“S.O.S.” by Saxon
S.O.S. is in fact an acronym, but what it spells out exactly is sort of a matter of debate. But whether you personally translate it as “save our souls” or “save our ship”, which are the most common interpretations of the term, they both point to the same fundamental idea, i.e. said acronym being a distress signal.
And as implied by that second translation, which is quoted in this song, it is one that traces its origins back to maritime usage. And even though, as implied to above, it has become generally used amongst the masses to indicate a need for help, in this particular track Saxon does in fact utilize S.O.S. as originally intended and more specifically to allude to the 1912 Titanic disaster.
As we have pointed out in our analysis of some other songs that are also either based on or reference that event, such as Bob Dylan’s “Tempest”, the story of the Titanic will never grow old. This is not only because some 1,500 people died in the disaster but also at the time of its wreckage, the vessel was presented as “the flagship of the gilded age”.
Simply put The Titanic was a marvel of modern technology, which was also advertised as being “unsinkable”. So when it did the exact opposite and did indeed sink, costing the numerous lives mentioned above, many people have come to perceive the entire occurrence as being a perfect, if you will, example of how mankind can sometimes get ahead of itself.
The Song “S.O.S.”
And so it is with this piece. Biff Byford and co. use the opportunity to point out how the Titanic was a luxurious ship, upon which its many passengers were engaged in some hard chillin’. But the implication is just like that, their fortunes changed.
And the titular “S.O.S.” is being cried out by the ship’s captain. In doing so the captain is entreating any first responders or other caring individuals who are in a position to help to come and ‘save the souls’ of those aboard the sinking ship.
And to note, the Titanic itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. So as put forth earlier, Saxon means for this song to serve as a lesson. And we are once again compelled to conclude that the moral of this story, as asserted in the first verse of the song, is that “the fools were wrong once again”.
So even if the vocalist is singing specifically about the Titanic, it is clear that this song is a piece inspired by other such events also. And “the fools”, by logical deduction, would be those who, generally speaking, are for whatever reason under the impression that they are immune from misfortune.
Saxson and “S.O.S.”
Saxon is a group of English heavy metalists who have been going at it since the late 1970s. Heavy metal doesn’t seem to be a particularly popular genre in the UK. And this may be why many readers never heard of them. But in any event they are a successful band. They actually put out 23 studio albums between 1979 and 2021.
And “S.O.S.” is from the ninth of those efforts, “Destiny”, that came out during March of 1988 via EMI.
“S.O.S.” was written by Saxon frontman Biff Byford alongside his bandmates Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn. The latter is still a member of the crew as of the writing of this post. And the other musicians who participated on “Destiny”, bassist Paul Johnson and drummer Nigel Durham, have also since left the band, as with Graham Oliver.
The producer of the entire “Destiny” album is American entertainment figure Stephan Galfas. And to note, “S.O.S.” was not one of the singles issued from that project.
THE SINKING OF THE RMS TITANIC
The British ship, RMS Titanic was built and operated by the White Star Line and sank at around 2:20 in the morning of 15th April 1912. The Titanic had hit an iceberg at around 11:40 late evening on the 14th April 1912. It sank into the North Atlantic Ocean 600 kilometers opposite Newfoundland, Canada.
The Titanich was built with the best technology and turbine that provided her a horsepower of 46,000. It was claimed to be unsinkable due to the advanced technology it was built with. Before sinking, the ship’s Captain Smith, and his crew received a number of warnings about icebergs in their location. The Caption changed directions further away from their destination in an attempt to heed the warnings but failed to accurately measure up the speed it needed.
The ship was not turned as quickly as needed which caused a major hit into an iceberg. The intensity of the impact opened up six compartments in the ship allowing water to get into it. The Titanic began flooding at a fast pace, swinging one part of the ship. The ship tilted to an angle of 30 to 45 degrees after two hours of hitting the iceberg. The extreme forces endured by the ship caused it to split and sink deep into the ocean. Over 1,500 people lost their lives.