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The Sea

[Sandy Denny]

Sandy Denny’s song The Sea was the most successful song on Fotheringay’s eponymous 1970 album, Fotheringay. The sea was later to be an important lyric symbol for Sandy Denny. This recording also appeared on the Island sampler Bumpers (1970), and on Sandy’ anthologies Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (1986), The Best of Sandy Denny (1987), No More Sad Refrains (2000), and A Boxful of Treasures (2004).

A demo of Sandy Denny singing The Sea, accompanying herself on guitar, a Fotheringay BBC Radio “Top Gear” performance recorded on 13 April 1970 and broadcast on 25 April 1970, and a Fotheringay live performance at Holland Pop Festival in Rotterdam on 28 June 1970 were included in 2015 on Fotheringay’s Universal anthology Nothing More.

A Fotheringay live performance at Grugahalle, Essen, Germany, on 23 October 1970 was included in 2011 on the concert recording Essen 1970.

Sandy recorded a live version of this song at her final concert in 1977, which was released in 1989 on The Attic Tracks Vol. 3 and in 1998 on Gold Dust: Live at the Royalty.

Vikki Clayton sang The Sea on the 1998 reissue of her album of Sandy’s songs, It Suits Me Well.

Linde Nijland sang The Sea on her 2003 album Linde Nijland sings Sandy Denny.

Bryony Holden sang The Sea on her 2013 Sandy Denny tribute Across the Purple Sky.

Josienne Clarke sang The Sea in a studio demo on her 2020 download album Historical Record Vol. 3 & 4—Learning to Sail. This video shows her singing The Sea on Ettrick Bay Beach on the Isle of Bute in November 2019. She was filmed by Alec Bowman:


Sandy Denny sings The Sea

Do I ever wonder? You don’t know.
You’ll never follow, and I’ll never show.
D’you see the water and watch it flow
And float an empty shell,
And you think that I’m hiding from the island.
You’ve a fault in your senses. Can you feel it now?

Time? What is that? I’ve no time to care.
I’ve lived for a long while nearly everywhere.
You will be taken, everyone, you ladies and you gentlemen.
Fall and listen with your ears upon the paving stone.
Is that what you hear? The coming of the sea?

Sea flows under your doors in London town.
And all your defences are all broken down.
You laugh at me on funny days, but mine’s the slight of hand.
Don’t you know I am a joker, a deceiver?
And I’m waiting for the land.

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