Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
The very first concert I saw was Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA at some point in 1992. A little known band by the name of Gin Blossoms opened up. Strangely enough, people were moshing during Toad the Wet Sprocket’s set, and singer Glen Phillips commented on the absurdity of it all. The early 90’s were a strange time. The band were touring behind their 3rd record, Fear, and were on the cusp of becoming a household name. I gravitated towards the morose songs in Toad’s repertoire, the emotional depth touching a raw nerve in my teenage brain. Walk on The Ocean spoke to me in a way that those special songs tend to do. The ocean is a spiritual place for me – growing up in the Philadelphia area I spent summers on Long Beach Island, NJ at my Grandfather’s house. When I moved to Washington State, I took as many road trips as possible to discover Puget Sound beaches as well as gems up and down the coast in Washington, Oregon, and California. Yes, you could say that I love the ocean. Lyrically, the song revolves around a gathering of new acquaintances, drawn to the freeing nature of the sea. “Somebody told me this is the place / Where everything’s better and everything’s safe”. A sentiment that rings true, and always will. Musically, the song takes elements of some of the indie and slowcore bands of the day (Red House Painters, The Ocean Blue, Galaxie 500), and adds in a pop slant. The chorus “Walk on the ocean, step on the stones / Flesh becomes water, wood becomes bone” is delivered with a haunting ache, embracing the moment while already lamenting the passage of time. The point is driven home in last verse “Don’t even have pictures, just memories to hold / Grows sweeter each season, as we slowly grow old”. A lyric for the ages, if you ask me. The song hit #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of the band’s defining songs of the 90’s. The band would go on to even greater success with their follow-up album, Dulcinea, and after a long hiatus are once again a viable entity. Walk on The Ocean still pulls at me, 24 years later. Wistful, nostalgic, happy – it has it all.