This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Norma, the Assistant Musicologist suggested the title. She thinks that inflation has taken its toll over the years and instead of six we have 10. That's fortunate, as that's the number of tracks we have today.
In the late fifties and early sixties there was a craze for surf music. Well, this wasn't universal; it was pretty much confined to the east coast of Australia, particularly Sydney, and the west coast of America, particularly Los Angeles.
Pretty much all the music today will come from those two cities, and from that time (with a couple of outliers).
When you hear surf music, pretty much the first name that will come into your brain is the BEACH BOYS.
Naturally they'd have to be present but selecting a song of theirs is a bit difficult as there so many of them. In the end I decided on one of their early ones, Surfer Girl.
Although they made quite a few records, THE SURFARIS are best known these days for just two of them.
One of them is the instrumental Wipe Out, probably the quintessential surfer tune. The other is the one we're interested in today, Surfer Joe (which was on the flip side of the single of Wipe Out).
If you know the song, the version today might come as a surprise. It's a longer version than was on that record, there are several extra verses.
BARRY MANN was a songwriter from the time of most of these, usually with his wife Cynthia Weil.
He recorded some of their songs as well. These were usually rather tongue in cheek (remember Who Put the Bomp?), and this one is no exception. It is Johnny Surfboard.
LITTLE PATTIE had a huge hit in Australia when she was only 15 years old. She was the biggest thing in the country at the time (a little irony there, as she's not very tall, under five foot in American measurements, thus the name).
For those who are into rock & roll trivia, Pattie's name is Patricia Amphlett and she is a cousin of the late great Chrissie Amphlett, head honcho (honcha? honchess?) of The Divinyls.
Anyway, Pattie's song is (takes a deep breath) He's My Blond Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy.
After the Beach Boys, JAN & DEAN are the group most synonymous with this music.
It's not too surprising as they often sang on Beach Boys' records at the time and vice versa. I listened to quite a bit of their music but I always came back to the obvious song, Surf City. Sounds just like the Beach Boys.
A lot of surf music was purely instrumental. I've mostly left those out of the mix today but there's one performer who deserves his place in the sun (and the surf).
Some say he invented the genre of surf guitar music. Some may be right. I give you DICK DALE.
Dick plays several instruments and he claims his style developed because he started out playing the tarabaki, a Lebanese drum.
As a kid he developed his style, a mixture of rhythm and lead playing so he could do everything himself. It was hugely influential on later guitarists.
Dick plays Surf Beat. He once played with a group called The Del-Tones, no relation to the next item.
THE DELLTONES formed in Australia back in 1958 and are still going strong (with one original member still present).
They were originally a DooWop group but later morphed into a fully fledged band. Their biggest success was in the sixties where they had several songs up at the pointy end of the charts, and these days they are one the most entertaining live acts around.
One of their hits from back then is Hangin' Five.
Just so you won't be bored with all the surfing music (which, I must admit, has caused my eyes to glaze over), here's a bit of change of pace. It's included purely because of the title (and also because the male singer is – or was – an Australian).
The group, really just a duo, is TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON.
Their song is Couch Surfing with a Family of Six, a song about their family (well, duh).
Okay, you might think that the songs so far aren't very classy, so now we are going to raise the stakes to a considerable degree. This next one could even be classified as classical music. It's about as high class as is possible in this genre.
This is up there with Bach and Mozart. I give you THE TRASHMEN and Surfin' Bird.
This really is the zenith, the acme, the ne plus ultra of musical culture of the 20th century.
The final song didn't come from the time period of most of the other songs today. It's quite recent and isn't really in the same genre but it amused me enough to include it. The performer is JIMMY BUFFETT.
He says that Einstein Was a Surfer. He's not the only one to make that connection; Philip Glass wrote an opera called Einstein on the Beach. I don't think Philip mentions Einstein surfing though, not in the parts I've listened to.