Jan and Dean Sidewalk Surfin’

jan-and-dean

Jan and Dean’s 1964 song Sidewalk Surfin’ is pretty much the first skatesploitation song. I haven’t actually researched that, Doc Skaterock probably knows for sure. It’s easily the most famous one. As a young lad I remember buying a cutout Jan & Dean greatest hits compilation on cassette tape just because of this song. Before we were exposed to the larger world of punk rock and skate rock, we actually used to derive a bit of stoke from this cheesy tune, and later on would bust it out for a laugh and some nostalgia.

These 45 sleeves were available on Ebay for a handful of bucks. I neglected to adequately read the auction description and was surprised to get an empty sleeve without a 45. Fortunately, the plain single of Sidewalk Surfin’ b/w When it’s Over in a generic sleeve are abundant and cheap on Ebay as well.

jan-and-dean-sidewalk-surfin

jan-and-dean-sidewalk-surfin-back

I don’t usually publish unsolicited material, but since I haven’t been updating S&A regularly I thought I would run this piece on Sidewalk Surfin’ sent in by Beatle Bob.


Jan and Dean’s Sidewalk Surfin’ by Beatle Bob.

This hot trend of skateboarding in the 60s amongst teenagers did not go unnoticed among the rock & roll crowd. Looking for another unusual sporting craze to turn into a musical trend after surfing, Jan & Dean’s Jan Berry hit upon skateboarding, which was a relatively new phenomenon in the early ’60s. However, after trying to unsuccessfully come up with a song on the subject himself, he remembered The Beach Boys’ song, “Catch A Wave.” He asked the original writers of the song, Brian Wilson and Roger “Hot Dog Rog” Christian, to re-tool it for him, and the result was “Sidewalk Surfin,'” which was essentially, “Catch A Wave,” with different lyrics that referred to skateboarding. Jan & Dean recorded it in an arrangement that aped that of The Beach Boy’s original with some skateboarding sound effects.

“Sidewalk Surfin'” entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at #83 on Halloween, October 31, 1964, and would peak at #25. To hear and see Jan & Dean performing “Sidewalk Surfin'” watch the video below. It’s from their performance on Dick Clark’s Saturday afternoon teen rock & roll ABC show American Bandstand.

And also watch the other video clip to hear the same song. This time it’s a live performance from the movie many consider the greatest rock ‘n roll live concert film of all time: The T.A.M.I. Show; which Jan Dean had the honor of MCeeing. (Editor’s Note: Featured before on S&A)

On the T.A.M.I. show, 1964.

Below are the lyrics to Jan & Dean’s “Sidewalk Surfin.'” There are bracketed numbers next to some of the lyrics for some of phrases that are used in skateboarding. For you “poledads” who don’t know the sidewalk surfin’ lingo, there is a glossary just below the lyrics that explains everything.

“Sidewalk Surfin’

Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me…

Don’t be afraid to try the newest sport around
(Bust your buns {1}, bust your buns now.)
It’s catchin’ on in every city and town.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.
You can do the tricks the surfers do
Just try a “Quasimodo” {2) or “The Coffin” {3} too.
(Why don’t you), grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

You”ll probably wipeout when,
You first try to shoot the curve.
(Bust your buns, bust your buns now.)
Takin’ gas {4} in a bush takes a lotta of nerve.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, oow-wa, ooo-wa.)
Those hopscotch poledads {5} and pedestrians, too,
Will bug ya, shout “Cuyabunga!” {6}
Now, and skate right on through.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

{Instrumental break.}

(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.)

You can do the tricks the surfers do,
Just try the “Quasimodo” or “The Coffin” too.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

So get your girl and take your tandem {7} down the street.
(Bust your buns, bust your buns now.)
Then she’ll know you’re an asphalt athlete.
(Ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa, ooo-wa.)
A downhill grade, now, will give you a kick,
But if the sidewalks cracked, you better pull out quick.
(Why don’t you) grab your board,
And go sidewalk surfin’ with me.

(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)
Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me.
(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)
{Fade}
Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin’ with me.
(Skateboard with me, why don’t you skateboard with me?)

Glossary:
{1} Since sidewalk surfers were riding skateboards on pavement, there was a possibility of “busting ones buns,” if they wiped out.
{2} A “Quasimodo” (named after the Hunchback of Notre Dame character), was a maneuver where one bent over on the board with a hunched back.
{3} Doing “The Coffin” is to lie on ones back, arms folded, eyes closed and ride the surfboard in.
{4} “Taking gas” mean to wipe out.
{5} Poledad is a term used by skateboarders that describes someone, especially pedestrians, who annoy them, or get in their way.
{6} The surfing battle cry, Cuyabunga, is just a slight variation of the more familiar, Cowabunga.
{7} Tandem skateboarding is pulling another person on a skateboard along with you.

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