I didn't think this month could get any worse, but Dick Dale died on Saturday night. Dick Dale, born Richard Anthony Monsour, defined the 'surf rock' genre, and incorporated Eastern Mediterranean musical influences, reflecting his father's Lebanese-American heritage (his mother was Polish/Belarussian), into his music. Dale was a guitar virtuoso, the man just ran up and down the fretboard and cranked up the reverb, pushing the limits of the equipment that Leo Fender gave him to test out. Dick Dale was also a genuine surfer, so his songs about surfing and drag racing were played with utter conviction. Dale's best known song is the Greek/Levantine folk song Misirlou, which he rescued from lounge-music purgatory and turned into an absolute amp-buster. While the song was re-popularlized in the 90s when it was featured on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack... I was introduced to his music by listening to college radio starting in my middle school years. Even as I write this, I have his greatest hits CD in my car's disc player, though I admit that it's dangerous to listen to Dick Dale while driving, because the music leadens the foot.
Dale's oeuvre is too numerous to encapsulate in a quick blog post, but the man performed into his 80s, because this country doesn't provide good healthcare to the elderly, displaying the same muscular playing style he did in his youth. Here's a live performance of his from June of last year:
I'm hoping for a break from the general suckitude of this month as I head down to Brooklyn for this month's Secret Science Club lecture featuring the triumphant return of Frans de Waal, who I am a big fan of. Dr de Waal was extraordinarily kind to me, linking to my recap of his lecture on his Facebook page, so there's one bright spot in this month, this month, this terrible month.