How Deep Is the Ocean?

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"How Deep Is the Ocean " is a popular song written by Irving Berlin in 1932, and can be heard in the background of the 1933 film The Life of Jimmy Dolan. The song was introduced by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra with vocals by Jack Fulton.

The song was written at a low point in Berlin's professional and personal life, and is among the select few of his numbers introduced on the radio rather than onstage or in film. The song is a series of questions posed in succession to one another, with the only exception being the second line, "I'll tell you no lie."[1]


Sortable table
Date Main recording artist Featured vocalists
(or instrumental)
Album title, notes
1933 Bing Crosby Bing Crosby Crosby Classics, Columbia compilation from 1949
1938 Judy Garland Judy Garland First recorded on NBC radio show Good News of 1938, aired May 5.[2] Beyond a few more broadcasts, she never recorded the song for an album release
1941 Benny Goodman Peggy Lee Volume II: Clarinet à la King from 1987 or other compilations
1943 Coleman Hawkins and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Classic Tenors, orig. 10 inch shellac (on Signature)
1945 Dick Haymes with Lyn Murray Orchestra Dick Haymes The Best of Dick Haymes e.g.
1945 Artie Shaw Hal Stevens Artie Shaw, compilation by Archive of Folk & Jazz Music. There are probably older versions recorded by Shaw
1947 Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lennie Tristano, Billy Bauer, et al. (Instrumental) Lullaby in Rhythm, rarest radio broadcast, bebob versus cool
1947 Charlie Parker Quintet Feat. J.J. Johnson (Instrumental) Charlie Parker on Dial, Vol. 6
1950 Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye Sammy Kaye "Blue Skies", 7 inch EP, rel. around 1950-52. Reissued on RCA compilation LP This Is Lenny Kaye (1972)
1950 Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Music of Irving Berlin
1950s Paul Weston and His Orchestra (Instrumental) "How Deep Is the Ocean", 10 inch shellac
1951 Lee Wiley Lee Wiley Night in Manhattan
1952 Miles Davis All Stars (Instrumental) Young Man with a Horn, 10" LP, reissued as Miles Davis Volume 1. The song is rec. by Davis with only the rhythm section.
1952 Stan Getz (Instrumental) The Artistry of Stan Getz, Columbia 7 and 10 inch, a.k.a. Stan Getz Plays on Verve (December 29)
1953 Eddie Fisher with Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra Eddie Fisher First(?) recorded at Manhattan Center, N.Y.C., on February 26
1954 Billie Holiday Billie Holiday Billie Holiday, with Charlie Shavers and Oscar Peterson
1954 Harry James and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Trumpet After Midnight, date is of first LP release
1954 Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Limited Edition, Volume Two, an early exclusive compilation, song's recording date has to be earlier
1954 Johnny Otis Band The Sultans "Good Thing Baby", obscure doo-wop group[3] accompanied by Otis. Rel. only as single B-side.
1955 Tal Farlow (Instrumental) The Interpretations Of..., reissued as Fascinatin' Rhythm - The Guitar Artistry Of...
1955 Jackie Gleason (Instrumental) Jackie Gleason Presents Lonesome Echo, 10 inch that reached No. 1 in the Billboard 200 chart
1955 Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (Instrumental) Soft and Sweet
1956 Sonny Criss (Instrumental) Go Man!
1956 Billy Daniels, Russ Case and His Orchestra Billy Daniels Around That Time...
1956 Harry Edison and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Sweets a.k.a. Walking with Sweets, (Instrumental) version, with Ben Webster et al.
1956 Julie London Julie London Lonely Girl (Mono. Stereo version rel. 1959)
1956 Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, John Lewis et al. (Instrumental) Modern Jazz Sextet, produced by Norman Granz, reissued as Dizzy Meets Sonny, Cross Currents et al.
1956 Cecil Payne (Instrumental) Patterns of Jazz, first rel. as Quartet and Quintet
1957 Pat Boone Pat Boone Pat Boone Sings Irving Berlin
1957 Billy Daniels Billy Daniels Mr. Black Magic (Gene Norman Presents Bill Daniels at the Crescendo), live recording with a Bill Payne on piano
1957 Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook
1957 The Ink Spots The Ink Spots The Ink Spots in Hi-Fi - The recording date has to be earlier than 1957, the release date of the compilation
1957 Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, John Coltrane, Zoot Sims (Instrumental) Tenor Conclave
1957 Modern Jazz Quartet (Instrumental) The Modern Jazz Quartet, the song is part of an extensive medley
1957 Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra Billy Vaughn Music for the Golden Hours (Mono. Stereo version rel. 1959)
1958 Connee Boswell Connee Boswell Connee Boswell Sings Irving Berlin - A Golden Anniversary Tribute
1958 Ornette Coleman (Instrumental) Coleman Classics Volume 1, the legendary Quartet plus Paul Bley
1958 Vic Damone Vic Damone Closer Than a Kiss, with Orchestra conducted by Frank De Vol
1958 Connie Francis Connie Francis Who's Sorry Now?
1958 Stan Kenton (Instrumental) The Ballad Style of Stan Kenton
1958 Shirley Scott (Instrumental) Scottie
1958 Kirby Stone Four Kirby Stone Four Hold Tight!, 7 inch EP
1959 The Isley Brothers The Isley Brothers Shout!
1959 Willis Jackson (Instrumental) Cool "Gator"
1959 Ben Webster & Oscar Peterson (Instrumental) Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson
1960 The Three Suns (Instrumental) Love in the Afternoon
1959 Teddy Wilson Trio (Instrumental) These Tunes Remind Me of You
1960 Miss Toni Fisher Toni Fisher "How Deep Is the Ocean", released only as single A-side
1960 Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Dancing in Wonderland
1960 Machito and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Irving Berlin in Latin America
1960 Anna Moffo Anna Moffo Anna Moffo Sings Berlin
1960 Don Shirley (Instrumental) Pianist Extraordinary, released in 1962
1960 Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra Nice 'n' Easy
1960 Rita Reys Rita Reys Marriage in Modern Jazz
1961 Bill Evans Trio (Instrumental) Explorations
1961 Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye
1962 Walt Dickerson (Instrumental) To My Queen, with Andrew Hill on piano
1962 Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin
1962 Al Hirt (Instrumental) Trumpet and Strings with arrangements by Marty Paich. The album peaked #96 in the Billboard 200 chart.[4]
1962 Clifford Jordan Quartet (Instrumental) Bearcat
1962 Brenda Lee Brenda Lee Sincerely, Brenda Lee
1962 Enoch Light and His Orchestra (Instrumental) Enoch Light and His Orchestra At Carnegie Hall Play Irving Berlin
1962 Blue Mitchell (Instrumental) The Cup Bearers
1962 Keely Smith Keely Smith Released only as single B-side of "Confidential"
1963 Don Friedman Trio (Instrumental) Live, released in 1971
1963 Jimmy Scott Jimmy Scott Falling in Love Is Wonderful, song arranged by Gerald Wilson
1963 Kate Smith Kate Smith Kate Smith at Carnegie Hall
1964 Erroll Garner (Instrumental) Now Playing, a.k.a. A Night at the Movies
1964 The Nashville Teens The Nashville Teens Tobacco Road , with an acoustic beat version
1966 Ruby & the Romantics Ruby & the Romantics (Greatest Hits Album)
1967 Ray Charles Ray Charles Ray Charles Invites You to Listen
1967 The John Klemmer Quartets (Instrumental) Involvement, Klemmer's debut album
1967 Ben Webster (Instrumental) Big Ben Time!, a.k.a. Remember Ben Webster
1968 The Good Earth Trio How Deep Is the Ocean, probably never re-released
1968 Los Indios Tabajaras (Instrumental) In a Sentimental Mood
1969 Bill Evans Trio (Instrumental) Jazzhouse, live recording, released 1987
1973 Duke Jordan (Instrumental) Flight to Denmark
1974 Les Paul & Mary Ford Mary Ford The World Is Still Waiting for the Sunrise
1973 George Shearing (Instrumental) My Ship
1976 Dexter Gordon (Instrumental) True Blue
1977 Chet Baker Chet Baker The Best Thing for You, with Paul Desmond and Tony Williams. Released 1989
1978 Chet Baker (Instrumental)? In Paris Vol. II , live recording, released 1990
1978 Doug Raney Quintet (Instrumental) Cuttin' Loose
1978 John Haley Sims & Harry Sweets Edison (Instrumental) Just Friends
1979 Chet Baker (Instrumental)? Broken Wing
1979 Stéphane Grappelli, Joe Pass & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (Instrumental) Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark, live recording. Pass and NHØP rec. also a duo version there (Northsea Nights)
1979 Tom Jones Tom Jones Do You Take This Man
1979 Jimmy Rowles (Instrumental)? Isfahan
1980 Archie Shepp & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (Instrumental) Looking at Bird
1981 Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers (Instrumental) Straight Ahead, live recording with Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Watson
1982 Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers (Instrumental) Art Blakey in Sweden, another live rec. with identical line-up
1982 Chet Baker Trio (Instrumental)? This Is Always
1982 Chet Baker Trio Feat. Philip Catherine (Instrumental) Chet's Choice
1984 Duke Jordan Trio (Instrumental) Tivoli Two
1985 Sheila Jordan & Harvie Swartz Sheila Jordan Old Time Feeling
1982 Mal Waldron (Instrumental) One Entrance, Many Exits, with Joe Henderson
1986 Warne Marsh (Instrumental) A Ballad Album
1985 Chet Baker & Paul Bley (Instrumental) Diane
1986 Chet Baker Chet Baker Sings Again
1986 John Handy Quartet (Instrumental) Excursion in Blue
1986 Cecil Payne Quartet (Instrumental) Casbah
1987 Julie Andrews Julie Andrews Love Julie
1987 Michael Feinstein Michael Feinstein Remember: Michael Feinstein Sings Irving Berlin
1987 Liza Minnelli Liza Minnelli At Carnegie Hall, concert concept by Fred Ebb and arrangements by Marvin Hamlisch
1988 Frank Morgan and McCoy Tyner (Instrumental) Major Changes
1988 McCoy Tyner (Instrumental) Revelations, piano solo recording
1989 Anthony Braxton (Instrumental) Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions 1989 - For Warne Marsh
1989 Joe Pass (Instrumental) All Across the City, a quartet version
1989 Laurent de Wilde (Instrumental) Odd and Blue
1990 Jacques Pelzer (Instrumental) Never Let Me Go, with Barney Wilen, Michel Graillier, Bart De Nolf and Micheline Pelzer
1991 Chick Corea Akoustic Band (Instrumental) Alive
1991 Paul Motian (Instrumental) On Broadway Volume 3, with Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and Charlie Haden
1991 John Taylor Trio (Instrumental) Blue Glass, live recording
1992 Franck Amsallem (Instrumental) Out a Day
1992 Joe Pass (Instrumental) Meditation, solo live recording
1992 Bill Watrous (Instrumental) Bone-ified, live recording
1992 Clusone 3 (Instrumental) Soft Lights and Sweet Music (Clusone 3 are Ernst Reijseger, Michael Moore and Han Bennink)
1993 Sheena Easton Sheena Easton No Strings
1993 Susannah McCorkle Susannah McCorkle From Bessie to Brazil
1993 The Swingle Singers The Swingle Singers Notability
1994 Etta James Etta James Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday
1995 Azimuth (Instrumental) How It Was Then ... Never Again, version arranged by Kenny Wheeler
1996 Allan Holdsworth (Instrumental) None Too Soon
1996 Vigleik Storaas Quartet (Instrumental) Open Excursions
1997 Anthony Braxton (Instrumental) Quintet (Tristano) 1997, released on his own label in 2012
1997 Joe Lovano & Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Instrumental) Flying Colors
1997 Diana Krall Diana Krall Love Scenes
1997 Marion Montgomery Marion Montgomery That Lady from Natchez
1998 Joshua Redman (Instrumental) Timeless Tales (For Changing Times)
1999 Kurt Rosenwinkel (Instrumental) Intuit
1999 Mathilde Santing and The Oversoul 13 Mathilde Santing To Others to One
2000 Marc Copland, John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler (Instrumental) That's for Sure
2000 Lee Konitz with Alan Broadbent (Instrumental) More Live-Lee, live recording, released 2004
2002 Roy Haynes (Instrumental) Love Letters, Trio recording with Kenny Barron
2002 John Taylor Trio (Instrumental) Rosslyn
2005 Maude Maggart Maude Maggart With Sweet Despair - Haggart also ran a cabaret show as tribut to Irving Berlin the following year.
2005 Kate McGarry Kate McGarry Mercy Streets
2008 Stevie Holland Stevie Holland Before Love Has Gone
2008 Susie Arioli Susie Arioli Arioli
2010 Eric Clapton Eric Clapton Clapton
2010 Barry Manilow Barry Manilow The Greatest Love Songs of All Time
2011 Andy LaVerne & John Abercrombie (Instrumental) Live from New York
2011 Ellery Eskelin (Instrumental) Trio New York (A dedication to his mother)
2011 Kjersti Stubø Quartet Feat. MiNensemblet Kjersti Stubø How High Is the Sky
2012 Jason Gould Jason Gould Jason Gould
2014 Barbra Streisand Barbra Streisand Partners, a duet with her son Jason Gould
2014 Franck Amsallem Franck Amsallem Franck Amsallem Sings Vol. II


  1. ^ Wilson, Jeremy. "How Deep Is the Ocean? (How High Is the Sky?)". Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Cf. fansite "Judy Garland Database"
  3. ^ How Deep Is the Ocean? discography at Discogs
  4. ^ Al Hirt, Trumpet and Strings Retrieved April 8, 2013.

See also[edit]