A strange, powerful, pulsating piece of music from Led Zeppelin
's 1973 album Houses of the Holy
, The Ocean is not only about
the ocean, it is
the ocean. The time signature
is laid out in blocks of of 4 measures: 3 measures of 4/4 time
followed by a measure of 3/4
. This crazy, stilted rhythm expresses the chaos of the ocean in a storm--the unpredictable explosions of force, the way it catches you off guard even if you've grown up around it. Apparently, it's also a reference to the massive, foaming sea of people at a Led Zeppelin
concert; I guess from Jimmy's
viewpoint, it must have looked like an ocean. If you turn up the volume when you listen to the beginning, you can hear John Bonham
count the beat for the band, emphasizing syllables to give them the rhythm:
"Done four already
but now we're steady
and then they went:
one, two, three, four!"
This could also be interpreted as self-congratulatory patter--they'd done four albums already, all of which went to number one in the UK
charts. If you really
turn it up, you'll hear a telephone
The verses are back in straight 4/4 time
, but between each verse, the musical interludes are back in "ocean" time. After the second verse and some more aggressive soloing, all dies down, and a brief a cappella
interlude--almost a campfire song--comes in very quietly. Don't turn up your speakers; the song comes back at full volume when you aren't expecting it (see a theme here?) and then scrambles into a manic, driving 2/2 time
for a jam that fades out to the end of the album.
Singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain
Hitting on the moonshine
, rocking in the grain
Ain't no time to pack my bag, my foot's outside the door
Got a date, I can't be late, for the high hopes hailla ball.
Singing to an ocean, I can hear the ocean's roar
Play for free, I play for me, I play a whole lot more, more!
Singing about good thing
s and the sun that lights the day
I used to sing on the mountains, 'cause the ocean lost its way.
a cappella, repeat twice:
Na, na, na-na-na na, na, nana nanana nana na...
Na, na, na-na-na na, na, nana nanana nana na.
Sitting round singing songs 'til the night turns into day
Used to sing on the mountains but the mountain
s washed away
Now I'm singing all my songs to the girl who won my heart
She is only three years old and it's a real fine way to start.