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Songs of the Sea

Songs of the Sea

Sep 1st 2020

Songs of the SeaThe ocean has long held a place of romance, mystery, and danger in our hearts, as evidenced in literature, film, and song. Here are a few odes to the vastness of the water that covers more than 70% of our planet and calls us to adventure.

(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

Written and recorded shortly before Redding died in a plane crash in December of 1967, this song would go on to become his first number one single on the Billboard charts, as well as his first to sell a million copies. Redding purportedly came up with the idea for the song while staying on a friend's houseboat outside San Francisco. The sad tune about watching ships and the tide roll in and out would later be covered by dozens of artists, including Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, Michael Bolton, Sammy Hagar, Cher, and more.

Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard

The Run Lola Run style video shows singer Ben Dobson reliving the same chase scene three times before ending up in a car with the girl he ostensibly wants to run away with. The song actually isn't about a girl, however, but about the members of the band. They conceived it as an ode to their Jacksonville, FL roots, and the street where they used to hang out.

Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket

The lyrics of this song have been the topic of debate, but lead singer Glen Phillips has said of the chorus that it holds no special meaning. It was essentially stream of consciousness writing. Still, the song is an evocative rumination on aging, set against the backdrop of the ocean, where everything's better, everything's safe.

Under the Sea by Samuel E. Wright

You might not think a song off a Disney soundtrack qualifies for this list, but before you protest, consider how much fun it is to sing along with Sebastian the crab as he tries to convince Ariel that life is just better under the sea, where sturgeons and rays jam out and nobody's trying to put you on a plate. Darling it's better down where it's wetter, and it's hard to disagree with steel drums and Caribbean rhythms urging you to get up and dance.

How Deep is the Ocean by Irving Berlin

In speaking to the difficulties of quantifying love, this song evokes the depths of the ocean, the heights of the sky, and the journey to reach a star, to signify the vastness of devotion. Famously crooned by expressive songstress Billie Holiday, this song was recorded hundreds of times, including by artists like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and more.