Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue

"Ocean Avenue" is a title song from the Yellowcard's fourth studio album, released in 2003.


Story behind the song

There's a popular belief, that this is just a love song, but lead guitarist Benjamin Harper in a 2004 interview with The Boston Phoenix admitted that the actual object of the song is nostalgia for Jacksonville, which the group left behind when they relocated to California a few years before.

It's this place where we used to hang out in Jacksonville. Instead of talking about a girl, it's talking about a scene and a feeling that we want to get back to: hanging out and writing, before we moved to California. [1]

In fact, the street is named Ocean Boulevard, but Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key changed it to Ocean Avenue for the rhyme with the word "you." [2]

Bassist Peter Mosely was simultaneously assisting Yellowcard with writing and recording bass guitar for the album "Ocean Avenue" but announced that he left on February 15, 2003. Yellowcard recruited the bassist Alex Lewis instead. Shortly after, Mosely changed his mind and asked if he could join the band as their permanent bassist. Because Mosely had been an integral part of the writing for Ocean Avenue and had been friends with most of the band's members since high school, Lewis was asked to leave and Mosely became a full-time band member again on March 1, 2004. That's why there are only 4 Yellowcard members in the credits of the album.

"Ocean Avenue" back cover.

Music videos

Official music video

The official music video was directed by Marc Webb, who also worked with Green Day and AFI. [1]

The music video depicts Ryan Key meeting his death in different ways before starting over again in a time loop. All scenarios begin with Key rising from the pavement surrounded by broken glass. Every time he awakens, you can see a serial number on his jacket. Key repeatedly sprinted through the streets of Los Angeles, being pursued by villains, played by violinist Sean Mackin and drummer Longineu Parsons, while trying to track down a mysterious suitcase. [3]

The suitcase is decorated with a lamb symbol. The same symbol appears in the video for Brand New's "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades," which was also directed by Marc Webb. The suitcase with the same sign is shown again in the video for Yellowcard's "Rough Landing, Holly," which is a sequel to "Ocean Avenue" video. [3]

Marc Webb lamb symbol

"Ocean Avenue" is the last music video with Alex Lewis as the band's bassist.

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The video became a Total Request Live favorite on MTV and later received the MTV2 Award in 2004.

Acoustic version

On August 13, 2013, the band released the album "Ocean Avenue Acoustic" in honor of the original album's 10th anniversary.

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Live version

This song is considered to be the most popular song by Yellowcard, so it's a staple of their live performances.

Peter Mosely's first appearance since his return to the band was on Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 3, 2004.

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Live at Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 3, 2004.

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Acoustic version of the song from 2004 AOL Session.

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Live at Rock am Ring 2015.

"Ocean Avenue" became the last song played live before the band's final breakup in 2017.

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Notable covers

Tyler Ward & Jada Facer covered this song in 2017.

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Gear and settings


Ryan Key

In the official video, Ryan Key plays black Gibson Les Paul Studio 60's tribute with P-90 pickups and white pickguard.

For the live performances, he also used other models of Gibson Les Paul.

Benjamin Harper

Benjamin Harper also used Gibson Les Pauls.

Peter Mosely

Peter Mosely used Fender Precision Basses for recording and live performances.


Sean Mackin

Sean Mackin used his electric Zeta Violin. [4]

Amps and effects

Ryan Key and Ben Eric Harper

Ryan Key and Ben Eric Harper both used Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Amp Heads with Mesa Boogie 4x12 cabs.

Peter Mosely

He used Ampeg SVT Classic amp head with Ampeg 6x10" cab.

Amp settings

  • Gain - 3
  • Treble - 7
  • Mids - 6
  • Bass - 3


Guitars: drop D tuning (D A D G B E).

Bass: drop D tuning (D A D G).

Song key

The song is written in the key of G flat minor.


The song is mostly based on double stops and power chords, though, there are several arpeggio parts. Double stops are always palm-muted.

The violin part appears in choruses and in the outro. Alternatively, this line can be imitated by an electric guitar line with legato techniques.

Song breakdown

The song has the following structure:

Intro - Verse 1 - Verse 2 - Chorus 1 - Interlude 1 - Verse 3 - Chorus 2 - Interlude 2 - Bridge - Chorus 3 - Outro

The intro starts with palm-muted double stops, played by the rhythm guitar.

The same progression repeats for the first and second verses, with the addition of the lead guitar lick with slides at the end of each verse. Also, the third guitar part appears at the end of the second verse, which is close to the lead guitar part but has several differences.

In choruses, both guitars play power chords. Note, that in the middle of choruses and at the end of the second one there are lead guitar progressions, consisting of octave power chords.

The first interlude repeats patterns from the end of the first verse.

In the third verse, the lead guitar performs a single-note riff on the 4th string with the addition of the lick from the second verse.

The second interlude and the bridge are based on the lead guitar's arpeggios with hammer-ons and rhythm guitar's octave power chords.

Power chords are also used in the short outro.

Song breakdown by Yellowcard

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Guitar tutorial with tabs

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Guitar cover with violin parts

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Bass cover

"Ocean Avenue" is in Drop D, but this cover is in standard tuning because Peter Mosely actually hits the low D string at the very end of the song, so it's possible to play this note an octave up instead.

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  1. 1 2 The Boston Phoenix "'Yellowcard and Story of the Year stick with their suburban roots' by Sean Richardson"
  2. Ernie Ball Youtube channel "Yellowcard - "Ocean Avenue" Guitar Breakdown with Ernie Ball"
  3. 1 2 "Yellowcard's 'Rough Landing' Clip Lands Ryan Key On The Operating Table"
  4. PureGrainAudio "Gear Review: Yellowcard violinist Sean Mackin on His Classical and Zeta Electric Violins"