Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Single of the Week - Pee Wee Herman

Pee Wee Herman - Surfin' Bird

When we do "Surfin' Bird," that song has an incredible effect on people. Even with an unresponsive crowd, when Lux starts that crazy "Papa Oom Mau Mau," some of the audience starts singing it, others are mouthng it silently and they start to look like they're in a trance. Then they all just bust loose, and it looks like a snakepit-like this writhing thing. This happens everywhere, in any country-it happened in Mexico. Language confines your experiences so much-maybe something gets released by letting out these nonsense sounds. Or maybe it's a particular sound or mantra that does it...Our version was the theme song of the Communist party radio program in Italy for several years!

-Ivy Rorschach of The Cramps

If aliens came down to Earth and asked me "what is this "rock-n-roll" that people keep talking about?" I'd play them the original version of "Surfin Bird" by The Trashmen. Well, it's not that original--it's based on "Bird's the Word" and "Papa Oom Mow Mow", both by The Rivingtons. But The Trashmen take it way, way out. As far as I'm concerned, it's the perfect rock-n-roll song: 3 minutes of crazy energy that you can dance to, a manic flurry of release. The fact that it's been covered by The Ramones AND The Cramps doesn't hurt its case either. And of course, you can add Pee Wee Herman to that list with this single, from the film Back to the Beach. It's actually a pretty fun movie, getting Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello back together to spoof their own Beach Party series. Aside from Paul Rubens' big scene, it has Fishbone backing up Annette, and Dick Dale dueling with Stevie Ray Vaughn on "Pipeline".


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