October 22, 2014

Surfing Through Space with Dick Dale.

wiki commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Space_Mountain_night.JPG

I have compiled a list of my favorite Halloween-style songs.

As I was narrowing down the selection and fine-tuning the list, I also began searching YouTube for links to decent recordings of the songs I had in mind.

My husband wandered in and out of the room as I worked on my list and listened to music. He happened to pop in while I was listening to a Tiger Army track. Tiger Army play a style of music called psychobilly, which is sort of a fusion between rockabilly and punk, and also sometimes incorporates surf-rock style guitars.

I think hearing the twangy guitars is what made him think of Dick Dale.

“Ooh,” he said to me. “You know what would be a good spooky-sounding song to add to your list? The Dick Dale track that used to play on Space Mountain!”

I knew immediately what he was talking about. I grinned as happy memories flooded my mind of tearing through “space” with the intense Dick Dale soundtrack blasting out of the speakers of my “rocket.”

If you were a kid or teenager who lived in southern California in the late 90s, chances are you know what I’m talking about. (Folks that grew up near Orlando, Florida around this time can probably also relate.)

Space Mountain is the indoor roller coaster at Disneyland park in Anaheim, California. And if you are a fan of roller-coaster (like me!)  you probably also have some appreciation for this indoor coaster that hurls you through mock-galaxies in the dark.

It’s a great ride but part of what always made it so awesome was the trippy music that would blast out of the speakers (right by your head) during the ride.

I don’t recall exactly when I picked up the bit of trivia that the soundtrack playing was Dick Dale but I do remember thinking that was pretty damn cool.

Dick Dale is the official “King of Surf Guitar.” He essentially pioneered the surf music style, fooling around with Eastern musical scales and experimenting with reverb.

Bit of trivia: Dale was also buddies with Leo Fender and helped Fender create the first-ever 100-watt amplifier!

The “Official” Dick Dale website states that:

Dick Dale invented surf music in the 1950’s. Not the ’60’s as is commonly believed. He was (first) given the title “King of the Surf Guitar” by his fellow surfers with whom he surfed with from sun-up to sun-down. Dale’s first album called “Surfer’s Choice” was the first “Surfing Album” to be commercially sold with a picture of Dale surfing by the pier in San Clemente California with a surfing title on it.

wwiki commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dick_Dale_Middle_East_May_2005.jpg

Getting back to the roller coaster—Although Space Mountain first opened in the 70s (at both “Disneyland” and the Walt Disney World “Magic Kingdom” park) the on-board music track didn’t come into play until 1996!

Per Wikipedia:

Composer Aarin Richard and show producer Eddie Sotto teamed up… to fuse two iconic musical forms of the 1960s (sci-fi horror music and surf music ) into a sensory ride experience.

All of the music was based on “Le Carnival Des Animaux: Aquarium” (The Carnival of the Animals), written by Camille Saint-Saëns. The first section of the ride’s music was synthesized and entirely devoted to the sci-fi aspect as the rockets left the station to begin their slow climb to the top of the dome.

After the vehicles crested the third lift hill, a rocking surf rendition of the piece kicked in as gravity pulls the vehicles down through the ride’s interweaving turns, hills, and dips.

Guitarist Dick Dale was brought into the Disney Imagineering recording studio to play his famous surf guitar riffs for this section of the music.

It was awesome. The perfect soundtrack for hurtling through space!

Unfortunately, sometime around 2006, Disney decided to do a “nighttime transformation” of Space Mountain called “Rockin’ Space Mountain” where the music was changed up, and the Dick Dale soundtrack was no longer used.

There were a few different songs that were used in “Rockin’ Space Mountain”, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers rendition of “Higher Ground.”

Now, I totally have respect for the RHCP, but this experience of the ride was just not the same!

To this day, many So-Cal locals, including my husband and I are rueful for the loss of the awesome Dick Dale Space Mountain soundtrack.

I’m not even sure exactly what they are using now, as the Mouse-House has become so ridiculously expensive, I haven’t been in years.

But, when my hubby mentioned the Dick Dale Space Mountain song, I concurred that it would make a cool addition to the Halloween music list I was working on so I attempted to search for it on YouTube.

My husband was under the impression that the song was called “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” (What a bad-ass name, right?) But when we found that track and listened, we realized this was not the right song.

It turns out (a bit of Google-research solved the mystery) there was music video for Dick Dale’s (Ghost) Rider in the Sky that used to play on the video monitors, while folks waited in line to ride Space Mountain. And while I don’t quite recall the video, the music sounds familiar, and I’m fairly certain this is the tune that used to play as we’d walk through a corridor to exit the ride.

Once we realized “Ghost Rider” wasn’t the song we were looking for, we tried doing a search for just: Dick Dale Space Mountain.

That’s when we struck gold!

Not only did we find the awesome track we were looking for, but we found a version that includes a “Night Vision” video of the ride, so you can see the coaster’s track and follow along with the twists and turns as the music plays!

That’s when I opted to not include the song on my Halloween playlist. I thought this little gem was so cool, it needed to be its own stand-alone piece!

Now, please make note – this is not the same as the old-school Space Mountain experience. I mean, it’s got the Dick Dale music, which syncs up with the ride’s twists and turns, but when you are actually on the ride you can’t see the track! It’s way too dark, even with the illuminated stars and galaxies.

That’s what makes the ride so fun—you can’t see the coaster track in front of you, so you don’t know where you are going!

Nonetheless, watching this video of the roller coaster’s track with the old-school Dick Dale soundtrack provides a whole other fun (and nostalgic for some) experience.

So meditate, smoke a bowl, have a beer – whatever it is you do to get “in the zone”, so to speak. Then turn the volume up high, sit back and enjoy the ride!




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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, via Penyulap, Alton and Mike Burns


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