Sea of Love

“Sea of Love” by The National is a song about a person’s experience with love. The narrator compares a sea to love; people fall in love similarly to how people are swept by a wave, unexpectedly. People “slide into the sea” because they “can’t stay here anymore”, meaning that people fall in love because the loneliness is unbearable. The narrator specifically mentions a person named Joe and that he doesn’t want to be dragged down by her. Joe is supposedly a negative influence on the narrator as the narrator speaks in a condescending tone towards her.  The lyrics “What did Harvard teach you?” suggests that although Joe went to a prestigious college, she is not a very bright person. The narrator believes that her vices will cause the downfall of him. He thinks that if he stays with her trouble will find him and he’ll never be able to leave. In order to prevent trouble from finding him he must get away from Joe, however Joe has fallen in love with him. In the tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Laius is faced with a dilemma of either dying or killing his son. Similarly, the narrator in “Sea of Love” knows he must either break Joe’s heart and leave her or face the consequences of her negative influences.

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2 thoughts on “Sea of Love

  1. I enjoyed listening to the song while reading about your interpretation and analysis of it along with the comparison to Oedipus’ father making decisions with the narrator in the song. In Laius’ life, he made the decision to give away Oedipus, which ultimately brought Oedipus back to fulfill Apollo’s oracle. If the narrator’s life played out the same way as Laius’ and he left Joe, would that mean she would come back in a major way with her negative influence on him? I think it’s safe to say that if the narrator left Joe, she wouldn’t come back to him with her negative influences, but it’s interesting to go deeper into the comparison with “what ifs.”

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