Sunday, March 14, 2010

How to play Sea Of Love by Phil Phillips (or Cat Power)

I finally got around to learning one of my favorite songs, Sea of Love by Phil Phillips. This is a classic song that has been covered recently and famously by Cat Power off the Juno soundtrack, but has survived through covers for over 5 decades now.

Among the most famous covers:
* The Honeydrippers where it was a #3 hit song,
* Tom Waits for the movie Sea of Love
* Most mullet-y version ever by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page
* On the uke by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (ok so that one's not famous)
* By several youtubers on the uke, including this nice one
* Here's the full list of cover versions

So yeah, it's an awesome song and everyone knows it. Here's my video tutorial for it, with more detail below.



Video Breakdown:

00:00 Intro
00:26 Tuning (GCEA standard tuning)
00:31 Chords (Bb, D7, Eb, C7)
02:14 Strumming pattern - 8 beat loop: down, miss, down, up, miss, miss, down (harder), up (soft)
03:34 Slow strumming and chord changes
04:53 Full speed demo with words (slight mistake in lyrics... oops!)

Sea of Love Tuning

The ukulele should be in the key of C, which is standard GCEA tuning. I am playing with a concert ukulele, and the GCEA tuning is standard for most soprano and tenor ukes as well. If you are playing with a baritone uke, it may be tuned in G (DGBE) in which case your chords would look different.

Sea of Love Chords

This song has just 4 chords: B flat (Bb), D7, E flat (Eb), and C7. One thing that adds challenge to this as a ukulele song is that each of these are bar chords, which are difficult for the beginner. This is a great song to play to practice your bar chords.

The four chords are played in a loop in that order, each for the same amount of time.

*If you arent ready for bar chords, you can play the song in a different key using the chords G, B7, C, and A7 which are much easier for the beginner uke player.

Sea of Love Strumming Pattern

Strumming patterns are always a bit difficult to nail down, especially on a song that has had so many covers and versions and wasn't originally played on a ukulele or even a guitar. The real key to this song is the lyrics and the melody, so the strumming takes a bit of a backseat. In the original Phil Phillips version, they use a classic 1950s arpeggio, whereas in the Cat Power version they do a much more simple instrumental version with basic strumming.

Having said that, I will offer my own strumming pattern but I encourage you to experiment and see what sounds best to you. The song loops on 8 beats, where each beat is an up or a down strum:

1) strum down with emphasis
2) miss up
3) strum down
4) strum up
5) miss down
6) miss up (or strum very lightly)
7) strum down (harder)
8) strum up lightly
Switch chords and repeat.

Sea of Love full chords with lyrics:

Intro: Bb D7 Eb C7

Bb
Come with me
D7
My love
Eb
To the sea
C7
The sea of love

Bb D7
I want to tell you
Eb
how much
C7
I love you

Bb D7 Eb C7

Bb
Do you remember
D7
When we met
Eb
That's the day
C7
I knew you were my pet

Bb D7
I wanna tell you
Eb
how much
C7
I love you

Bb D7 Eb C7

Bb
Come with me
D7
My love
Eb
To the sea
C7
The sea of love

Bb D7
I wanna tell you
Eb
How much
C7
I love you

Bb D7 Eb C7 x2

End on Bb

15 Comments:

Christian said...

Dude! Awesome!

ukenerd said...

Thanks for this friend— It was a real treat!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you!!

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I'd like to play this classic song because it's something different, Sea of Love by Phil Phillips is great song I had never heard it but now I LOVE IT.M10M

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ukulele for beginners said...

Very good tutorial and write up. I didn't know the song name, but realized when you started singing that I had heard the song before. Great job!

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S.W.N.T said...

thank you! just discovered your blog- what a goldmine. will be practicing this one

Scalzza said...

This is my favorite song too.I sing it in every vacantion with my friends.Costylica

Anonymous said...

Hey man, great video, but why wouldn't you use the easier fingering of the Eb with the first finger of fret 1 on the A string and third finger holding down the third fret on the C and E, cuz that leaves your first finger already on the much easier C7 chord (which is first finger on the first fret of the A string)...just a suggestion

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