Surfin’ USA

thIUXQS2X5  Download    It’s summer, at last, and that brings the Beach Boys into your set list.  I was never a huge fan – always thought there were just too many layers of vocals and sounded more like a barbershop quartet on steroids to me.  But they are rock’n’roll icons and represent a better side of the music industry.  Long live the Beach Boys!

They formed their band in 1961 in Hawthorne, California at the beginning of the “California Sound” – music that reflected a southern California youth culture of surf, romance, and cars.  Their sound was simple and pretty straightforward at first, but then Brian Wilson started experimenting with vocal overdubs in the studio and the song “Surfin’ USA” emerged as a result of that tinkering – heavy on the vocals and harmonies while the instrumentation became secondary.   Just a few more guitar and organ tracks would have made me a happy camper, Brian.

I had fun putting this song together – especially the organ solo in the middle.  They used a Hammond B3 (cumbersome) in the studio, but went with a Farfisa when on the road (much easier to haul around).  And I had to use every choir and “ooohh” voice sound I had – just to get that “Beach Boy” effect.  Sorry about the clarinet as the lead vocal, but you’ll cut that anyway.  So, if you’re doing any beach gigs this year you might use these backups for at least one Beach Boy tune…. in between the Jimmy Buffett.

Beach jobs are my personal favorite.  I remember one summer playing so close to the surf we could feel the spray.  Then there was the salty air and the bikinis and the breeze and bikinis and the sun and … did I mention bikinis?  ‘Course, at that time my lead singer was my wife, so I had to pretend the bikinis weren’t there……. but they were.

(Pop/Rock List)


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