Depth Catherine Elms word of the year

For the last few weeks I’ve been building a playlist to go along with my word of the year for 2017, depth. The songs I chose have a general theme of “deep water”, and also reflect some of the themes associated with the word depth, including depth of feelings, thoughtfulness, intensity, inner strength, and a focus on the bigger picture rather than superficial aspects of life.

1. Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea – MISSIO

“The sweet surrender of silence forces me to live alone
Locked and loaded, where the hell is peace of mind?
I wait inside the bottom of the deep blue sea”


2. Depth of My Soul – Thievery Corporation

“You don’t know the depths of my soul…”

3. Dolphin – Poe

“When I dive into that ocean
God I hope I don’t sink like a stone – no
I’m gonna move like a dolphin”

This is a lovely song that uses the dolphin/ocean imagery to explore the need to adapt to new and scary situations with grace. Poe is such an underrated musician!

4. The Sea – Morcheeba

“I’d love to stay
The city calls me home
More hassles fuss and lies on the phone
I left my soul there, down by the sea…”

5. Oceania – Bjork

“You show me continents – I see islands
You count the centuries – I blink my eyes
Your sweat is salty – I am why”

In Bjork’s own words, “The song is written from the point of view of the ocean that surrounds all the land and watches over the humans to see how they are doing after millions of years of evolution. It sees no borders, different races or religion.” Kelis recorded a gorgeous duet version of this song where she sings from the perspective of the continents, which you can check out here!

6. Swim Deep – The Sea

“Go down to the sea
And tell me what it is that you wanna be”

7. We Float – PJ Harvey

“We just kinda lost our way
We were looking to be free
But one day
We’ll float
Take life as it comes”

8. Swim – Jack’s Mannequin

“I swim to brighter days despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water, I’m not giving in – I swim”

A song about the importance to keep going through difficult times, in hope of a brighter day. Everything I’ve ever achieved has been a painful awkward struggle, and I relate to the image of choking on salt water to stay afloat – bitter and ugly, but necessary.

9. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse

“The ocean breathes salty, won’t you carry it in?
In your head, in your mouth, in your soul”

10. Sink or Swim – Pentimento

“So do I sink or swim?
I’m drowning in the “what ifs” and “could have beens” “

A song about the struggle to sink or swim – to give in and let one’s hopelessness drag you down to the depths, or to fight to keep swimming. The song opens with the line “I am an inconvenient thing”, which I relate to so hard.

11. Young As the Morning, Old As the Sea – Passenger

“I wanna be free as the winds that blow past me
Clear as the air that I breath
To be young as the morning
And old as the sea”

I don’t like this singing style at all, but the lyrics are beautiful so I can kindof breeze past it. I read these lyrics as someone longing for depth of living and to experience that which is greater than their limited human lifespan – rather than being confined, dulled, and fleeting.

12. Deep Water – Portishead

“I’m drifting in deep water
Alone with my self-doubting, again
Try not to struggle this time
For I will weather the storm”

Short, sweet, and entirely capsulates the general theme of this playlist!

13. Rain – Pretty Balanced

“Rain in the gutter and a toy boat capsizes
As a sailboat capsizes in the ocean
Things are silent sitting in the basement here
We’re spinning too fast to feel the motion”

This is a beautiful song about how everything in the world is connected and interdependent – for every hurt, there is joy; for every death, there is life. The piano work is superbly well-written, and feels like rain pattering on a pavement.

14. Blue Lips – Regina Spektor

“Blue lips, blue veins
Blue, the colour of our planet from far far away
Blue, the most human colour”

A lyrically challenging and complex song, I love the imagery of life, death, and humanity in the chorus lines above.

15. Liquid Diamonds – Tori Amos

“There’s a sea secret in me
It’s plain to see, and it is rising…”

16. Deep Sea Diver – Bat For Lashes

“Baby, let your hair down
It’s time to get enchanted
You’re a deep sea diver
Tides are turning in your favour”

17. I Follow Rivers – Marika Hackman (Lykke Li cover)

“Why not always
Be the ocean
Where I unravel?”

18. Hello Earth – Kate Bush

“Deep. Deep. Somewhere in the darkness, there is a light…”

The second half of Kate Bush’s album ‘Hounds of Love’ is a concept suite titled ‘The Ninth Wave’, which tells the story of a woman adrift at sea, drowning, waiting to be rescued. This is the penultimate song, where the woman hallucinates herself floating in space watching the world beneath her, watching the storm that almost drowned her form in the earth’s atmosphere.

19. The Pool – Tori Amos

“One with her hands
Don’t be afraid…”

I know I’m committing kindof a mixtape faux pas by having multiple songs by the same artist, but I couldn’t resist – this song is so fluid and mystical and haunting.

20. Nightswimming – REM

“Nightswimming deserves a quiet night…
These things, they go away, replaced by everyday…”

I love the circular piano part, like a wave lapping against a shore (or a poolside) over and over again.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify here:


mermaid depths shallow living

One more thing: if you listen to music on Spotify, there’s a small thing you can do that will be a big help to me: FOLLOW me there! Once I get to 250 followers, Spotify will verify my account, which opens up lots of possibilities for my music. If you have a second, please click “follow” below – it’ll be a huge help


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