Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Los Muchachos de la Playa

Only in summer can you listen to the Beach Boys without fear of ostracism. That's because their music, which to many ears ranges from frivolous to mindless dreck (apologies to MTZ), is acceptable only when the sun is high and your mind is soft as it is in the summer – or anywhere south of Staten Island.

I had never really questioned authority on the frivolity of garçons de plage so I was surprised yesterday when I paid attention to the lyrics of one of my favorite melodies, Little Deuce Coupe, for the first time. It was way over my head. I didn't understand a thing! Even the title . . . what exactly is a deuce coupe anyway?

Check out these lyrics . . . not exactly Hanson:

Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill
But she'll walk a Thunderbird like she's standin' still
She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored.
She'll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored
She's my little deuce coupe
You don't know what I got

Ported and relieved? Flat head mill? Little deuce coupe, I don't know what you're talking about!

And that's not all. It goes on like this for a while:

She's got a competition clutch with the four on the floor
And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar
And if that ain't enough to make you flip your lid
There's one more thing, I got the pink slip daddy

Okay, I learned about the importance of pink slips only recently when I saw The Fast and the Furious, but "lake pipes?"

Perhaps I'm the last to notice but the Beach Boys originally wrote some great songs about cars before jumping on the surfer bandwagon.

You can tell Brian Wilson cared more about cars than surfing just by reading his lyrics. They're detailed and in the first person. In contrast, the surfer songs are all totally superficial and never mention actually surfing. Compare the above lyrics with South Bay Surfer:

Look out here come those South Bay surfers
California's gettin' hot
There they go cruisin' down that coastline
Lookin' for their favorite spot

Hell, this isn't so much about surfing as it is about looking for a decent parking space.

Too bad the Beach Boys sold out to surfing rather than held true to the hot rod genre that was their calling.

Who knows. Maybe Wilson wouldn’t have gone insane.

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