. The name Ross allegedly derives from a Gaelic word meaning a headland - perhaps a reference to the Black Isle. The Norse word for Orkney - Hrossay meaning horse island - is another possible origin. The area...

     (region of Scotland)

Track listings

7" single
  1. "Orinoco Flow" (Edit) — 3
  • "Out of the Blue" — 3:10

    3" CD single/12" single
    1. "Orinoco Flow" — 4
  • "Smaoitím..." (d'Aodh agus do Mháire Uí Dhúgain) — 6:09
  • "Out of the Blue" — 3:08

    1. "Orinoco Flow"
    2. "Hope Has a Place"
    3. "Pax Deorum"

    Cover versions

    • Celtic Woman
      Celtic Woman
      Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble conceived and assembled by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance...

       - Celtic Woman
      Celtic Woman (album)
      Celtic Woman is the eponymous debut album of the singing group Celtic Woman. The members of the group were first featured on the PBS musical special also by the same name. With the help of said special, Celtic Woman reached #1 on the World Music charts within weeks and remained there for a record...

    • Libera
      Libera (music)
      Libera is a non-profit all-boy English vocal group directed by Robert Prizeman. Most members come from the parish choir of St. Philip's, Norbury, in South London. The albums, tours and TV appearances they do as Libera are in addition to their regular singing as part of the full choir of men and...

       - New Dawn
      New Dawn (album)
      New Dawn is a studio album by London-based Libera, released in March 2008 via record label EMI Classics. The album features two renditions of popular songs, Enya's Orinoco Flow and The Beach Boys's Love and Mercy...

    • Sarah McCaldwin on her album: Destiny.


    Country Certification Date Sales certified
    UK Silver 1 November 1988 200,000


    Chart (1988–1989) Peak
    Australian ARIA Singles Chart 6
    Austrian Singles Chart 8
    Dutch Singles Chart 1
    European Hot 100 1
    French SNEP Singles Chart 16
    German Singles Chart 2
    Italian Singles Chart 23
    Irish Singles Chart 1
    Norwegian Singles Chart 5
    Swedish Singles Chart 2
    Swiss Singles Chart 1
    UK Singles Chart 1
    U.S. Billboard Hot 100 24
    U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 7
    U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 6

    End of year chart (1989) Position
    Australian Singles Chart 43
    Swiss Singles Chart 19
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