The Longest Johns – “Bones in the Ocean” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“The Bones in the Ocean” by The Longest Johns is a hauntingly beautiful song, echoing the lamentations of a sailor yearning for his fallen friends. The song unfolds a sailor’s internal struggle, illustrating his journey as he confronts the ghosts of his companions and the overwhelming sea. It’s about memories, loss, and the eternal search for peace and solace amidst the echoes of bygone laughter and songs of the sea. The sailor, grappling with his grief, explores the depths of his mind, questioning the presence and remembrance of the living and the dead, and presenting the listeners with a moving contemplation on life, death, and what lies beyond.

Tempted to unearth more about this song? Keep reading to dive into the layers of its story, explore the intricate tapestry of emotions weaved by the lyrics, and discover the compelling background of its creation!


“Bones in the Ocean” Lyrics Meaning

The song commences with the sailor bidding adieu to the land, searching for his long-lost comrades, and the place “where all sailors end.” This opening sets the tone of a journey filled with retrospection and metaphysical exploration. The sailor embarks on his quest with a sense of acceptance and resolution, not fearing the weather or the sea, but instead consumed by the memories of the fallen. He ponders if his fallen friends think of him as he does of them, reflecting a universal human desire for remembrance.

The mention of the “souls of the dead” filling the sailor’s mind and ears underlines the omnipresence of the departed in his thoughts and senses, a haunting persistence that steers his journey. The sea, in this case, symbolizes not just a physical entity but a metaphysical realm where the living and the dead converge, creating a harmonious continuity between life and afterlife.

The recurrent image of “bones in the ocean” encapsulates the eternal rest of his crew and symbolizes a form of immortalization within the deep abyss. It also reflects the sailor’s acknowledgment of his eventual fate, uniting with his companions in the eternal dance of the sea.

As the lyrics progress, a vivid juxtaposition arises between the sailor’s emotional turmoil and the perceived contentment of his shipmates. He sheds a tear for his terrestrial home, feeling the dichotomy between the struggles witnessed in their eyes and the joyous emancipation observed in their smiles. The underlying message resonates with the acceptance of one’s fate and the realization that life’s worth is not indebted to the dead, adding a philosophical depth to the song’s narrative.

The culmination of the song brings forth a resolution where the sailor decides to live the years left behind by his fallen mates, not abandoning the land entirely but continuing to gaze at the sea. This embodies a sense of reconciliation and acceptance, embracing the memories of the fallen and acknowledging their shared eternal existence in the ocean, binding them together beyond the confines of life and death.

The Story Behind “Bones in the Ocean”

Diving into the background of this song provides a clearer understanding of its depth and the emotional state of the writer. The song, steeped in profound emotions and metaphysical contemplations, seems to emerge from a place of loss and remembrance. The writer could possibly be exploring personal grief, using the sailor’s journey as a metaphor to navigate through the entangled emotions and questions that accompany loss.

The sailor’s confrontation with the ghosts of his companions and his pursuit of peace and solace mirror the writer’s own journey through grief and acceptance. The longing to join the crew in their songs of the sea may be symbolic of the writer’s yearning to reconnect with the departed, reflecting the universal human desire to be remembered and to remember.

The philosophical musings interwoven in the lyrics can be seen as the writer’s introspection about life, death, and existence. The struggle, acceptance, and eventual reconciliation depicted in the song align with the stages of grief, possibly hinting at the writer’s own experiences and reflections.

The nuanced portrayal of the sailor’s emotions and the vivid depiction of his journey reflect the writer’s thoughtful state of mind and deep contemplation on existential questions. The seamless blend of metaphors, emotions, and philosophical undertones in “Bones in the Ocean” not only contribute to its haunting beauty but also provide listeners with a rich tapestry of thoughts to unravel, making it a timeless piece resonating with the eternal human conditions of loss, love, and longing.