Singing and Surfing and Remembering and Not Remembering, In Reverse Order

The Second Occasional Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event is coming up in Port Townsend on July 11. I’ve been working on several things for it. One item is music. For the first event, Archie Endo, now stuck in Thailand, working, some surfing, brought a little amp, played surf music. Great idea (his), and really added to the evening. This time, Pete Raab is putting together a sort of mixed tape from his huge music collection, with classic surf instrumentals and some island-themed ‘ambient’ music. Thanks, Pete.

My evil scheme was to have Pete (and he was willing) sneak two of my original surf songs without informing event curator Keith Darrock. That’s the evil part.  I originally recorded the only two strictly surf-related songs I’ve written at a former Theater in Quilcene (right on Surf Route 101) with the help of longtime professional sound engineer Tom Brown of HearHere, with me playing harmonica and singing. Pete was doing a surf music show on the Port Townsend radio station, 91.9, KPTZ, along with his old friend, and former music store owner, Ron McElroy, and graciously incorporated one of my tunes, “I Just Wanna Go Surfin’.” The other song is “Surf Route 101.” Naturally.

But, here’s the failure: Pete couldn’t find his copy, I couldn’t find mine (and searched frantically), and Tom Brown, after checking, determined the digital recording is somewhere on a dead computer.

Oh, and although I’m willing to read the piece I’ve been doing more thinking about that working on, concerning the images and memories we save, I won’t perform music live at this event. A sigh of relief might be appropriate here. Not that I’m embarrassed by my harp playing or the lyrics…

But, thinking about music, and singing, I wrote to my old friend Ray. You have to read it bottom to top. I do think it was him with the Monkees tape.

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NO way, I never owned a Monkeys tape, you must have me confused with somebody else I swear.

From: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:28 AM
To: Ray Hicks

Ray, have a good time on vacation. I checked back before leaving; glad to see a response. I’ll be working until dark anyway (9ish). I do remember you once telling me that the best song ever done was the Cream song…. wait, was it ‘white room with white curtains at the station,’ or, no, I think that was it.  Otherwise, “driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy’s when I play my guitar.” Join in anytime. Now I better go. And, hey, that was probably enough gas to get home, to school, wherever… See you, Erwin
I am pressed for time, so I might use this on my site, not mentioning that you had a Monkees tape, or that I liked some of their songs also.

From: “Ray Hicks”
To: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:14:06 AM

HI Erwin,

Not in Hawaii yet. Today is my last day before starting vacation but we don’t leave until Thursday. I’ve never been much on lyrics, to this day I hear the voice as another instrument rather than a method of delivering poetry or storytelling.  My loss according to Carol. I do remember the ‘fruit of the vine’ song though. The music that brings back surf memories to me is Cream. When I hear some of those songs I am taken back to driving down the coast highway cruising by the camp grounds in South Carlsbad with an eight track player under the dash. I listen to the Sirius radio classic stations now and hear that music all of the time. Occasionally I’m driving down the coast highway when I’m So Glad comes on the radio and it really takes me back. I also hear the Doors often and still love it. Other than classic rock I listen to the blues. I just love the B B King channel on Sirius Radio.

I remember one occasion of us surfing at Swami’s  then coming up starving and thirsty, buying something to eat at the liquor store in the middle of Encinitas then buying gas for your Morris Minor in Carlsbad with the left over change. Maybe 26 or 27 cents worth.

The only music I associate with Phillip is Jethro Tull because he introduced me to them, still one of my favorites.

Ray

From: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:08 AM
To: Ray Hicks
Ray,
not sure if you’re in Hawaii right now. I almost called you yesterday. I’m working on a thing for the surf culture event on surfing images we keep in our memory banks. The idea is, if we think of surfing as something magical, and we can conjure these (I was originally thinking only visual) images, allowing us to ‘mind surf’ when we can’t actually surf; this is kind of magical.
That got me thinking that my memories of my high school surfing adventures include fewer actual surfing images (maybe because I seem to concentrate on my own surfing rather than noticing that of others) than images of you and Phillip and the other assorted characters going to or from the beach, hanging out around various fires. Mostly pleasant memories, maybe with five of us in the back of a CHP cruiser less pleasant, but, overall, good images. Jeez, we were going to, at, or coming home from surfing.
So, as I was driving an hour to a job, I started thinking about songs we used to sing cruising around town or going surfing. Maybe we were in cars (like mine) that didn’t have radios; maybe we had only AM radios with the pop stations the best we could get.  This line of thinking might have been helped along because the local Port Townsend radio station played the Doors cover of the song with the lyrics, “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar; oh, don’t ask why…” followed by something about “Whiskey, let me go home.” A theme, evidently; and I was trying to remember the song that seemed to be one of Phillip’s favorites, without much luck. A few miles later I pulled (from the brain archives) out a few lines. “Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine; when you gonna let me get sober? Leave me alone, let me go home, let me go home and start over.” It took a few more miles before I remembered, “Pain in my head, there’s bugs in my bed, my pants are so old that they shine; out on the street, I tell the people I meet, to buy me a bottle of wine.”
I’m not even sure if those lyrics are fit together correctly. Perhaps you remember. Oh, and my singing hasn’t improved a bit. If we were going surfing together and I started singing, I’m sure you’d still reach for the radio control knob, whether the radio works or not.
The other, and real point of the thing I’m working on is that if we keep trying to remember, we keep the connections straighter, and if we keep surfing, we’re always refreshing our image files. More to conjure.
Writing this actually helps in writing the real piece, keeps me away from a couple of peripherals.
I’m in the usual summer position of too much work, not enough time, and no rain in sight. Luckily, perhaps, the waves are really small. Hopefully you’ve managed to slide a few. See you, Erwin

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Tom Paxton wrote the “Bottle of Wine” song, but we probably heard the version by the Kingston Trio. White people. Oh, but, when we sang it, it was  sort of another contest, who could sing it with the most soul, raspiest voice… you know, another thing to compete in. Guess who usually won? And that’s why someone (else) always reached for the radio control knob. Oh, and maybe it was someone else with the Monkees tape. hey, hey!

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