According to former guitarist Ben Harper, “Ocean Avenue” is written about Long Beach, CA. “It’s this place where we used to hang out in LB. 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, when we moved to California.”
“Ocean Avenue” was released to radio on December 16, 2003. It was released in February 2004 as the second single from the album Ocean Avenue. The song is notable for having launched the band into the mainstream, receiving numerous spins on MTV and heavy crossover airplay on alternative and mainstream radio. It was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA.
The title and lyrics refer to a street in Jacksonville, Florida, the band’s original stomping grounds. The street is in close proximity to the band’s high school, the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, as well as another street mentioned in the song, Cherry Street, in Neptune Beach.
The music video depicts frontman Ryan Key facing his fate in different ways before starting over again using a time loop device (similar to that of the film Run Lola Run), each scenario beginning with Key waking face down on the sidewalk surrounded by broken glass, and ending with his fateful encounter with a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1.