What are some great beach-related songs that are *not* beach party songs?
June 9, 2010 3:50 PM   Subscribe

What are some great beach-related songs that are *not* beach party songs?

I'm interested in suggestions for good/great songs that refer to beaches, but not the party version of beaches. Ideally they also wouldn't be about some cheesy romantic beaches. Instead, I'm more interested in beaches in a reflective sense or just a general conceptual sense. Think rainy, rocky, chill beach instead of a bikini beach or wedding photo beach.

Example: Echo Beach (by Martha and the Muffins).
posted by 1001 questions to Media & Arts (61 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Dead Kennedys, Funland at the Beach.
posted by Beardman at 3:52 PM on June 9, 2010

Hmm. I didn't read "reflective sense." DKs retracted!
posted by Beardman at 3:53 PM on June 9, 2010

Try The Island/Come and See by the Decemberists. (Oceanside by them is also an option, but it's far more romantic.)
posted by NoraReed at 3:56 PM on June 9, 2010

"Bones" by the Killers talks about the beach, and I guess kind of in a romantic context, but also in a kind of weird chilling way. It takes place on a beach at night during a storm. The music also kind of agrees with what's being said in a cool way.

We took a back road, we're gonna look at the stars
We took a back road in my car
Down to the ocean, it's only water and sand
And in the ocean, we'll hold hands
But I don't really like you
Apologetically dressed and in the best put on a heartbeat line
Without an answer, the thunder speaks for the sky
And on the cold, wet dirt I cry
And on the cold, wet dirt I cry
posted by amethysts at 4:00 PM on June 9, 2010

Well, Kizmiaz was about as reflective as anything the Cramps ever did.

But what you really want is Every Day Is Like Sunday by Morrissey. Come Armageddon, come!
posted by rikschell at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Killing an Arab
posted by pompomtom at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2010

posted by pompomtom at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2010

Santa Monica by Everclear
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:12 PM on June 9, 2010

Always You by Sophie Zelmani

If it wasn't the ocean, wasn't the breezes,
wasn't the white sand then there might be no need
posted by zizzle at 4:13 PM on June 9, 2010

Nightswimming by REM feels like a sad beach song but probably isn't if you analyse the lyrics specifically.
posted by shelleycat at 4:14 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"The Ocean" by Dar Williams isn't without romance, but it's a beautiful song and might still be along the lines of what you're looking for.
posted by divisjm at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Doesn't get much bleaker than Neil Young's On the Beach
posted by oinopaponton at 4:17 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

"West Palm Beach" and "Gulf Shores" by Palace Music (Will Oldham)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2010

"Einstein on the Beach" by Philip Glass is far out opera which only really mentions the beach in the title, mostly a lot of polyphonic harmoic singing. This may fit the 'conceptual' tag you mention.

"West Palm Beach" by Palace Music, aka Will Oldham, is a lonesome dirge about remembering a trip to Florida beaches.

"They Don't Sleep on the Beach Anymore" by Godspeed You! Black Emperor has a spoken word intro about the death of Coney Island followed by orchestral instrumental rock. Second disc, 1st song off "Lift your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven." Very haunting song.
posted by rabbitsnake at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2010

This is the Sea- The Waterboys
posted by kimdog at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2010

Soft Boys, Underwater Moonlight.
posted by jet_silver at 4:25 PM on June 9, 2010

the sea is a good place to think of the future- los campesinos!
posted by millipede at 4:28 PM on June 9, 2010

Anything by Beach House. Even though the songs aren't about the beach, they have that reflective woozy feeling.
posted by matildaben at 4:29 PM on June 9, 2010

More Brian Eno:

On Some Faraway Beach

Julie With... is more about the "open sea," but must be somewhat adjacent to a beach...?
posted by rikschell at 4:33 PM on June 9, 2010

10 x 10 is creepy, crazy, and all about violence and death at the seashore. It's also kind of an amazing song.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:34 PM on June 9, 2010

The Appleseed Cast has a whole concept album about the ocean called Mare Vitalis.

My favorite is the song "Fishing the Sky," which you can listen to here.
posted by a.steele at 4:37 PM on June 9, 2010

Redondo Beach, by Patti Smith
posted by gingerbeer at 4:37 PM on June 9, 2010

Hmm, not sure what this'll do for my rep, but still:

Chris Rea's On the beach might be MOR, but it's got a nicely sinister edge. Studio recording, with duff video; long live version which I haven't heard before.

Hangs head, goes back to listening to Glasvegas.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:39 PM on June 9, 2010

David Gray's Shine takes place on a beach.

Warning: It may be the most heartbreaking song ever. Or maybe I just think so because I dated a guy who used it to dump me...
posted by chatongriffes at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2010

Red House Painters had an album called Ocean Beach, of which Summer Dress sticks in my head as the most actual beach-related.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:51 PM on June 9, 2010

Sorry, I know this isn't the blue, but on the subject of that Glasvegas song: I cycled along Saltcoats beach on a weekday morning once. It was because I'd missed the ferry to Arran, obviously, and the women in the Calmac terminal had no better suggestion for what to do in Ardrossan than to go to Saltcoats, which tells you a little too much about Ardrossan. It was one of the most depressing experiences of my life. There was this chap walking his dog and drinking Tennents Special Brew from the unmistakable blue can. Before ten o'clock in the morning, this was, and with the gorgeous view out across the Firth of Clyde reminding everyone who could bear to look what a dump Saltcoats was. That song suits the place perfectly.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:53 PM on June 9, 2010

Moonlight Drive.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2010

Knew I had something more relecant. Georges Brassens, Supplique pour être enterré sur la plage de Sète.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:02 PM on June 9, 2010

Vant. Relevant.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:02 PM on June 9, 2010

Up the Beach and Ocean Size by Jane Addiction
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:07 PM on June 9, 2010

Blue by Joni Mitchell
posted by Daily Alice at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2010

Beach Music by The Watchmen. For me, it's one of their sadder songs... makes me think of a very unhealthy relationship I was caught in for a very long time. YMMV.
posted by pookzilla at 5:19 PM on June 9, 2010

He's On The Beach by Kirsty MacColl
posted by nicwolff at 5:19 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ben Watt (of Everything But the Girl), North Marine Drive:
And I've been down to North Marine Drive
Where I have scratched our names in the sand
And watched the sea take them away
Two names scratched in every spray.
Also, the Marine Girls (with the other half of Everything But the Girl, Tracey Thorn), A Place in the Sun. A lot of their other songs are sad-beach-holiday themed, too, and there are other similar tracks on Tracey's first solo album, A Distant Shore.
posted by bcwinters at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2010

Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Doesn't explicitly mention it, but it was inspired by a girl who would walk past Jobim's local cafe to go to the beach. "Yes I would give my heart gladly / But each day, when she walks to the sea / She looks straight ahead, not at me"
posted by ista at 5:22 PM on June 9, 2010

Descendent's "Here with me" is a break up song that uses the beach as a scene
posted by oblio_one at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2010

The Sea by Morcheeba.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:28 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Ocean Breathes Salty" by Modest Mouse. One of my favorites, it's basically a discussion about religion.
posted by eralclare at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2010

Half Japanese's "Daytona Beach" tries to be a beach party song, but with the endearingly dorky Jad Fair it doesn't come out that way.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:38 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, on review, does not mention the beach, the song mostly just refers to the horizon.
posted by eralclare at 5:39 PM on June 9, 2010

New Order did an alternative (B side) to Blue Monday titled The Beach.
And there is Phillip Glass's Einstein On The Beach (no lyric of course). So not beach party music.
posted by artdrectr at 5:41 PM on June 9, 2010

Tom Waits, The Ocean Doesn't Want Me Today
posted by scody at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2010

Answering myself--there are lyrics to Einstein On The Beach.
posted by artdrectr at 5:50 PM on June 9, 2010

Feist's "The Eastern Shore." Linked at the bottom of this blog post.
posted by dizziest at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2010

All Saints - Pure Shores from The Beach soundtrack - not rainy but not really sunny party either. Give Ween's The Mollusk album a try? "Mollusk" and "Ocean Man" are the tracks that stand out in my head the most as possibilities.
posted by knile at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2010

A little bit of a stretch, but Crowded House's "Kare Kare" may work for you.

(There's also a Steriogram song of the same name that's maybe more on the "rock" end of things.)
posted by darksong at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2010

I included these tracks on a mix for a rainy weekend at the Oregon coast last winter:
King Crimson - Islands
Men at Work - Down By the Sea
Nick Drake - Strange Meeting II
Emmylou Harris - Shores of White Sand
David Sylvian - Waterfront
posted by prinado at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2010

Love is Lighter Than Air by the Magnetic Fields. It's a romantic beach (or more accurately a beach that represents romance) but not cheesy, I promise.
posted by phoenixy at 7:20 PM on June 9, 2010

Jane's Addiction - Ocean Size
posted by elizardbits at 8:22 PM on June 9, 2010

I've always had a soft spot for Hole's Malibu.
posted by washburn at 8:35 PM on June 9, 2010

"Down By the Seaside" by Led Zeppelin is dreamy and contemplative.

(It was inspired by Neil Young's "Down By the River", I think I read somewhere).

Donald Fagen's "On the Dunes" fits as well ("as you spoke, you must have known it was a kind of homicide. I stood and watched my happiness drift outward with the tide.")

Dunno if this brings a song within your description, but "The Beat" by Elvis Costello has the line, "We're all going on a summer holiday, vigilantes coming out to follow me. Heard somebody say they're out to collar me. Anybody wanna swallow me?"
posted by ibmcginty at 10:14 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Spill Canvas: The Tide
posted by spinto at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2010

"Sitting on the dock of the bay" by Otis Redding is a must mention.

Also, conceptually, "La Mer" by Nine Inch Nails would be rainy, rocky, chill. (I believe it was inspired by Big Sur, CA)
posted by kitsy at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2010

The Insiders, "Ghost on the Beach"

The Police, "Message in a Bottle"

Dire Straits, "Tunnel of Love"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:13 PM on June 10, 2010

Nagisa Ni Te: Me, on the beach
posted by creeky at 9:51 PM on June 10, 2010

Ah, wanted to come back in with this one, too, though it's about the sea rather than the beach. Nagat, Ana ba'shaq al-bahr (in Arabic: انا بعشق البحر by نجاة )
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:53 PM on June 11, 2010

Can't believe I forgot Mimi on the Beach.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:10 PM on June 22, 2010

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