Surfin Bird – surfploitation or high art?

Surfing Bird

The song Surfin’ Bird always pops into my head as I watch a gull ride the updraft in front of a wave. Where is it from and what does it represent?

It was a hybrid of 2 RnB songs first recorded as a novelty single by The Trashmen (from landlocked Minneapolis) in 1963. This toe-curling film and interview indicates it was pure surfploitation.

At least the next band to cover it, The Ramones, actually lived somewhere surfable and treated as a pukka surf punk song, clocking in at a respectable 2 minutes 31 seconds. High Art.

However, the version I hum is by The Cramps which degenerates into slop before reforming into a beautiful wall of sound ready to shred. Sublime.

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  • Exotic location
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  • Surrealism
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