|Released July 1959|
Genre Rhythm and blues
Label Mercury Records
"Sea of Love" is a song written by Philip Baptiste (better known as Phil Phillips) and George Khoury. Phillips' 1959 recording of the song peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became a gold record. It was the only top-40 chart song for Phillips, who never recorded another hit. In the UK, Marty Wilde covered the song, his version peaked at No. 3, and Phillips' version failed to chart there.
The song has been covered by a number of artists since then, most notably by The Honeydrippers, whose version (from the album The Honeydrippers: Volume One) reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1985 and No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart in 1984. "Sea of Love" made the Top 40 one other time, when Del Shannon took it to No. 33 in 1981.
Tom Waits gave the song a darker twist for the soundtrack to Harold Becker's film of the same name in 1989, and Waits included it on his 2006 collection Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. Cat Power covered the song in 2000 and her version was featured in the movie Juno.
Baptiste, who was working as a bellboy in Lake Charles, Louisiana, wrote "Sea of Love" for a love interest. He was introduced to local record producer George Khoury, who brought Baptiste into his studio to record the song. At Khoury's request, Baptiste took the stage name of Phil Phillips. The song, originally credited to Phil Phillips with The Twilights, was released on a small record label owned by Khoury, but due to its success was eventually leased to Mercury Records. Despite the song's success, Phillips claims that he has only ever received US$6,800 for recording it.
Phillips' original lyric "Do you remember when we met, that's the day I knew you were my pet," the word "pet" being an innocuous endearment in 1959, allowed the song to be twisted into a tale of submission by Power, Iggy Pop, and especially Waits. The Honeydrippers version changed the lyric to "I knew you were mine," thus eliminating any such interpretation.