Walk on the Ocean

Album: Fear (1991)
Charted: 18
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Songfacts®:

  • Is the ocean a metaphor for heaven? Is the song about Jesus?

    To answer these questions, we asked Toad the Wet Sprocket lead singer Glen Phillips, who writes their lyrics. He told us that the band's guitarist Todd Nichols had composed the music, so Glen bashed out a lyric for the demo in about five minutes. A few weeks earlier, he had taken a vacation with his wife to Orcas Island in Washington State, so he had images of cleansing water in his cortex. "I wrote down literally the first thing that came across my mind," he said. "The lyric and the chorus, I have no idea what it means, unfortunately. Then I tried rewriting it and nothing ever really worked. I tried to make the chorus mean something, and eventually said, 'Well, it sounds like I know what I'm talking about.' So we just left it as is. It was the least-conscious, least-crafted lyric."
  • The verses in this song tell a semblance of a story, but Phillips describes the chorus as "nonsense" (wood becomes bone?!).

    He likens this songwriting style to Nirvana's where the song might not make much sense, but it makes you feel something.
  • Fear was Toad the Wet Sprocket's third album, and their breakthrough. Released in August 1991, the album picked up steam when radio stations started playing its second single, "All I Want." The anti-rape but often misinterpreted "Hold Her Down" was the next single, and that one flopped. "Walk on the Ocean" was then issued as the last single from the album, and it was a hit, reaching its peak chart position in January 1993.
  • Apparently, some people thought this was a Billy Joel song when they heard it. When Joel appeared on a Howard Stern town hall presentation in 2014, Stern asked the singer about it and said he was convinced it was one of Billy's songs when he heard it. Joel said he had never heard the song before.

Comments: 7

  • Lafeuille from CanadaThe chorus is the key that unlocks the meaning of this song: walk on the ocean (walk on the beach) step on the stone (get high) flesh becomes water wood becomes bone (sexual arousal). The verses provide the context.
  • David From BronxWalk on the ocean refers to a pending sea voyage
    Flesh becomes water refers to the fact that flesh is mostly water and with water we are one
    Wood become bone refers to the Ship becoming a living thing
  • JoshMan, I have always been a very family conscious person, and this song always made me think about leaving my grandparents’ house. It makes me think of leaving someone behind to go back to smaller and worse things.
  • Sean from MichiganBeing Irish descent, I always felt it described the emigration lf Irish people in the 1800's, leaving their homeland in hopes of a better life, yet not knowing where they're going. Then arriving in NYC, they were ridiculed and despised. Always longing for home but never to return. Many didn't even survive the "walk on the ocean".
  • Rudeboy from PennsylvaniaGreat Song!!! Boy do I miss the 90's and all the Great bands! Today's music SUCKS!
  • Ken from TexasThis song makes me cry. I'm not sure why. Before I ever read the lyrics, I heard the line, "Wood becomes bone" as "Woe becomes hope". Songs that pour out of a writer with minimal effort are often the best. The universe speaks to us on multiple levels.....we just have to listen.
  • Jim from UsaOdd that they say the lyrics were mostly random. It comes across as something profound about insincere small talk and people in general.
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