we spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
where are we going, so far away
and somebody told me that this is the place
where everything's better, everything's safe

walk on the ocean
step on the stones
flesh becomes water
wood becomes bone

and half and hour later we packed up our things
we said we'd send letters and all those little things
and they knew we were lying but they smiled just the same
it seemed they'd already forgotten we'd came

now we're back at the homestead
where the air makes you choke
and people don't know you
and trust is a joke
we don't even have pictures
just memories to hold
that grow sweeter each season
as we slowly grow old


Lyrics submitted by rabidpenguin

Walk On The Ocean song meanings
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  • +8
    My Interpretation

    Everyone has a different opinion on what a song means and that is the beauty of a song...heck a song can end up meaning something different than the writer intended. Here is what the song means to mean.

    I think it's a song about vagabonding and the search for something better. It certainly fit my life.

    We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail Where are we going, so far away And somebody told me that this is the place Where everything's better, everything's safe

    Whenever I take off to a new place, I hope and pray that the next place I go, no matter how far away, has everything better and everything safe. People don't take a leap of faith to go someplace worse.....

    And half an hour later we packed up our things We said we'd send letters and all those little things And they knew we were lying but they smiled just the same It seemed they'd already forgotten we'd came

    I wish I couldn't relate to this as much as I can. I have been traveling around the world staying in places for 6 months to a year for the last 15 years. Whenever I leave a place I promise to stay in touch and everyone agrees but you know what? It never happens. Most people stuck in one place forget those who have known them a short time very quickly. I've seen this myself.

    Now we're back at the homestead Where the air makes you choke And people don't know you And trust is a joke

    Oh golly, I am relating to this right now. Reverse culture shock. Back in the US(my homestead), I feel like even the air is choking me. No one knows me anymore because travel changes you. I found lots of people to trust on my travels but now settled down I dont find it anymore.

    We don't even have pictures Just memories to hold That grow sweeter each season As we slowly grow old

    I'd say that this is a sad, sad, sad verse. In travels, I often forget to take pictures of the things that brings me the most wonderment. Add to this, most of my experiences at the time are less than wonderful....but over time those not so nice experiences becomes my sweetest memory.

    Just my take on the song.

    jackq7aon September 22, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I'm an introvert. And more than a little self-centered. So naturally, I took this song as describing the arc of an introvert who once had and lost a group of friends.

    "We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail where are we going so far away?"

    "We" meaning not so much a split/multiple personality as meaning a kind of gaining control of unsettled emotion. Because our hero is already tense about what is to come, as indicated by his asking the question before the journey begins. Think of "we" as reassuring one's self: "We're gonna get through this"

    And what is the ocean? It is vast, beautiful, and dangerous - like humanity. Especially to one so far from it as an introvert would be (at the head of the trail).

    "Somebody told me that this is the place where everything's better everything's safe"

    "Somebody" is not a trustworthy soul, necessarily. "Somebody" sounds like the mysterious "they" who perpetuate rumors, at least it does in this context. The unspoken addition to this stanza: "I don't know whether I believe that."

    And introverts are notorious safety-seekers, right? They don't socialize because they have an inherent fear of it, right? Well, "somebody" sold the ocean to our hero as "everything's safe". We all know humanity, for all of its virtues, can be very dangerous.

    "Walk on the ocean Step on the stones flesh becomes water wood becomes bone"

    The chorus is temptation beseeching our hero to give it a try. Do it! Walk on the ocean! Step on the stones (complete your journey)! Flesh becomes water (the great reward for your journey, the pleasures of the flesh, will be commonplace)! Wood (the forest you live in now) becomes bone (petrifies and dies, unlike the eternal ocean)!

    Sounds like a deal, right?

    "Half an hour later we packed up our things said we'd send letters and all of those little things"

    Half an hour not being literal of course, but a symbol of how fleeting the oceanic experience was. We packed up our things? Emotional baggage, anyone? Our hero brought it with him to his oceanic destination and never let it go. Promising to keep contact? When friends part for good without rancor, they never say goodbye, even when it's obvious that this is the end. At least, that was true in my experience.

    "They knew we were lying but they smiled just the same it seemed they'd already forgotten we came"

    They knew our hero was retreating into his safe little world, but didn't talk him out of it. And, our hero imagines, they were prepared to go on as though nothing really happened.

    CHORUS

    "Now back at the homestead where the air makes you choke people don't know you trust is a joke"

    Solitude isn't as great as it used to be, even if it's familiar. And of course no one knows our hero - the only people he bothered with in the first place aren't his friends anymore. Naturally, after a brief fling with friendship which didn't end so well, our hero is more paranoid than he was previously.

    "Don't even have pictures..."

    I have to stop right there. I personally have no mementos of my old "gang". So we're still on theme:

    "...Just memories to hold grow sweeter each season as we slowly grow old."

    Time of course has a way of weeding out the bad stuff, and of course on occasion I remember the good times. But I'm young enough where the bad stuff is very much still in my head.

    Significantly, on the album cut, the song ends RIGHT THERE - there is no reprise of the chorus as in the radio edit.

    So. Whaddaya think?

    dark_nationon August 11, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I am almost certain that this song is about how alive one seems to feel out in nature.

    WALK ON THE OCEAN --- literally Step on the Stones --- literally Flesh becomes water --- metaphorically Wood becomes bone --- metaphorically, (but also somewhat literally----because on a molecular level, we need the oxygen that photosynthetic organisms produce... we are very much intertwined with the world around us, like trees, water, etc...)

    Anyway... the song is about the feeling of being alive during a certain time and place when the natural world/universe was experienced, felt, and remembered.

    mypeace00on October 15, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Toad The Wet Sprocket is by far, in my opinion, the most underrated and unappreaciated band in the History of Rock. I am qualified to make this statement too because I have listened to it all, and thoroughly might I add. Jeremy.

    ultjeron June 12, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Okay, so this might be kind of a stretch, but ever since 8th grade when we learned about the Lewis and Clark expedition, I always relate this song to their journey. I'm a bit obsessed with American history :p

    The first line is one of the main things, since their journey was complete when they made it to the Pacific. They had such high expectations of what they would find there. "We spotted the ocean, at the head of the trail, where were we going, so far away?"

    I think of the second verse as the promises that Lewis and Clark made to the native american populations about the US Government, and how they were trying to extend a hand of a friendship, but their promises would turn out not to be true, and the Native Americans knew that. The Lewis and Clark expedition was just a set of more white men invading their land, hence why they already forgot about them, since there would be many more to come. ("They knew we were lying, but they smiled just the same, it seemed they'd already forgotten we came")

    The term "homestead" is so reminiscent of the 19th century. When the crew returned home from their journey, I'm sure it was a huge change for them, since they had been away from civilization for so long. "and people don't know you, Trust is a joke" stands out, because during their trip, the Corp of Discovery formed strong bonds of fellowship, but that wouldn't exist in "normal" life. Also, Lewis and Clark received very little recognition for their achievments during their lifetime (documenting the many new botanical and animal life on the plains) because their journals took so long to be published. A few years after returning, Lewis commited suicide (or was murdered...there's a debate). He would sleep on the floor because he didn't like sleeping in a bed anymore, having gotten used to the rough way of life. The last, sorrowful song, reminds me a lot of him probably trying to return to a time where he was comfortable, during their journey.

    How random am I? :p

    Frodoholicon October 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    II don't know, this song is just depressing; they go away and make friends who forget them before they even part company. Then they go back home and it seems like they don't belong And life just drags on. with "just memeories to hold" Subjectivre memoriess? The more time that passes, the sweeter the memories get.

    bloodybitchon January 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    "we don't even have pictures, just memories to hold that get sweeter each season as we slowly grow old..." freaking best line of the song.

    glamxpunkon September 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song is definitely about this thing called Young Life camp. You go away for a week and you are surrounded by excellent people who are trustworthy and you feel safe.

    It has even been stated that is about a Young Life camp called Saranac.

    harrisonisthemanon May 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The lines "we don't even have pictures just memories to hold that grow sweeter each season as we slowly grow old" has personal meaning to me because my family didn't have a camera as I was growing up

    piemericaon August 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Agree with frodoholic, lyrics remind me of the lewis and clark expedition, though I'm not entirely sure it's the direct meaning

    adjectiveson February 04, 2009   Link

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