Nothing sets the tone for a surf session quite like a bit of music. Whether it’s a tonic of easy on the ear notes from a gently strumming guitar, or an incessant bass line pounding out unrelenting riffs, the pre-match music has a big impact on your state of mind as you enter the water. Providing a much needed kick of adrenaline for the inevitable pounding, or a state of mind readjustment to bring you more in line with the mood of the waves. Here are a few suggestions to get you perfectly aligned with the conditions of the ocean. And don’t worry, there isn’t a Beach Boys jingle in sight.
The song for head high perfection
To get you on top of your game for a classic session in the water, the music needs to be fast, but not frenzied; something to inspire surfing that matches the perfect conditions. A catchy melody to have running through your mind on the paddle out, and a strong rhythm to start your search for waves off on the right foot.
Music for a heavy sea
Sometimes, as you look out across the ocean at the waiting swell, you know what’s going to happen. The waves are good, too good to consider not going in, but in the back of your mind you know at some point during the session mother nature is going to deliver a severe beating in your general direction. The adrenaline levels need to be raised to match the ferocity of the waves, focus on the rewards rather than the risks, and harness the unfaltering aggression of the waves: “F**k you I won’t do as you tell me” seems as appropriate a sentiment as any.
A song for surfing fading light
When the sun is about to dip behind the horizon for a few hours, and the sea is radiating the last of the day’s warmth, the conditions in the water almost become irrelevant. Tearing the last rideable wave of the day to shreds is vulgar; best to channel your inner Tom Curren and search effortlessly for the perfect line, perform gentle arcs on the face, and wind down in an appropriate fashion. Jack Johnson is the obvious choice, but in an attempt to avoid surf song clichés I’ve instead opted for this:
A track for when it’s cold
The wind is howling. Be it on, off or cross shore – it’s cold. The water temperature, air temperature and wax temperature could all do with doubling, and the flurries of warmth being asthmatically churned out from the vents of the car heater are doing little to evoke memories of tropical waters. Lyrically, ‘Walking on Sunshine’ seems to tick all the right boxes, but if this came on my radio at a low ebb I’d be driving the car deep into the water just to silence Katrina’s cheerful wail. The warmth needs to come from a different place, and what better time than now to let the dulcet tones of Lou Reed heat up your inner soul, giving you the motivation to leave the warmth of your car.
There’s nothing worse than taking a hopeful look at the waves, only to be greeted by a gently lapping millpond. In this instance, music is a means to forget your woes and send you into a state of oblivion. Just trying to get your head around the lyrics of this one will send your mind to another place – although not necessarily a better one.
So there it is, a list so subjective that the only person it’s relevant to is me. What’s definitely not in question though is the relationship between surfing and music. Surf trips, surf films and surf sessions are without doubt made better by good music. So turn up the radio…and catch some waves.