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"Surfin' USA"


Uptempo song by the Beach Boys, released in 1963. Head Beach Boy Brian Wilson wrote the lyrics, name-checking more than dozen popular surf breaks, and set the words to Chuck Berry's 1958 single "Sweet Little Sixteen." Mike Love sang lead vocal. Hedging their bets, the Beach Boys released "Surfin' USA" as a single with "Shut Down," a hot rod song, on the flip side. Surfin' USA is also the name of the Beach Boys' second album, also released in 1963.

"Surfin' USA," like "Sweet Little Sixteen" before it, peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts.

Apart from it's bopping party-ready stop-and-start melody, "Surfin' USA" gave the landlocked masses what must have been a slightly confounding look into surf culture, as Love sang about things like "baggies" (surf trunks) and  "hurache sandals" (cheap Mexican-made tire-tread sandals; a surf-fashion fave in the early '60s). Why "Australia's Narrabeen" was included in song titled "Surfin' USA" remains a mystery.

"Surfin' USA" has been covered over the decades by dozens of bands and singers, including '70s teen idol Leif Garret, to '90s neo-punkers Pennywise, and Kermit the Frog. In 2013, "Surfin' USA" was voted the "Greatest Summer Song of All Time" in a Yahoo! Music poll. Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" was runner-up.

"Surfin' USA" lyrics:

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U.S.A.
Then everybody'd be surfin'
Like Californ-i-a
You'd see 'em wearin' their baggies
Huarache sandals, too
A bushy-bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin' U.S.A.

You'd catch 'em surfin at Del Mar (Inside, outside, U.S.A.)
Ventura County Line
Santa Cruz and Trestles,
Australia's Narrabeen,
All over Manhattan,
And down Doheny way

Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin U.S.A.

We'll all be plannin' out a route
We're gonna take real soon
We're waxin' down our surfboards
We can't wait for June
We'll all be gone for the summer
Were on safari to stay
Tell the teacher we're surfin'
Surfin' U.S.A.

At Haggerty's and Swami's
Pacific Palisades
San Onofre and Sunset
Redondo Beach, L.A.
All over La Jolla
At Waimea Bay

Everybody's gone surfin'
Surfin' U.S.A.