- 1.‘La Mer (Beyond The Sea)’ – Bobby Darin
- 2.‘Across the Sea’ – Weezer
- 3.‘Sea of Love’ – The National
- 4.‘Lost Sailor’ – Grateful Dead
- 5.‘Captain Kennedy’ – Neil Young
- 6.‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ – The Beach Boys
- 7.‘Yellow Submarine’ – The Beatles
- 8.‘The Grey Funnel Line’ – Cyril Tawney
- 9.‘Ship Ahoy’ – The O’Jays
- 10.‘Binary Sea’ – Death Cab for Cutie
- 11.‘To The Sea’ – Jack Johnson
- 12.‘Sinner in the Sea’ – Calexico
- 13.‘This Is the Sea’ – The Waterboys
- 14.‘Wading in the Velvet Sea’ – Phish
The sea has long been a subject of fascination and inspiration for musicians, writers, and artists of all kinds. Its vastness, its power, and its ever-changing moods have captured the human imagination for centuries, and have inspired countless songs about the sea. Whether they celebrate the sea’s beauty and majesty, or speak to its darker and more ominous qualities.
The best songs about the sea are marked by a sense of awe and wonder at the natural world. From classic rock anthems like “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles and “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, to haunting ballads like “Sea of Love” by The National and “The Grey Funnel Line” by Cyril Tawney, the best songs about the sea offer a diverse and eclectic range of musical styles and themes. Some, like Jack Johnson’s “To The Sea” and The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Fight The Sea,” celebrate the sea’s power to heal and transform, while others, like Death Cab for Cutie’s “Binary Sea” and Calexico’s “Sinner in the Sea,” explore the darker and more uncertain aspects of life on the ocean. Whether they speak to the sea’s beauty or its mystery, the best songs about the sea all share a sense of awe and wonder at the natural world. They remind us of the vastness and power of the ocean, and of our own place in the great scheme of things.
1.‘La Mer (Beyond The Sea)’ – Bobby Darin
‘La Mer (Beyond The Sea)’ is a classic pop song originally written in French by Charles Trenet, but the Bobby Darin version is the most popular. The song’s melody is both haunting and romantic, and Darin’s smooth voice adds to the song’s overall charm. The lyrics evoke a sense of longing and yearning, and the chorus’s refrain of “Beyond the sea” emphasizes the idea of something far away and out of reach. The song has been used in numerous films and TV shows, and it has remained a timeless classic.
2.‘Across the Sea’ – Weezer
‘Across the Sea’ by Weezer is a melancholic and introspective song that explores the feeling of isolation and loneliness. The lyrics describe a long-distance relationship, with the protagonist longing to be with someone who is far away. The song’s instrumentation is minimalist, with a simple guitar riff and subdued drums, allowing the lyrics to take center stage. Rivers Cuomo’s vocal delivery is emotive and raw, conveying the pain and longing in the lyrics. Overall, ‘Across the Sea’ is a beautifully crafted song that captures the bittersweet feeling of missing someone.
3.‘Sea of Love’ – The National
‘Sea of Love’ by The National is a slow-burning, atmospheric ballad that conveys a sense of longing and vulnerability. The song’s sparse instrumentation consists of a steady drum beat, a mournful piano melody, and frontman Matt Berninger’s deep, distinctive vocals. The lyrics explore the theme of unrequited love, with Berninger pleading for his love interest to “come closer” and “never let me go.” The song’s melancholic tone is amplified by the haunting backing vocals and the subtle use of strings. Overall, ‘Sea of Love’ is a beautifully crafted song that showcases The National’s ability to create a powerful emotional connection with their listeners through their music.
4.‘Lost Sailor’ – Grateful Dead
‘Lost Sailor’ by Grateful Dead is a psychedelic rock song that features the band’s signature improvisational style. The song begins with a mellow, jazz-influenced intro before transitioning into a lively, upbeat rhythm. The lyrics tell the story of a sailor who becomes lost at sea and must navigate his way back to land. The song’s instrumentation is complex, with intricate guitar riffs and a driving bass line that propel the song forward. The band’s harmonies are tight and precise, adding to the song’s overall energy. The song’s jam section provides ample opportunity for the band members to showcase their musical prowess, making each performance unique. Overall, ‘Lost Sailor’ is a dynamic and engaging song that highlights Grateful Dead’s ability to blend different genres and musical styles into a cohesive whole.
5.‘Captain Kennedy’ – Neil Young
‘Captain Kennedy’ by Neil Young is a melancholic folk-rock song that tells the story of a soldier who has returned home from war but is struggling to adjust to civilian life. The song’s instrumentation is sparse, with Young’s distinctive voice and acoustic guitar taking center stage. The lyrics are poignant and introspective, with Young reflecting on the toll that war takes on individuals and society as a whole. The song’s chorus, with its refrain of “Captain Kennedy, I wish you well,” adds to the overall sense of empathy and understanding that the song conveys. Overall, ‘Captain Kennedy’ is a powerful and moving song that showcases Young’s ability to use his music to comment on the social and political issues of his time.
6.‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ – The Beach Boys
‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ by The Beach Boys is a catchy pop-rock song with an upbeat tempo that captures the carefree, surf-inspired spirit of the band’s early music. The song’s lyrics are simple and repetitive, with the chorus urging the listener to “let the ocean set you free” and “don’t fight the sea.” The song’s instrumentation is bright and sunny, with harmonized vocals, a bouncy bass line, and a twangy guitar riff that evoke the feeling of riding the waves. Overall, ‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ is a fun and infectious song that captures the youthful energy and optimism that The Beach Boys were known for.
7.‘Yellow Submarine’ – The Beatles
‘Yellow Submarine’ by The Beatles is a whimsical, psychedelic pop song that has become a cultural icon. The song’s playful lyrics describe a submarine journey taken by the band and their friends, accompanied by a friendly captain and a crew of lively characters. The song’s instrumentation is equally colorful and eclectic, with sound effects like bubbles, whistles, and ringing bells adding to the song’s trippy atmosphere. The chorus is catchy and instantly recognizable, with the repeated refrain of “We all live in a yellow submarine.” Overall, ‘Yellow Submarine’ is a joyful and lighthearted song that showcases The Beatles’ ability to create music that is both playful and meaningful.
8.‘The Grey Funnel Line’ – Cyril Tawney
‘The Grey Funnel Line’ by Cyril Tawney is a haunting and poignant folk song that speaks to the experiences of sailors in the British navy. The song’s sparse instrumentation consists of Tawney’s unadorned vocals accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar. The lyrics are introspective and melancholic, with Tawney reflecting on the isolation and loneliness of life at sea, as well as the toll that it takes on sailors and their loved ones. The chorus, with its refrain of “When I come home to you, my love, I’ll bring a heart that’s true,” adds a note of hope and resilience to the song. Overall, ‘The Grey Funnel Line’ is a powerful and emotional song that speaks to the universal experiences of longing, loss, and perseverance.
9.‘Ship Ahoy’ – The O’Jays
‘Ship Ahoy’ by The O’Jays is a soulful and socially conscious song that addresses the history of the transatlantic slave trade. The song’s instrumentation is upbeat and funky, with a driving bass line, soaring horns, and the group’s signature harmonized vocals. The lyrics, however, are sobering and poignant, with the band members urging listeners to remember the atrocities of the slave trade and to fight for justice and equality. The chorus, with its refrain of “Ship ahoy, ship ahoy,” acts as a call to action, urging people to confront and address the systemic racism that continues to affect society. Overall, ‘Ship Ahoy’ is a powerful and important song that uses music as a means to address issues of social and political importance.
10.‘Binary Sea’ – Death Cab for Cutie
‘Binary Sea’ by Death Cab for Cutie is a contemplative and introspective song that reflects on the transience of human existence and the fleeting nature of our experiences. The song’s instrumentation is atmospheric and ethereal, with ambient electronics and cascading guitars that create a dreamlike atmosphere. The lyrics are reflective and philosophical, with lead singer Ben Gibbard pondering the impermanence of life and the inevitability of change. The song’s title, with its reference to a “binary sea,” suggests a sense of duality and opposition, and adds to the song’s overall sense of introspection and contemplation.
11.‘To The Sea’ – Jack Johnson
‘To The Sea’ by Jack Johnson is a laid-back and melodic song that speaks to the restorative power of nature and the healing potential of the ocean. The song’s instrumentation is gentle and organic, with Johnson’s soothing vocals accompanied by acoustic guitars and gentle percussion. The lyrics are introspective and reflective, with Johnson musing on the cyclical nature of life and the ways in which the natural world can offer us solace and perspective. The song’s chorus, with its refrain of “No need to pack your bags, we know the way,” adds to the overall sense of comfort and ease that the song conveys. Overall, ‘To The Sea’ is a gentle and contemplative song that offers a sense of peace and tranquility to the listener.
12.‘Sinner in the Sea’ – Calexico
‘Sinner in the Sea’ by Calexico is a haunting and atmospheric song that speaks to feelings of isolation and despair. The song’s instrumentation is sparse and evocative, with twangy guitar lines and ethereal harmonies that create a sense of unease and foreboding. The lyrics are introspective and melancholic, with lead singer Joey Burns reflecting on feelings of loss and disconnection. The song’s chorus, with its refrain of “Lost out on the ocean, a sinner in the sea,” adds to the overall sense of isolation and despair conveyed by the song.
13.‘This Is the Sea’ – The Waterboys
‘This Is the Sea’ by The Waterboys is an anthemic and uplifting song that celebrates the power and majesty of the natural world. The song’s instrumentation is grand and sweeping, with soaring guitars, epic drums, and the band’s signature blend of Celtic and rock influences. The lyrics are optimistic and inspiring, with lead singer Mike Scott urging listeners to embrace the beauty and wonder of the sea and to seek out adventure and transformation. The song’s chorus, with its rousing refrain of “This is the sea, this is the sea, this is the sea,” adds to the overall sense of exaltation and joy conveyed by the song. Overall, ‘This Is the Sea’ is a celebratory and life-affirming song that speaks to the transformative power of nature and the importance of seizing life’s opportunities.
14.‘Wading in the Velvet Sea’ – Phish
‘Wading in the Velvet Sea’ by Phish is a gentle and melancholic song that speaks to feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. The song’s instrumentation is sparse and atmospheric, with soft piano and gentle guitar lines that create a sense of introspection and contemplation. The lyrics are introspective and poignant, with lead singer Trey Anastasio reflecting on the uncertainty and confusion of life, and the ways in which we all must navigate our own paths through the unknown. The song’s chorus, with its refrain of “Wading in the velvet sea,” adds to the overall sense of vulnerability and uncertainty conveyed by the song. Overall, ‘Wading in the Velvet Sea’ is a reflective and introspective song that speaks to the challenges and uncertainties of life, and the ways in which we all must find our own way through the unknown. The song’s melancholic tone and introspective lyrics are characteristic of Phish’s style, which often blends elements of rock, jazz, and other genres to create a unique and eclectic sound.