When the waves are going off, like really going off, I always have the same song in my head. It’s not a song I ever, ever listen to or sing while on land. Actually, I don’t really know the words. It’s more like playing air guitar. I’m paddling out, huge waves slamming me. Then out in the line-up, waiting for the set, sitting on my board headbanging – and I’m not a headbanger. I don’t know exactly what my connection with the song is, and frankly I lean more punk rock when opting for pumping up the adrenaline before going out on a big day. It’s kinda a vengeful song, from what I know. Maybe I’m getting agro about the longboarders. Maybe the rippers are doing that thing where they paddle up to me, say “hi”, while maneuvering that one foot deeper and taking the wave I’ve been waiting for – “Yeah, hi fugger!” But usually, I think it’s when I’m just so excited, there’s so much energy out there, and it is like the ocean is the rippling effect of intense roar and rage and exhilaration; Ozzy going off live in front of a stadium crowd: Ba da, ba da da, badabadabadababadada. I Am Ironman!!!
I wonder if Kelly Slater ever finds himself hummin’ that lil’ diddy while scoring Backdoor with the boys? Better that tune then some of the ridiculous ones that burrow their way into my mind, like on weird goofy days with time between sets. For one long period (which I hope has passed), it was the negro slave romp “Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t care, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t care, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t CAAARRREEE, my master’s gone a-way!” Now what does that have to do with surfing? I have no idea what it even means! When where why how would that song ever come to mind in my day-to-day life, nevermind while surfing?
I even get nursery rhymes some times. Does that only happen to girls? Well, a guy wouldn’t admit it if it happened to them anyway…. It’s usually a sunny day. A little bit sleepy. The rolling movement of the water rocking me like a baby I suppose. What’s most embarrassing is when you realize you’re singing aloud.
Songs that equate female empowerment enter in and out of my limited rotation. YeahYeahYeahs singer is trying hard to penetrate. I had an awful rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae‘s “Girl Put Your Records On” going for a while there. You know, the freedom a young girl feels, alone her room, dancing to her own tunes – finding herself someway, somehow…. Perchance the mood relates to the ever increasing number of surfin’ wahines; their independence, their strength, their finding themselves out there, in the water…. Girl put your surf wax on, shred to your favorite song, go ahead let your hair down….
When my friend Christine paddles out, it’s impossible to ignore the song with her namesake. She’s a blond hottie surfer mom – presumably the absolute antithesis of the “Christine” in the lyrics (supposedly a woman suffering from D.I.D.). You know, “Christine, the strawberry girl, Christine, banana-split lady… Now she’s in purple, now she’s the turtle… disintegrating… Christine…”. I have met Siouxsie Sioux (of Siouxsie and the Banshees – the song’s creator) on a number of occasions. One thing about Siouxsie is that she lives up to her goth-queen moniker, including the fact that she is practically deathly afraid of the sun. I recall on one of her visits to Los Angeles, my friends took her to the beach. When I heard that, I couldn’t stop laughing, because logically it would seem the last place on earth you would bring her! She complained about it and its effects on her pearly white skin ’til her concert started that night! So all that to say, singing to her lyrics while basking in the equator-strong sun is kind of a contradiction of credence. Perhaps the sea turtle -who are in large number where we surf- is some symbolic clue as to an abstruse water connection….
The past few weeks, I’ve really worried myself. Too many 2-4 foot days in a row. The kind where it’s hard to keep oneself entertained, I mean, after the prerequisite morning spiel, “Oh, it’s so beautiful today… so glassy… water feels so nice…” (which it is most of the days here, and what I love is that no one seems to take it for granted!). Those are the kind of days you end up shouting and laughing and cheering people on just to keep yourself pumped. And then, without warning, this weird bad dance club “Ooooowuuh oooooowuh” comes out of my mouth. Huh? What was that?! “Ooooowuh Oooowuh!” Oh, no, I did it again. Sometimes mixed in with an embarrassing gyro dance move that should have been banned along with the Macarena. I know Laird would never do that out in the water…never!
My ex used to blast Eminem to amp up (though perhaps he didn’t need much help in that department). I like Afghan Whigs‘ “66″ whenever I drive to or from the beach. Butthole Surfers‘ “Summer in the City” certainly ranks. Sometimes Babyshambles‘ “Fuck Forever” sources my ocean relationship. The Strokes and Killers and Mando Diao and Raconteurs can even be mutable on the right day. Weezer‘s more surf than bubblegum pop “Surf Wax America” should become a classic pre-session tune (“Island in the Sun” for the longboard days). Fugazi‘s “Waiting Room” continues to facilitate sentimental angst. Operation Ivy, Rancid or Offspring and other pop-punk loud when you’re gonna be competing with da shredders. Even the Adolescents and that era So. Cal hardcore still does it for me. There’s always the requisite Jack or Pepper or Matisyahu or Sublime or Spearhead or Groundnation or any Marley or even Jawaiian to calibrate the flowing water vibe…. (Shhh, yes, sometimes a peaceful silence works as well or the simple sound of crashing waves).
Though there is a great history of surf music (classic and otherwise), these aren’t the songs that end up in extended remix on my internal iPod. And since it resides somewhere similar to the realm of wayward dreams, I fear I may never be able to control the click wheel of my mind. So ultimately, I must look forward to the cherry days that are double over-head not only because they’re so dang fun, but because I would certainly rather be hearing anything Black Sabbath than “Jimmy Crack Corn” while going for a heavy airdrop over the reef. Ba da, ba da da, badabadabadababadada! Siiiiick!
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