Styx’s 1979 album “Cornerstone” included “Boat on a River” – which was out of character for the band. Even more out of character was the fact that A&M released the song as a single. It never peaked in the US or the UK, but was the highest charting Styx single in Germany peaking at #5.
The style as well as the instrumentation is what is out of character. First of all, Tommy Shaw is singing lead and not Dennis DeYoung –who sings harmonies on this cut and plays accordion. Shaw has traded his guitar for a mandolin and an autoharp. Chuck Panozzo is playing a double bass which he bows during the song’s intro. John Panozzo lays back by only playing his bass drum and a tambourine. James Young adds the acoustic guitar.
It appears that Shaw is playing an Epiphone A-style mandolin; however, later in his career he is seen playing an old Gibson A-style, a Flatiron F-style, and an Ovation guitar shaped mandolin. “All roads lead to Tranquility Base where the frown on my face disappears.”