"The Ocean"
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album Houses of the Holy
Released28 March 1973 (1973-03-28)
FormatLP record
StudioStargroves, East Woodhay, England
GenreHard rock[1]
Producer(s)Jimmy Page
Audio sample

"The Ocean" is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin, from their 1973 album Houses of the Holy. The ocean is a metaphor for the "sea of heads" faced by lead singer Robert Plant "in the auditoriums", according to the group's biographer Dave Lewis.[2][3][4]


Eddie Kramer, who was present during the recording of Houses of the Holy, commented on extraneous noises in the recording: "It's entirely possible. [The song was] done in a house [but] I don't remember there being [a phone ringing]."[5] Jimmy Page remarked:

I'm thrilled the records are recorded in such a way that the hi-fi quality, even though it's tough … you can hear detail on it because that's what you're supposed to do. It was supposed to be something whereby you could hear everything that was going on.[6]

"The Ocean" features an unusual time signature, being partially in septuple meter, with a repeated two-measure phrase consisting of one bar of 4
and one bar of 7

Live performances

In the last line, the "girl who won my heart" refers to Robert Plant's daughter Carmen, (born 21 November 1968), who was three years old at the time of recording. In concert, Plant always updated the lyric to reflect her current age, as captured on the Led Zeppelin DVD which features a performance of the song at Madison Square Garden in 1973.[8] During this performance, Plant sang the third verse, which starts with "Sitting round singing songs 'til the night turns into day" as the second verse and sang the second verse at the end of the song. The band first played the song live on their 1972 U.S. concert tour and it remained as part of their performances until their 1973 U.S. tour. It was deleted from the set list thereafter.[2]


In a review for the reissue of Houses of the Holy, Kristofer Lenz of Consequence of Sound gave "The Ocean" a positive review, calling the song "clattering and demonstrative... [an] underappreciated gem".[9] Lenz continues, "Page and co. get back to their swaggering rock roots with one of the nastiest guitar riff/drum fill combos in rock history." and "The song and album end with a riotous crescendo as Plant screams out "Ohhhh, so gooood!" And he is soooo right."[9]

However, not all the reception for the song was as positive. In a contemporary review for Houses of the Holy, Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone gave "The Ocean" a negative review, calling the track "so diluted" and filled with "pointless humor".[10] Fletcher further wrote, "Jimmy Page's guitar spits jagged fireballs with John Paul Jones and John Bonham riffing along behind him, but the effect is destroyed by ridiculous backup cooings and an overbearing "killer" coda that's so blatant it can only be taken as a mock of straight rock & roll."[10]

Formats and track listings

1973 7" single (Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 10316)

  • A. "The Ocean" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) – 4:31
  • B. "Dancing Days" (Page, Plant) – 3:43

1973 7" single (Germany: Atlantic ATL 10316)


Chart (1973) Peak position
Germany (Official German Charts)[11] 8


Cover versions and samples


  1. ^ Davis, Stephen (2010). "A Complex Die-Cut Affair". LZ-'75: The Lost Chronicles of Led Zeppelin's 1975 American Tour. Gotham Books. ISBN 1-59240-589-4. such hard-rock masterpieces as "The Ocean" and "Over the Hills and Far Away."
  2. ^ a b Lewis, Dave (1994). The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  3. ^ "The 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  4. ^ Smith, Emily (27 March 2017). "8 songs inspired by the sea -- a soundtrack for your travels". CNN. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Eddie Kramer Exhibition – 5 - Led Zeppelin + KISS". YouTube. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ Bonner, Michael (January 2015). "An Audience with Jimmy Page". Uncut: 18.
  7. ^ Schnalle, Wally (11 March 2011). "How to Play 'The Ocean' by Led Zeppelin". Drum!. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  8. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (11 May 2011). "Led Zeppelin, 'The Ocean' – Lyrics Uncovered". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b Lenz, Kristopher (4 November 2014). "Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy [Reissue]". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  10. ^ a b Fletcher, Gordon (7 June 1973). "Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Led Zeppelin – The Ocean". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 14 March 2014.

External links

  • "The Ocean" at ledzeppelin.com
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • "The Ocean" at bbc.co.uk