Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Geosong of the Week: The Little Girls' "Earthquake Song"

Uh. Yesterday was Monday, wasn't it? So much for remembering what day of the week it is over the summer! (Even with the two-day-out-of-seven breaks from model running...)

So you get a Tuesday song. Who decided Monday, anyway? WHO?

In honor of two-weeks-ago's earthquake, I think it's time for a Los Angeles Falling Into The Ocean song. There are a quite a lot of songs that fall into this category on the Playlist, and most of them are quite upbeat. The general consensus among the songs of the Playlist is that San Francisco must be saved and should be revered for persevering despite San Andreas' blows, but that the loss of Los Angeles will benefit the world at large. Also, the singers in the LA-based songs don't generally seem to give a crap that their city is falling down, while it is far more serious business for the SF songs. I think this ties into the whole SoCal Denial thing when it comes to nature, but that's a rant for another post.

This week's song may be one of the silliest on the list. I've mentioned it in this blog before, but I feel it deserves its own post, since it made me laugh so hard that I wheezed the first time I heard it. Despite its unoriginal title, "Earthquake Song," by The Little Girls, is a real gem.

The Little Girls are a pop/new wave band based in Santa Monica. They were popular in the 1980s for goofy novelty songs like this one, but their MySpace seems to indicate that they're still going strong as a group, and even have a new album out. "Earthquake Song" was on their 1983 release, "No More Vinyl." I don't know what time of year this came out, and I haven't googled up anything about the specific impetus for the writing of the song, so I'm not going to claim it's related to the 2 May 1983 Coalinga quake, nor a delayed reaction to the 1979 Imperial Valley quake. I'm just guessing that quakes on the news sparked this song, since they're not often discussed in the mainstream media unless one has just happened.

The music to this song is a classic example of a SoCal surf song. It has all the right driving guitar rhythms and riffs, drum punctuations, vocal harmonies, and backup/contrapuntal lines. If you weren't listening to the words, you might almost take it as a girl group covering a Beach Boys song. But because this music is so dead on to the genre, it allows the words to really shine in context.

Here are the lyrics in full:

There's gonna be an earthquake in this town
There will be houses falling down
The fire hydrants will blow up
The streets will crack
The pipes will pop

It's going kill my mom and dad
They are the only folks I had
But they better not blame me
'Cause it's not my fault

It's always fun living in L.A.
Always a good show on somewhere
What more can I say
There's gonna be an earthquake
I can't miss it, no way

I'm gonna run, run, run
We're having so much fun
'Cause there's a building chasing me
Smack, smack, I just fell in a crack
And now I'm gonna be debris.

There's going to be an earthquake in this town
The dogs are chasing their tails around
There's a buzzing in the air
Maybe I'll die, but I don't care
My surfboard's ready for the tidal wave
I'm gonna ride down Sunset like a Beach Boy today
I only hope I don't wipe-out in West L.A.

Yes, I enjoy living life this way
Always a good show on somewhere
What more can I say
It's gonna be an earthquake
I can't miss it, no way

I'm gonna run, run, run
We're having so much fun
There's a building chasing me
Jump up. Jump back
Break your mother's back
And we'll all fall in the sea
Wheeeee!

It's always fun living in L.A.
Always a good show on somewhere
What more can I say
It's gonna be an earthquake gonna get me
It's gonna be an earthquake gonna get me
It's gonna be an earthquake gonna get me today



Let us review:
Reference to LA treating nature as another showbiz spectacle that'll be out of the news as soon as the next celebrity dates someone new? Check.
Surfing the seismic waves and tsunamis? Check.
Reference to all kinds of earthquake foreboding myths? Check.
Reference to the actual Beach Boys? Check.
Falling into the ocean? Bring it on!
Pun on "fault"? Of course!

I also adore the part about "a building chasing me." It's such a silly mental image in and of itself, even without context, but it becomes more ridiculous when one considers how it's a cheery and blithe reference to outrunning buildings that have been shaken to the point of collapse. Apparently it's ok to discuss damage when it's worded in a silly way, but better not to address it directly until it happens...

Glaringly '80s video of a live performance of "Earthquake Song"

2 comments:

Maria said...

You're sure the songs aren't just reflecting the objective fact that SF r00lz and LA droolz0rz?

Julian said...

I think that underlying message is fully suggested by the YAY LA IS GONE versus OMG NO NOT SF sentiments.

Ma-an. I've only been to San Francisco once, and I liked it better than Los Angeles almost immediately. Hahah. But I will be down here for a bunch more years!