Monday Night Music Byte

Lynnrockets recently watched the film Julie & Julia about a thirty year old New Yorker who decided to cook every dish in one of Julia Childs’ cookbooks and to blog about it. It was a novel idea so we decided to copy it. No, we will not be cooking in the usual sense (that could start a fire). Rather, we will adapt the recipe a day concept to our nightly music bytes. From now to infinity (didn’t somebody else coin that phrase?) we will post a music video and brief description of the artist or song in a sort of alphabetical order as culled from Tom Moon’s wonderful reference book, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (A Listener’s Life List). The book describes both whole albums (remember those) and individual songs from all music genres that are essential listening. Do yourselves a favor and purchase this book. Where the book deals with an individual song, we will post that song, but when an entire album is the subject, we will exercise judicial discretion and post a single song therefrom. So what do you say, let’s get cooking…


Dick Dale and his Del Tones         King Of The Surf Guitar – “Miserlou (1995)

The rapid-fire staccato blasts and careening slides that electrify these songs were not in the guitar vocabulary until a surfer kid of Polish and Lebanese descent, Richard Monsour, put them there. Monsour, rechristened Dick Dale by a music-biz impresario created the first surf-guitar instrumental in 1961 (“Let’s Go Trippin'”) and during the subsequent “craze” proved to be the key trailblazer in terms of tricks and techniques to make the guitar go zoom.

This collection begins with Dale’s early trailblazing singles, as well as adaptations that are far from surf music. Using half-step melodies and exotic Middle Eastern scales that he heard growing up, the guitarist and his band the Del-Tones, conjure a world where everything, even “Hava nagila” can be amped way up. Country fans won’t want to miss his treatment of “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky”, while anyone who loves a good chase should seek out “Miserlou”, Dale’s galloping masterpiece.


Posted on August 23, 2010, in Songs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ve always loved surf music.

    From NPR:
    HANSEN: So how did “Misirlou” find its way from the Middle East into the iconic sound of American surf guitar?

    (Soundbite of “Misirlou”)

    HANSEN: Dick Dale’s grandparents were born in Lebanon. As a child, he remembers hearing his relatives play “Misirlou,” which means “The Egyptian,” on the Middle Eastern lute called the ud.

    Mr. DICK DALE (Guitarist): And I would listen to them play it on the ud while I was playing on the darbukkah, the Arabic drum that you hold in your lap. It was actually played (imitates melody), like that, and the beat is (imitates beat). And they would come out dancing the belly dances, and the men would put money–dollars bills, 20-dollar bills, whatever–yeah, they would tuck it into their costumes, you know, the bras, the veils. And I had relatives that would dance these dances. So I started playing it on the guitar, and I was playing it that way on a single string in that rhythm.

    (Soundbite of “Misirlou”)

    Mr. DALE: And when I came to California and we opened up–reopened up the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach, California, which we later filled to the walls within 30 days by going from school to school and showing them what we did. So what happened was I’m standing there going (imitates guitar noise)–strumming–and this one little kid, he was probably about 10 years old. He looked up at me and he says, `Can you play something on a single string? Like, can you play a whole song just playing on a single string?’ So I said, `Come back tomorrow night, son. I’ll do something.’

    I had no idea what to do. So I went home and I laid down in bed and, boy, I just about cried myself to sleep because I says, `Oh, my God. Everyone’s going to find out that I’m a big fake.’ And I said to myself, `What could I do?’ And I picked up the guitar and I started playing the only thing I could think of, “Misirlou,” and I played it at that slow beat. So that night I said, `You know, it’s too slow. It’s not exciting like this kid wants.’ And so what happens is I started doing it as if I was playing drums (imitates guitar sound)–one, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. That’s the turnaround that you would do on a drum. So I was doing that with the pick, so I just started going faster and faster. I went (imitates melody)–and I was doing that.
    And then I goes, `Well, wait a minute. Do it faster. Go (imitates guitar sound).’ So (imitates guitar sound)–like that. And I went (imitates “Misirlou” melody). And that got the kid all excited and they went crazy.

    HANSEN: And the rest is pop music history. You can hear excerpts from several versions of “Misirlou” on our Web site, (Soundbite of “Misirlou”)

    Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio

  2. Thanks for the interview. I had guessed that Misirlou might have been a girlfriend- perhaps a miserable Peggy Sue!

  3. I was lucky enough to see Dick Dale play at the Phoenix some years back. He played the trumpet part of Miserlou himself.

    I recommend the Bambi Molesters to you.

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