Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Sounds of Rockabilly

As I aimlessly roamed the alley behind my place clutching a beer and scarin' the neighbors, a very distinct sound caught my attention. It produced a Pavlovian response as I realized that the clear ping sound was that of a tool being dropped on a concrete floor. I followed the sound to a nearby garage where one of my neighbors was working on his '63 Buick Kustom.

This made me understand the power of sound and the emotions and memories that it can trigger and caused me to ask myself, " does Rockabilly have a sound?" The rhetorical answer was a resounding " hell yeah". There are proprietary sounds associated with the culture and the lifestyle and I will try to describe them.

1. Ping.

That's the sound of tools when someone is working on a hot rod. It is always followed by multiple pings as the hot rodder's level of frustration increase causes him (or her) to throw said tools around the garage. This is usually followed by a string of epithets or guttural shouts. It is always, without exception, followed by a 'pfft" which is the sound of a beer can being opened.

2. Pfft.

As I just mentioned , that is the satisfying sound of a beer being cracked and will usually attract greasers from miles around . The hearing ability of greaser to hear a PBR being opened rivals that of any dog's high frequency abilities. The greasers will hone in on the epicenter of these sounds and many, many "pffts" will follow.

Another associated sound will be "aaww" which is the exhortation of the unlucky greaser that has been elected to do a beer run. As the " pffts" continue on  into the night the malodorous consequences of drinking lots of beers will manifest itself with many rude sounds such as very loud belches and other bodily emanations.

The only sound that will not be produced is the sound of an engine coming to life, because no actual work got done.

3. Mwenk!

That is the annoying sound of an ATM announcing to the world that you are broke. I hate that sound. Everybody in line behind you smirks as that ridiculous machine seems to take perverse pleasure in going "mwenk!'. Hot rodders and guitar players are all too familiar with that disheartening sound and the average greaser who partied like an animal on the weekend is bound to hear it early Monday morning.

This is sometimes followed by a sound that it remarkably similar to a campfire - that would be the sound of your credit cards beginning  spontaneous combustion.

4. Splork

That is the satisfying sound of two fingers dipping onto a fresh can of hair grease. The one hour of preening and greasy fingerprints in the bathroom mirror seem to produce another type of high pitched sound as the said greaser's girlfriend or wife gets a load of this greasy mess.

Either way, when the hair is finally done, the anticipation of good times that night might cause more than a few "yee-haws".

Sometimes " Doh!" can be the result as someone attempts to ride a bike with greasy hands and they keep slipping off the grips or maybe repeatedly dropping their beer, as the inevitable laws of physics kick in and friction is reduced to zero.

5. Bweee-eee

This sound is usually heard inside a greaser's head the day after having attended a show that featured a really loud band(Dick Dale comes to mind). The greasers' machismo will cause them to declare "I don't need no damn ear plugs" or " If it's too loud your too old."

There won't be much conversation that day because he will see people's lips moving but all he  will hear is " bweee-eee!" followed by a constant stream of "huh?" Best to avoid areas where there is lots of traffic for the rest of the day.

6. Thwoong.

This the sound of a guitar being dropped after when guitar players imbibe way too much Jack during a show. Coincidentally it is exactly the same sound a guitar makes after hitting some idiot in the head who has been yelling " Skynyrd!!" the whole night.

7. Grrr-rrr

The involuntary growling that greasers produce when they hear bongos being played, see hipsters strutting defiantly towards them, see hippies in outrageous clothing or get a whiff of patchouli. In my case the said odor of patchouli always causes me to me to say "fucking idiot" out loud.

8. Krunch.

That is usually the sound of a transmission breathing its last breath or a differential that has just shattered into a million pieces. This will soon be followed by many "mwenks" at the ATM. The only other sound that will be heard inside the car is a very quiet "uh-oh."

9. Doh!

This has nothing to do with Rockabilly, but cracks me up nevertheless. It is the sound of uncoordinated morons who fall off their bikes or smack into trees. It's just funny, that's all.

10. Faaa-aaak.

This is the barely perceptible sound that greasers utter when a really hot women walks by. It is precisely the same sound that occurs when a really cool car rolls by. The same exact sound, go figure.

11. Clompity-clomp

This sounds rather like a small herd of buffalo. It is usually produced when even an allusion to free beer is mentioned. It also similar to the sound made by the neighbors as they bang on the ceiling with a broom stick at 4 am.

A series of reverse " clompity-clomps' will then occur as 40 drunken greasers stumble down the stairs and attempt to remember where they live.

"Clompity clomp" at double the regular tempo and leading in the opposite direction usually means that the cops are on the way. Woe to the greaser who can't keep up, because he might just hear "Vlump" within the next few days- that is the sound of soap being dropped in a shower.

12. Chunk-a-chunka

That is the sound a twenty or so greasers being whipped into a frenzy by a band which causes them to play invisible upright basses. Safer than moshing and a whole lot quieter.

13. Sqwank-sqwink.

That is the sound of a leather jacket when you are moving around. It can be annoying because dogs can hear this sound. It also seems to convince drunken assholes that this a signal to start a fight. Convenience store employees seem to get nervous around this sound for some reason. Cops don't seem to take too kindly to it either. It also makes it very hard to skulk about at 4 am and not wake up the wife. This might be followed by the sounds of crickets.

14. Ow- eh?

This the sound that Canadian greasers produce after a night of drinking. " Let's go to the bar. eh" "Gimme another beer, eh" , "Jack Daniels shooters, great idea, eh?"  , " Call me a cab, eh", " the room is spinning, eh",  " What a hangover. Ow, eh"

15. Yep

That's what we mutter to ourselves after a bit of introspection causes us to realise how fortunate we are. We don't live the mind-numbing, soul destroying lifestyle of the squares and even though there are certain rules of society that we are compelled to follow, it is intensely satisfying to make one's own way in life. Now if only I didn't hear so many of those damn "Mwenks!"

1 comment:

  1. "Ping" & "Pfft"... pure bliss. Don't forget "Kling...shht" - the sound of a Zippo lighting a Lucky Strike!