posted on April 13, 2007 03:00
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.