march 2011

jan and dean surf city

‘Two Girls For Every Boy!’

(Below are the liner notes for Jan and Dean’s Surf City And Other Swingin’ Cities album, released in 1963 on the Liberty label. KFWB Los Angeles disc jockey Bill Balance is the culprit.)

Off Balance

Being Chairman of the Jan and Dean for Congress Committee and having been an unmitigated surfer for many a moist semester, I can’t imagine anyone else writing these notes--now that George Bernard Shaw is no longer available.

Let’s establish right off that Jan and Dean are the greatest thing since home relief. There’s a legend going around, which I just made up, to the effect that Jan and Dean were born Siamese twins. And that because they were joined at the feet, their parents thought they were a dance team. This is nonsense because (a) they are not related in any way except musically; and (b) they are not Siamese--although they are considering having their eyes fixed before making their next Oriental tour.

In the title song of this best-selling album, you’ll note their reference to a ’34 Woody. They tossed in this mild inaccuracy merely for melodic counterpoint. Jan and Dean DO have a woody wagon, but it’s an elderly Pierce Arrow hearse with a--you’ll pardon the expression--1933 body. It was once owned by a little old Pasadena Funeral Home which has since been converted into a home for Retired Roller Derby Girls. And their woody-hearse is in mint condition because the owner used the hearse for only one thing--he planted geraniums in it.

But now Jan and Dean drive it to their favorite beach practically every day, and the hearse is full of rollicking, sturdy, bleached surf bunnies (a hip term applied to stunning young ladies who lounge on the sand and subsist entirely on hotdogs, fried kelp and some abrasive affection). The boys’ surfing-hearse not only accommodates countless dolls--any one of whom could revive the imagination of a dying hermit--it also carries a dozen surfboards, including a double-decked job for couples who are inseparable, and has its own wine cellar, barbecue pit and a staff for their Wonder Horse, Irving. Because of the justifiable and deductible pride Jan and Dean take in pollenization, the tires are Early Harley-Davidson and the motor was wrenched out of a 1925 Model T Runabout! But its carbide lamps are semi-contemporary, they have just pasted fresh tarpaper on the running boards and out of each buggywhip socket there waves a banner--one representing USC which Dean attends, and the other the California College of Medicine where Jan’s a scholar.

Jan and Dean regard whirling a conventional steering wheel as rather poor form, so they have sawed off the steering column even with the floorboards. Hence, they now steer the hearse beachward by ordering one of their horde of bleached babes to lope along on each side of the vehicle and give the front wheels a vigorous kick whenever a change of direction is desired. This is a splendid navigational aid and also tends to weed out the less durable dolls.

I submit all this factual data because the fame of Jan and Dean has given rise to a series of prying, inaccurate articles based on proliferating myths. You may, for example, have read “The Inside Story of Why Jan and Dean Refuse to Play Twin Harpsichords,” “Why Do Jan and Dean Insist on Recording in a Minuteman Underground Silo,” “Jan and Dean Meet Lady Chatterley at San Onofre,” “Jan and Dean Fight the Man-Eating Anchovies” and “The Night Jan and Dean Taught Their Landlady the Leonard Bernstein Stomp.”

If you are the usual alert Jan and Dean album collector, you may well have noticed that in this album, they sing about many cities. This municipal decision has created some bitterness, because several towns had to be eliminated. Indignant petitions have been received from the citizens of Frozen Monkey, Montana; Elephant’s Breath, Idaho; and Tent Flap, Arizona, all of them pleading pathetically to be included in this album,but it was manifestly impossible to work them all in. So I am suggesting--as a gesture to national solidarity--that their next album salute the Civil War Centennial, with musical tributes to both the Union and the Confederacy. With such songs as the following, nobody will feel rejected. Here are a few of the titles I have recommended to their wily manager, the notoriously debonair Lou Adler: “Jan and Dean Twist Through Georgia,” “Jan and Dean Shoulder Muskets at Antietam and Have a Real Blast” and “Jan and Dean Are Caught Looting at Gettysburg.” If you have any such non-partisan song titles, I urge you to keep them to yourselves.

I have to go now. Being Mayor of Suave City, I am taking poise lessons by watching old William Powell movies on television. Also, I’m knocking out the boys’ next single, “THE CREATURE FROM UNDER CHAVEZ RAVINE BATTLES IT OUT WITH JAN AND DEAN!”

bill balance
Bill Balance
A graduate of the University of Illinois and former Captain in the Marine Corps, Bill Balance is quip-jockey on KFWB, Hollywood, every night from 6 to 9 PM and also writes a monthly column for ‘TEEN Magazine, in his usual discjocular style.


Jan and Dean, ‘Surf City’ (#1, July 1963)

Jan and Dean’s ‘Surf City’ video

surf city

Jan and Dean, ‘She’s My Summer Girl’ (B side of ‘Surf City’)

Jan and Dean, ‘Honolulu Lulu’ (#11, 1963)

jan and dean honolulu

Jan and Dean, ‘New Girl In School’ (B side of ‘Dead Man’s Curve,’ 1964)

Jan and Dean, ‘The Restless Surfer,’ album cut from the Ride the Wild Surf album (1964)

ride the wild surf

Jan and Dean, ‘Ride the Wild Surf’ (#16, 1964)

Jan and Dean, ‘I Found a Girl’ (#30, 1965)

Jan and Dean, ‘Drag City’ (the first of J&D’s seven hit singles in 1964; charted at #10, January 1964)

Jan and Dean, ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ (#8, 1964)

Jan and Dean, a live medley from 1965

Lesley Gore hands the mic to Jan and Dean, who perform ‘The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’ live

jan dean
Surf’s up!

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