The Songs of Summer #17: Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen
The Trashmen were a 4-piece rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1963 they recorded a song that I know you all know. They recorded quite a few songs, but this song is the one that made them famous. Maybe even infamous. It’s really the only song of theirs that was ever popular, reaching as high as #4 on the Billboard Top 100 charts in ’63.
I could go into a detailed history of the band and the song, but sometimes the song just needs to speak for itself. I’ll tell you this much: Someone in the band had the idea, the brilliant idea, to take two songs from R&B band The Rivingtons, ‘The Bird’s the Word” and “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ and mash them together. The result is just over two and a half minutes of musical delirium that kick-started rock music back to life a year before The Beatles.
I could label ‘Surfin’ Bird’ a lot of things. It’s considered a frat/novelty classic, but it’s much more than that. I consider it to be the finest surf track ever. The finest garage rock track ever. The best regurgitation breakdown in any song ever. The first punk song ever. I’d go so far as to call it one of the greatest tracks of any genre ever put down on wax. This song makes bad moods vanish immediately.
In an age where pop music is concocted in a laboratory and performed by computers to glossed-over perfection, the unhinged, ripsnorting berserkery of Surfin’ Bird reminds us that sonic perfection can be achieved by 4 kids in a garage.
I’m gonna cut it off here. There’s nothing more to say about this classic song. There’s nothing more to be said about Surfin’ Bird. No summer playlist of mine will ever be without it. If you disagree that it’s one of mankind’s highest musical achievements, I will fight you. The Bird is the Word.
BONUS!!! Here are the two Rivingtons songs that The Trashmen immortalized in Surfin’ Bird. SO DAMN GOOD.
The Bird’s the Word:
Papa Oom Mow Mow: