Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen – 1963
The sixties produced some great music, and is certainly one of the most influential decades in the history of sound… but then, in 1963 it also produced the once heard, never forgotten Surfin’ Bird, a song that has been kept alive in popular culture over the last few generations through film and television. Full Metal Jacket and Family Guy, I’m particularly looking at you.
I would say that it doesn’t sound like anything else, but of course it very much does, as it’s a cross-pollination of Papa Oom Mow Mow and The Bird’s The Word, both released by The Rivingtons the previous year, but neither of those versions have the anarchic and unhinged feel that this does.
Some purists may deny its application to even be considered a song, and there’s a valid argument for that opinion, because Surfin’ Bird is timeless nonsense at its very best. I won’t even pretend that the lyrics are anything other than complete jibberish. Surfin’ Bird is both genius and terrible at the same time, and I think if it was written and released today it would still be a big hit, as it parades that rare kind of fun and childish appeal that never really gets old.
If and when an alien ship crash-lands on Earth, I reckon Surfin’ Bird should be the first song we let them hear. If they decide to stay after that, well I guess they’re as nuts as we are.