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The Ocean by Led Zeppelin

Album: Houses Of The HolyReleased: 1973
  • "The Ocean" is fans as seen from the stage. It was always dedicated to the audience at concerts.
  • The voice on the intro is drummer John Bonham. When he says, "We've done four already, but now we're steady and then they went, 1... 2... 3... 4...," he is referring to the takes. They had tried to record it 4 times prior but couldn't get it right, so as a pep talk he said his famous line. (thanks, Marshall - Gallatin, TN)
  • In the last line, the "Girl who won my heart" is Robert Plant's daughter Carmen, who was 3 years old at the time.
  • This is one of the few Zeppelin songs where all four members shared the writing credit.
  • Robert Plant used parts of this for his solo song "Tall Cool One."
  • The Beastie Boys sampled this on "She's Crafty." It wasn't their first use of Zeppelin - they took some of Bonham's drums from "When The Levee Breaks" for "Rhymin' And Stealin'."
  • It can barely be heard due to all the guitar overdubs, but during the last minute or so, John Paul Jones and John Bonham sing for one of the only times on a Zeppelin album. They are harmonizing the phrase "Doo wop." (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
  • If you listen carefully, you can hear a phone ringing in the studio at 1:37-1:38 and again (second ring) around 1:41. (thanks, Jon - Clarkston, MI)
  • The lyrics about "The Hellhound" refer to Blues musician Robert Johnson, who according to legend, sold his soul to the devil. On the lyrics sheet that came with the album, the word "hellhound" was replaced with "high hopes hailla." (thanks, Ryan - Metairie, LA)
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Comments: 101

This is Zeppelin's best song.Liam - Brandon, Mb
This song is so awesome, I didn't appreciate Led Zeppelin back in their day, but I do now! I am listening to their stuff all over again, especially this song!Peter - Wilbraham, Ma
Does anyone else realize how much higher and pre-pubescent his voice sounds on this particular track compared to any other zeppelin song? And if so, do you know how he did it? Because it beats me. Amazing singer, but his voice is deteriorating because of the way he uses it.Doyle - Robbinsville, Nj
I recently commented that I couldn't hear the phone ring. I just heard them and I got so exited! Anyway, my favorite Zep song ever. It's one of those songs where you can't really beat your head to it, and at the same time you can, if anybody else understood that.Michael - Staten Island, Ny
I can hear the guitar riff when Bonham says 3. I can hear the doo-wops (which I didn't hear until after reading about it). I can hear "O, so good." I still can't hear a phone ring or a bass pedal squeak no matter how many times i listen to the song.Michael - Staten Island, Ny
If you hear very closely or turn up your speakers before the very main riff begins around 0:07 seconds into the song you should hear the main riff before it actually starts. Sounds to me like Jimmy Page made sure he knew how to play it before the final take, really listen!!!!!David - Los Angeles , Ca
Anyone else hear the "Mhaaaa" at around 1:52 around where the solo is ending to go into that smaller riff.David - Los Angeles , Ca
Unbelievabl, the song that is. This the ultimate Zep song. The way Bonham screams in on the count is just an outrageous start to a great song. Then the riff is just haevenly! The percussion is out of this world. My opinion, best led zeppelin song around. the most energy any Zep song has.Garrett - Pittsburgh, Pa
I love Page's energy when he performs this song live..makes me fall in love with Zeppelin even more..Rachita - Delhi, India
i just finished reading hammer of the gods and he mentioned that it was actually a song about hell.Keith - Oxford, Mi
Oh, and to the guys mentioning the "Oh, so good" line at 4:20, please go away and return to your bong hits.
Sheesh
Oldpink - New Castle, In
It's always a real treat when you have a rhythm section strong enough to pull off an oddball time signature (Floyd's "Money" was 7/8 time) so extremely well.
The bit of Bonham vocie at the very beginning is hilarious, and it makes sense that they would use it to show their fans that it was a bit grueling to get this changeup song down.
The accelerated bit of jamming from Page at the end is just great, then it comes to the end, echoing to finish.
Great fun!
Oldpink - New Castle, In
Fave Led Zeppelin song:) I heard The doo wop:) Never realized that:) Thanx:)Victoria - Memphis, Tn
I love this song, a mishmash of signatures but you can still groove along despite the 15/8 bits! As for the "We've done four already..." comment, he's probably just talking about takes of the song - you rarely do it on the first one, they probably duffed 3 up and got it on the one we hearSeán - Glasgow, Scotland
i played this at my school talent show. Go mormans!Nate - Provo, Ut
Robert Plant has said that after he was rushed to the hospital following his near fatal car accident on the Greek island of Rhodes (which put him into a body cast for 9 months), he had the surreal experience of being recognized by a drunken Greek sailor who was lying on the next bed. The sailor waved at him and began bellowing out the heavy opening riff from "The Ocean." This, as well as many other experiences, led Plant to have some serious doubts about whether being a "rock star" was worth the grief.Robert - Houston, Tx
I think that the part at the end where he pays hommage to his little girl is so charming. Wonderful song.Rea - Monticello, Ar
It's not "I'm sorry". The lyrics to that part(I've discovered from hearing live versions) are: "I don't, I don't, I don't know." Anyone else think the end part sounds a lot like "Fool in the Rain"?Brian - Mandeville, La
good song. great guitar, and lyricsPaul - Columbia, Sc
this song never ceases to amaze me.Melanie - Seattle, Wa
I love that beginning line, "We've done four already, but now we're steady, and then they went, one, two, three, four!" It is hilarious.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
i love this song, i love this song, i love this song, i love this song...there is nothing to discust.Tadi - Mitrovica, Al
bonham is awsome in the beginingBill - Topeka, Ks
Many have commented on the squeak in Bonham's kick drum pedal. Actually, this can be heard in virtually all of Led Zeppelin songs as Bonham is famous for using the Ludwig Speedking pedal which is quite notorious for its squeak. It is still made and sold by Ludwig and it still has the famous squeak.

Check out "Since I've Been Loving You" for a very clear and easy to hear example.

I'm currently learning this on my Les Paul... it seemed very difficult at first, but it is coming along nicely now. The trick is to slow it down in ProTools and play each solo over and over while learning it. The guitar solos are very cool... it is awesome to watch the DVD which includes this song... it helped me to see how Page fingered the G chord in the riff...

I saw Zeppelin in Atlanta in '73... I remember this song in particular as Page strutted on stage "kicking" his bell bottoms during the main solos...

Does Page worship the Devil? Or is it just a lot of publicity stirring smoke and mirrors...
Robert - Snellville, Ga
you can tell why dave grohl loves this stuff!Echo - Normalville, Ma
AWESOME song love itJacob Huffman - Rancho Cucamonga, Ca
This song is one of Plant's best vocal works.Toni - Cedar Rapids, Ia
I think I read Bonham played a big part of writing this one. That's maybe why it got included over the song Houses of the Holy maybe? For some reason I think I heard it came down to those two on the final album track cut.Mark - Worcester, Mi
Great Song....Raw....sounded great live...saw the 73 tour and it was one of the nights bestPerry - Detroit, Mi
I love this song, I only recently got the album version of the song and had only heard the HTWWW version. I love them both, but Plant's voice on the album version just gives me chills. This is definitely my favorite Led Zeppelin song.

As far as the many things that people have said are in this song, all I have heard is Bonham at the beginning; Bonham and Jones harmonizing; the riff at the three count; and Plant saying "I'm sorry." I've strained to hear the phone ring and just can't.

And for the first verse, it sounds to me like: "I got a date, I can't be late, for the hell I'm headin' for."
Donnie - Lambsburg, Va
I thought it went like this......

Singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain Hitting on the moonshine, rocking in the grain Got no time to pack my bag, my foots outside the door I Got a date, I can't be late, CAUSE ITS HELL IM HEADED FOR
John - Ridley, Pa
I can hear Bonzo talking in the beginning, I can hear the squeak, I can hear the phone ring, and the doo wop and the I'm sorry, but I think those last two are supposed to be in the song not some accident. But I need some help on these other things, for you people with loud speakers when you hear the guitar riff while Bonzo is saying "We've done 4 already..ect" it sounds as though that faint little guitar bit is played along with the song under the regular sound guitar riff I could just be crazy. And also at 1:53 Is that JPJ and Bonzo "aahing" in the background or is it Plant? Anyways this is my first post and I am a led head so tell me what you think.Dylan - Front Royal, Va
I love watching Jimmy Page play this song in the Led Zeppelin DVD.Notice his little moves he pulls when he is playing,amazing!Kay - Westminster, Ca
I was just wondering if anyone could give me an exact or approximate time that JPJ and Bonzo start singing "doo wop".Thomas - Staten Island, Ny
The hidden little sounds in this song are immensely entertaining. They give you a vision of what zeppelin was really like.Ed - Ottawa, Canada
The music is sort of Jethro Tull, song Hymn 43..2morrow - Denver, Co
The live guitar solo is waaay better then the regular one. It was absolutly perfect. I cant stop watching it!Phil - Woodbridge, Va
Woahh... dude! You can actually hear all of the stuff mentioned. The squeaky bass drum, the phone ringing, and even the "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry", that was mentioned. And I dont know if I am just crazy, or not, but if you listen REAL close, it seems that after Plant says the "I'm sorry's", he hums along with the doo whops and he kind of goes "whoo hoo hoo hoo" along with them. I'm not sure. Someone else listen and tell me if I am crazy or not. But I think he does.

Any-ways, GREAT song! Definitly goes on my top ten list of my favourite Zeppelin songs. It's perfect in every single way. Great guitar riff!
Mandy - Calgary
I'm so high now. I'm listening to this song and it's so coolJt - Tullahoma, Tn
I know its off topic but Black Dog's name came from a homeless dog roaming around the studio that Led Zeppelin was recording in, they needed a name for a song, so picked Black Dog...Good Choice Guys..Zac - Cornwall, Canada
bonhams bass drum squeeks the entire song. listin closleyRyan - Ashland, Or
ummmm Joseph, North Bellmore, NY, zep never played in 76Ryan - Ashland, Or
I Love this Song. It's so cool because it has so many things to listen closely for, The Phone, The Doo-Wops, The Squeaky Drums, When John Bonam Says "Three"in the intro, you can hear the main riff of the song if you listen closely, and at 3:40 Plant starts saying I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry, Yeah, and probably alot more things that I don't know.Joseph - Chicago, Il
When Robert Plant broke his leg in a car crash,
(I think it was in Greece), he was sent into a
ward with other patients and one of them happened to be singing it when he was brought in.
Supposedly it Freaked him out. I saw Zep twice
1976 Nassau Coliseum + 1977 Madison Square Garden.
They didn't play it either time. My loss.
Joseph - North Bellmore, Ny
This song is awesome. The first lead is the first one I ever learned to play. Coincidentally, I played this at a surpruse gig a few hours ago (not knowing we were playing it till I got there) and disapponted myself. I'll do better next time, Jimmy, I promiseJesse - Toronto, Canada
april 20th is national pot smokers day. on 4:20 plant says "oh so good" i just thought that was coolJake - Lexington, Ky
I love this song. The main riff is one of my favorites from Jimmy. A classic song.Devon - Westerville, Oh
AWESOME i finally heard the phone ring. for anyone that cant hear it, listen for a really high pitched almost hissing sound, its there.Jordan - Shokan, Ny
i LOVE THIS SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
when Bonham says we've dont four already and now we're steady, he is refering to their albums I believe because The Ocean was on Houses of the Holy and before that album, 4 Zeppelin albums where already made....i dont know if this is correct but just what i thought.Josh - North Branford, Ct
oh the stage makes sense. because like in the dvds the people seriously are like waves on the stage. i never really understood how it was about the fans looking like an ocean until i saw the dvd...how they come up in waves with their arms on the stage...so cool...i wish i was there. and if the stage is a mountain, its like the mountain (stage) washed away. which makes sense.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
one of my favorite songs ever, awesome.Jordan - Shokan, Ny
In my opinion, the ending of this song is one of the most beautiful intrumentations I've ever heard from Led Zeppelin.John - Monvtille, Nj
The mountains are the stage. Robert used to sing on the mountains to the ocean, but now he sings to his daughter.Jeremy - Marlboro, Nj
One Of Zep's Best, Jimmy Page makes this song what it is. This is also a very underated song.Matt - Brandon, Canada
The ending rules!Jo-c - Lima, Peru
Sometimes while singing "She's only 3 years old" live he would change it to "Carmen's only 4 years old" (this being in '73 of course when she was 4) The version on the DVD would be like that but Jimmy edited that part with a vocal part from one of the other 2 nights of that 3 night stand in MSG. My favorite version of this song is most likely June 2, 1973 at Kezar Stadium in San Fransisco.Chad - Reading, Pa
This is a great song, one of my favourites by Zeppelin. My theory about the 'We've done four already,' part is that they accidentally recorded it onto the record, but ended up leaving it. JPJ's bassline at the end is perfect.Morgaine - Calgary, Canada
i always thought the mountains were like obstacles. you know because they're obstacles like mountains...i thought it meant all the stuff that got in the way of his singing. and then the ocean washed the mountains away.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
thanks jeremy. i thought i was hearing things.Moocakes - San Gabriel, Ca
The song is about the fans and the audience of Led Zeppelin. "i used to sing to the mountains has the ocean lost its way?" this is symbolicly refering to how their crowds were once small and quiet liek the mountains but since they gained so much talent they became loud and would roar as the oceans doPatrick - Alpine, Nj
If you listen to the intro of this one while Bonham is giving his intro count listen closely and youll hear Jimmy Page play the Ocean riff at like warp speed before the real riff comes in to start the song, you gotta do it with head phones its very cool!Jeremy - Warren , Ri
o yeah and i'm determined to sing songs until night turns into day like in the song. you know just sit around all night with nothing but friends and led zeppelin until sunrise.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
yes i knew that was about his daughter!Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
i think ya'll might be missing one of the more important aspects of this song....what is plant really saying at 47-49 seconds....it sure isn't high hopes hailla ball....it sounds more like hell hounds, or hell has opened its doors or something....what is a high hope hailla ball anyway.....??!!!Congo - Pittsburgh, Pa
I used to hear that phone ringing when I had the headphones on. I would take them off and couldn't figure out why I thought I heard the phone. Then one day I realized it was on the recording.

I always thought the count was in reference to the number of albums they had released.

For you pot heads, I don't recall the term 420 being used in the 70's. Give it a rest.
Theseus - Seattle, Wa
Haha, I noticed the "doo-wop" thing today for the first time, and i came on here to see if it had been mentioned. This is a great song. I always thought it was an audio sampling or something at the beginning, not Bonham the Almighty. Awesome. I always scare my frineds who are listening to this the first time, because they say (I can't hear anything" so I tell them to get their ear right up next to the speaker... hilarious right around 'four'. Same with "In The Flesh?" by Pink Floyd.Travis - Rocky Mount, Nc
only good at madison square gardden in 1973 page is godJaydm - Brisbane, Australia
the line by bonham in the beginning, "weve got four already, and now were ready, and then they went" is the drum beat. Every fourth word the snare drum is hit. On "already", "ready", and "went"Robert - Cold Spring Harbor, Ny
"Oh it's so good" comes in at 3:32 from "How The West Was Won". The song does end at 4:19 (including crow cheering). Think there are any drug references with that? (that is a tongue in cheek question).Kenny - Tuscaloosa, Al
in the dvd robert plant says ''now im singin all my songs to the girl who won my heart she is only 4 years old now thats a real fine way to start'' but in the cd he says''now im singin all my songs to the girl who won my heart she is only 3 years old now thats a real fine way to start''Dustin - My Home, In
420 is what the cops used as their code for marijuana it wasnt college kids. They changed this because so many people learned it.Simon - Fairfield, Ct
Is is just me, or can you hear voices in the background during this song?Erik - Newport News, Va
Maybe its just me but i hear bonham saying "we've done four already but now we're steady and then they went 1, 2, 3, 4Nelson - Durham, Nc
wow this is an awesome songAlec - Salisbury, Md
played in Madison Square Garden in 1973.Josh - Montrose, Mi
Someone asked what the mountains meant, and I think they are talking about the media, not sure though.
Love this song.
Mike - Garden City, Ny
In the beginning bonzo says "we have done four already but now we are steady and now we are set one two three four"Chris - Atlanta, Ga
By the way, for the potheads: Technically Plant says "So good" at 4:21.Mason - Greenville, Nc
Thanks BobMason - Greenville, Nc
We've done 4 already but now we're steady, and then they went one two three fourBob - Chicago, In
Does anybody know what Bonzo is saying at the beginning? His accent is hard for us stupid Americans to understand. :)Mason - Greenville, Nc
Now I'm no pothead, but I know what 420 means, and it's not college kid's code for pot, it's the police code.Anonymous - Electric Ladyland
hey caitlin-if u really want to know, the phone ring in "the ocean" is precisely at 1:38, and ends at around 1:42. As for the pedal sqeak, it pretty much is overridden by a cymbal crash, at 3:57. Great song, and can play it on drums-Brendan - Eureka, Ca
This is an awesome guitar riff but here's a way to make it sound more interesting: If you have an electric violin, play the riff before the vocal solo on it like you would on guitar, but use a pen cap as a pick. It's basically a reverse scale starting on a G# on the D string:
G#G#G#G#-FFFF-EflatDEflat-G#G#G#G#-Full String Slide starting on Eflat. It sounds really good when played just over tempo.
Chris - Whitesboro, Ny
At the end of the song, Page's guitar mimics a '50s style (which would go with the "Doo Wops" we hear, of course.) The '50s seemed like ancient history back when I first heard this song, but Page was no farther removed from the '50s than we are from grunge, really.Jon - Roeland Park, Ks
I've never been able to hear the phone ring...or John Bonham's drum pedal squeak at 3:57.Caitlin - Philadelphia, Pa
420 was a codeword for a group of college kids who used to smoke weed at 420 in the afternoon everyday. 420 is what they refered to grass as, so it didn't atract attention. so its not a national drug day, but stoners across the globe honor those great men on april 20th every year, by smoking pot.Jesse - Enfield, Ct
420 is another name for weed (marijuana.)Brian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
what does 420 have to do w/ pot?Nate - Buffalo, Ny
Guess this must've been written in 1971 as Carmen Plant would be 3 years at that time, if I'm not mistaken.Paulo - New York, Ny
Yeah Thomas, it does use 15/8, but the song is more commenly written as a measure of 4/4, and a measure of 7/8. Anyways. This was one of the first songs that my band learned and it has grown to be one of my alltime favorites. It's so catchy.Jonathan - Ann Arbor, Mi
amazing, amazing song. My favorite song on the bast Zep album everBrian - Mayfield Heights, Oh
Yep, at 4:20 he says "Oh it's so good". For those who don't know 4/20 is the national drug day.Colin - Cow Town, Canada
A Zeppelin classic, I love it!Adrian - Wilmington, De
ha ha your right ryanAllen - Superior, Wi
Call me a pothead, but at 4:20 he says "Oh so good".Ryan - Reedsport, Or
if the crowd/fans are the ocean - then who were the mountains?Rita - Sudbury, Ma
The main guitar riff in "I'm Broken" by Pantera, is an interpretation of the guitar riff in this song.Brian - Paoli, In
During the lead break, you can actually hear a phone ringing in the studioJim - Bethlehem, Pa
Uses the unusual 15/8 time signature, which gives it a rushed feel.Thomas - Pittsburgh, Pa