He Asked, "Is That All You Do?"

Hey, we are pretty much a one trick pony.

Recently at lunch with a friend, we were discussing music.  He was a teenager during the “Summer of Love” and played in a band then.  Mind you, his band was not famous, but he was in a band.  In San Francisco!  He attended shows at The Fillmore.  And he hung out in a Victorian with the Jefferson Airplane. 

That was truly San Francisco chic in that bygone era.  Hanging out in a Victorian was cool.  Hanging out with the Jefferson Airplane was even cooler.  Then again, all of us probably have heard somebody else’s story which tops my friend’s.  Becky and I once ran into a traveler who regaled us with his tales of being a bicycle messenger in San Francisco and living in the Haight upstairs from Charles Manson.

The Jefferson Airplane and being a bicycle messenger, however, would not top my San Francisco “Summer of Love” hip list.  Spending time with John Cipollina or Big Brother and the Holding Company probably would.  Of course, that is a retrospective look.  When I lived in San Francisco, I was an uptight student and a “veteran” of sorts who spent a couple of years hanging out in Hawaii on a nuclear submarine.  Far from hip and unlikely to spend time with any of the “Summer of Love” icons.

Enough of that stroll down Memory Lane! 

Our lunch discussion of music turned to the Lava Pups.  Admittedly, my friend is not a surf music enthusiast.  He really does not know much about surf music at all.  He has not attended any of our gigs.  He has our CD and never has said anything about it.  I assume that it never saw the inside of his CD player. 

Beyond watching “Pulp Fiction,” his exposure to instrumental surf music apparently was limited to a party more than a year ago at which I played along with the Pyronauts.  His historical perspective on rock ‘n roll is rooted in the “Summer of Love” and Jimi’s saying that surf music was dead.

So he said, “Is that all that you do?”  Huh?  He continued, “You don’t sing.  You just play the melody for the lead.” 

To myself, I thought, “Is that all we do?  What did you expect -- Jimi Hendrix, Quicksilver Messenger Service, or the Grateful Dead?  We play surf music!”  Do we get any credit for writing songs?  For memorizing two sets worth of songs?  For four guys making music together and entertaining folks?

At a baser level, my playing guitar is like a monkey typing.  What did my friend expect?  1812 Overture, Finlandia, War and Peace or [fill in your magnum opus vote]?  A room full of monkeys playing guitar might come up with “Lava Tube” but not 8 simple, primitive instrumentals!

Those mental gymnastics ended with the "Charitable Bill" voice imploring, “ Give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“Yes, that’s all we do.  Play instrumental surf.  We are pretty much a one trick pony.”

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