When I lived in SF, I used to hula hoop in my bedroom to the Velvet Underground "Quine Tapes Bootleg Series" (https://youtu.be/WI7x2LBDzlY). I also taught myself to play drums by drumming along to the "VU compilation album," Moe Tucker was my teacher, and I loved loved loved her drumming on "Ocean!" I learned every tom hit every cymbal hit, she really embodied the ocean crashing in, it's my favorite version of this track.
I started covering this song when I lived in my loft in Brooklyn. I learned the 1969 version, and the lyrics the best I could. I remember playing it and thinking, damn I like my version better than the original, it's spookier! When we went to record it I had to decipher Lou's cryptic lyrics, and I actually reached out to a few Velvet-heads (Kelley Stoltz!) to see if there was any kind of consensus about what he was saying, and what it might have meant. I really relate to the way he would change lyrics on the fly, rewriting songs many times over the years...it was like they were old friends that he would revisit now and then.
After recording all the music (that's our producer Dan Goodwin playing reverse guitar at the beginning), it wasn't until the last vocal take, where I got really close to the mic and basically whispered the vocals for the first verse that it all started to gel. This song is like a nesting doll, its scope goes from small...like a grain of sand, to giant waves crashing on a cliff...Dan really nailed that wall of sound at the end, I think there are 10 guitar tracks.
I love ending the song, and the record, with this line "Here come the ocean, and the wave." It could be a wave of fear, or success, but its coming no matter what, so you have to accept it. I wish Lou could have heard this version!!