I just finished watching the sexy 1989 thriller Sea of Love that I picked up from the library. The title intrigued me, and it was a VHS. My DVD player is broken, so I’ve been renting VHS tapes. Well, the movie was a gem; if you haven’t seen it, you should. More appropriately, the film piqued my curiosity about the song it was named after, “Sea of Love”.
The song was written by Phil Phillips and George Khoury and, in 1959, Phillips’ version of the song charted at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and #2 on the Billboard top 100. It’s had several reincarnations. In 1981, ’60s rocker Del Shannon took the tune to #33 on the Top 40. In 1983, the Honeydrippers (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck et al) launched their version to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Since those early ’80s covers of “Sea of Love” topped the charts, “Sea of Love” has come in to the hands of two less mainstream artists who have made it their own for respective soundtracks. Tom Waits covered it specifically for the aforementioned Sea of Love film. Indie crooner Cat Power played it as part of her 2000 album The Covers Record and her version was catapulted into the pop culture zeitgeist on the Juno film soundtrack.
Here are the different versions of the song in chronological order.