surf music

Top 5 surf songs: What’s your favorite?

Surfing and music go together like wine and cheese, Laverne and Shirley or Germany and trying to take over Europe. From Dick Dale to the Beach Boys to the Agent Orange, surf music kind of began in the 1960s and then died in the 80s. Of course it didn’t really die, as many bands of the original genre have continued, but I don’t know if there have been any significant developments since those days. Man or Astro-man maybe?

A recent article for the Guardian has asked readers to recommend songs about the coast. The article highlights the song West Coast by Lana del Rey, which is nice enough, though she sounds like she’s eating a peanut butter sandwich during the verses.

Anyway the Guardian piece got me thinking about surf music and how I can only really identify 3 kinds: The early harmony-rich sounds of the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean; the instrumental surf rock of the Ventures and Dick Dale; and 80s surf punk like, well… the Surf Punks. So I thought I’d do a little research and then list a few of my favorite examples of what I might consider surf music from across the ages.

JFA — Beach Blanket Bong Out: The title is a hardcore parody of the silly 1965 film Beach Blanket Bingo, but it just reminds me of surfing and skating in the mid 1980s.

The Beach Boys — Good Vibrations: A typical choice maybe, but this “pocket symphony” is the band’s best song and perhaps the best surf music ever created. It’s one of those rare tracks I can call a “perfect song”.

Jane’s Addiction — Ocean Size: Are they surf music? I think this song qualifies as music for hard-rocking punky surfers and as a bonus it’s got a video with the band’s singer, Perry Farrell, surfing.

Dick Dale and the Deltones — Misirlou: This surf song classic had a bit of a revival via Pulp Fiction, but it’s actually a surfed up version of a Greek rebetiko song going as far back as 1927.

The Astronauts — Baja: In my opinion the coolest, weirdest of the original surf songs. Covered by many, but the best-known version is by the Astronauts from 1963.

Like the list? Hate it? What are some of your favorite examples of surf music?

Lead image by Yoshihito ISOMURA (Flickr CC)

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