The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Rev Jules'

13

The ‘Encyclopaedia of Surfing’ by Matt Warshaw spends an entire entry attempting to define soul surfing before quoting Sam George who once wrote that, we're all soul surfers. And so there's no such thing as soul surfing” which is not a lot of help really. Briefly though, soul surfing encompasses any approach to surfing that sees it as not just a pursuit that is physically good for you but one that is also mentally and spiritually positive as well. Soul surfers tend to stand in opposition to the idea of competitive surfing and also the idea that you can and should earn money from surfing. Some soul surfers get involved in environmental protection projects or are drawn to Christianity and there is even an organisation called Christian Surfers who play an important role in the Irish surfing community. So with that in mind, here are seven suggestions for tracks to listen to when you are trying to reach a higher place through surfing.

 

'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison

“If I venture in the slipstream / between the viaducts of your dreams”; perhaps the most enigmatic opening line of any song in Irish popular music. It doesn’t matter how many times you listen to it, you never really get a handle on what Van is singing about, but who cares anyway, it still sounds brilliant. That’s why he is Van The Man and not Van A Man.

 

'People Get Ready' by The Frames

Glen Hansard once said that he wrote this one after reading the Book of Luke in a hotel room. If The Frames were to perish tomorrow in a freak plane accident this could easily stand as their masterpiece. Drawing inspiration from both ‘Venus in Furs’ and the old gospel classic of the same title, this song is the nearest anyone is going to get to a Spiritual in post Catholic Ireland. “We have all the love in the world to set alight”. Amen.

 

'Acoustic Motorbike' by Luka Bloom

Luka Bloom headed out one day on his mountain bike whilst he was staying in Kerry and this song is the result. Lines dealing with the bucolic pleasures of the Irish landscape, "The Kerry mountains or the Wicklow hills / The antidote to my emotional ills", are blended with an environmental message, all set to a heady acoustic groove.

 

'Light and Day / Reach for the Sun' by The Polyphonic Spree

It’s arguable that if the Polyphonic Spree didn’t exist that there might not be an Arcade Fire either and its interesting that David Bowie worked with both of them. Musical collectives are all the rage now but this group broke the mould. Never mind that this track is now used as the background for Jamie Oliver’s awful Tesco adverts, it is still a wonderful, uplifting piece of music.

 

'Waiting for the Great Leap Forward' by Billy Bragg

If surfing is still a counter culture movement, and I doubt it given the number of 4WDs parked in Strandhill on any given weekend, then this tune by Billy Bragg is a veritable manifesto for sticking it to The Man; as Bragg sings in the closing minutes, “If you’ve got a blacklist I want to be on it”.


'Doin’ The Things That We Want To' by Lou Reed

According to Victor Bockris, Bob Dylan once confessed that he wished he had written this song. Lou Reed takes his personal admiration for the artistry of Sam Shepard and Martin Scorsese as the starting point for a hymn to the importance of art in your life, “I wrote this song ‘cos I’d like to shake your hand / In a way you guys are the best friends I ever had”

 

'Everybody Else' by The Blue Nile

There is something about the music of The Blue Nile and Paul Buchanan that is just so damn uplifting despite the often downbeat lyrics. This jaunty tune from the ‘High’ album is typical as Paul sings, “I don’t want to be everybody else / So when we going to be ourselves”, a truly sublime song and one that is perfect to listen to as you walk along by the ocean early on a sunny morning.


 


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12

Rudd is, along with Jack Johnson and Donanvon Frankenreiter, one of the foremost practitioners of contemporary surf pop. Rudd hails from Australia and is, like Jack and Don, both an adept surfer and an expert guitarist. His songs have an ecological or spiritual bent and sometimes employ that much derided antipodean instrument the didgeridoo to great effect. Rudd played Whelans last year to an audience of ex pat Aussies and those paddies who had spent a year out down under but, with the release of his new album’ Food In The Belly’ over here by Anti Records, it won’t be long before he gains a wider Irish audience. ‘Messages’ is a fine example of his style, a foot stomping guitar riff over which Rudd lays a lyric concerned with both the ecological future of our planet and the state of our own souls.


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10
When Pearl Jam released their debut album 'Ten' in 1991, few realised that half the songs on the track listing had been composed in the water by Eddie Vedder during various surf sessions. Since then Vedder has been sure to punch up his surfer credentials and, to be fair, when his surf buddy is eight time ASP World Champion Kelly 'Because I'm worth it' Slater he is certainly entitled to, or is he? Recently "welcomed into the inner circle" of the North Shore mafia during the 2006 winter season on Oahu, an iconic monochrome photograph of the pair, boards under arm, striding towards the ocean's edge was published in the March 2007 edition of Surfing Magazine.

So what's the big deal I hear you ask ? Well, as surfing has marched towards the mainstream two critical things have happened. Firstly, this movement has coincided with a shift by the big surf companies from focusing on their practical products such as boards, wetsuits and rashvests to focusing on their lifestyle products such as t-shirts, jackets and wallets; all by promoting the 'idea' of surfing as a sunkissed, beach based idyll populated by perfectly bronzed uber babes and dudes. The result is the rise of the 'Surfanista', a person who wears branded surfwear but does not practice the sport itself and may not even live anywhere near the ocean either. Nothing illustrates the rise and influence of the Surfanista better than the recently opened Quiksilver Outlet store just outside Kildare which is like a glorified TK Max. Here you can buy any array of clothing with the logo of Kelly Slater's main sponsor emblazoned on them but you cannot buy the surfboards that hang overhead from the ceiling since they are for decorative purposes only. It's as if the merchandise now had its own line of merchandise.

Secondly, as more people learn about the sport of surfing in Ireland and decide to have a go themselves, tensions have started to develop at the main breaks around the country, one particularly ugly example being the shortboarder out on the right hand side of The Dumps in Kerry last weekend snarling and shouting at other surfers, many of them veterans, who were out for a mellow session. I myself was surfing elsewhere so I avoided the grief but if you are reading this pal, I don't care how well you surf, you are still a bonafide asshole and you have no birthright to the waves.

All of which is to say that a tension is developing in surfing whereby people are encouraged to buy into the fantasy lifestyle of surfing through the purchase of expensive branded clothing but are then actively discouraged from practising the surprisingly cheap sport itself by the kind of knobheads who make Whelans such an unpleasant place to have a beer in. As Bruce Springsteen once put it, "You can look / But you better not touch". It's the direct opposite of the DIY punk mentality, Not U2, so to speak and it makes me sick to the core. I think Alex Garland really skewered that attitude in his novel, 'The Beach' in which backpackers are drawn to a mythical beach community hidden from the outside world and, when they find it, are then sworn to secrecy about its actual location.

Which is where that photo of Kelly Slater and Eddie Vedder on the North Shore comes in because if anything screams of a elitist, hierarchical, exclusive, aristocratic and corporate approach to surfing it's that image. The surfer as rockstar, the rockstar as surfer, the both of them as king. The crowd of unwashed fans held at bay as these two goliaths stride forward to play in an ocean that neither of them has any ownership of. Oh yeuch !
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Snowboarders have been listening to their MP3 players for years as they carve down virgin powder slopes and half pipes but surfers being surfers and water being water its taken somewhat longer for wave riders to catch on to the potential of listening to their favourite music during a session. Recently however, that has started to change with the release of the DryPod, an i-Pod compatible waterproof case and headphone set which allows surfers to listen to their favourite tunes whilst out on the break. Another company that has been keen to produce something surf friendly is Freestyle Audio who have created the Freestyle Audio Digital Media player and enlisted Billabong team rider and former world champion Andy Irons to promote it. Whether these devices catch on; surfers being notoriously cheap when it comes to spending money on non essential items (wetsuits, plane tickets, boards and hoodies excluded) is another matter.

Perhaps, these devices will only appeal to the Wilbur Kookmeyers amongst the surfing community. Who knows ?


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2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).