How Deep Is the Ocean?

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"How Deep Is the Ocean " is a popular song written by Irving Berlin in 1932. The song was developed from an earlier Berlin song "To My Mammy" which was sung by Al Jolson in his film Mammy (1930). In the earlier song, the lyrics include the questions "How deep is the ocean? / How high is the sky?" and this was the genesis of "How Deep Is the Ocean?".[1]


The song was written at a low point in Berlin's professional and personal life, and is among the select few of his numbers that were introduced on the radio rather than on stage or film. The song is a series of questions posed one after another, the only exception being the second line, "I'll tell you no lie." This song, together with "Say It Isn't So", were huge hits in 1932 and brought Berlin back to the top again.

Early recordings[edit]

Popular versions of "How Deep Is the Ocean?" in 1932 were by Guy Lombardo (vocal by Carmen Lombardo), Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (with vocals by Jack Fulton), Rudy Vallée and Ethel Merman.[2] Bing Crosby was another who recorded the song for Brunswick on October 14, 1932.[3] In the 1940s Alfredo Antonini and his orchestra collaborated with Victoria Cordova and John Serry Sr. to record the song for Muzak.[4]

Dutch composer Pierre Courbois wrote a song based on the chords of "How Deep Is The Ocean" called "OPAQUE" and recorded it on CD.

Other recordings[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bergreen, Laurence (1990). As Thousands Cheer - The Life of Irving Berlin. New York: Viking Penguin. pp. 287, 306. ISBN 0-340-53486-9.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 511. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  3. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Victoria Cordova & The Alfredo Antonini Orchestra performing "How Deep Is the Ocean for Muzak (circa 1949) as archived at the Library of Congress Online Catalog at]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  6. ^ Al Hirt, Trumpet and Strings Retrieved April 8, 2013.