So it’s the end of the week and I am, like many of you, wiped out. There are good things happening (rehearsing for two big shows in Nashville while simultaneously writing the book) and there are some inconvenient things happening (waking up on Wednesday to find that a small wound on the dog’s back had opened and bled all over the white bed linens, which I couldn’t immediately wash because our well was filled with dirt and the water would have turned the white sheets brown while ruining the washing machine) and there are some worrying things happening (a dear friend waiting for biopsy results). But there is no rest for the wicked or the weary or whatever that phrase is, and I needed motivation.
What better energizer could there be than the song “Wipe Out”? And while researching the song I found out one of those invaluable facts that we all need to know, especially those of us who tend to discard our second or third thoughts, or dismiss those creative endeavors that develop “too” quickly. According to Wikipedia (and what better resource do you need?), The Surfaris — Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Fuller and Ron Wilson — wrote “Wipe Out” almost in one sitting as a suitable B-side for the intended “Surfer Joe” single, which graced the A-side (remember 45s, with the A side and the B side?). In late 1962, while the band was recording “Wipe Out”, one of the band members suggested that they emulate a sound indicating a surfing wipe out. During the introduction before the music starts, listeners hear a cracking sound, imitating a breaking surfboard, followed by a manic voice babbling, “ha ha ha ha ha, wipe out.” The spoken voice at the song’s beginning is the voice of the band’s manager, Dale Smallin.
“Wipe Out”, the afterthought track on the B-side, spent four months on the national Billboard chart in the autumn of 1963, reaching #2, just behind Stevie Wonder’s #1 hit “Fingertips”. The smash hit returned to the Hot 100 in 1966, reaching #16 in Billboard and #9 in Cash Box in its second national chart run, landing at #63 on the Year-end chart. This time it is said to have sold around 700,000 copies in the US to add to its original million-plus. Ron Wilson’s drum solo for “Wipe Out” (a sped-up version of his Charter Oak High School marching band’s drum cadence — creative material is everywhere!) was beaten out on tables nationwide, making the song one of the best-remembered instrumental tunes of the period. “Wipe Out”, in 1970, peaked at number 10 in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
Meanwhile, the original A-side “Surfer Joe”, sung by Ron Wilson, only attracted airplay in the wake of “Wipe Out”‘s success, and peaked at #62 during its six-week run.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere. In the meantime, enjoy the music. Got a favorite tune that picks you up? Please share!
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