SH Spotlight "Cecilia Ann" by the Pixies, Surftones on YouTube. Yes, I wrote the song with my buddy Frosty..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    People have asked me about CECILIA ANN and if I wrote it..

    Yes, it is true. I wrote this song with Charles "Frosty" Horton and we played it as The Surftones on record. Then the Pixies heard it and asked if they could cover it as the opening song for their Bossanova record. (They sampled me kicking the Fender Twin amp at the start).

    Update: 9.21.16: The Story of Cecilia Ann.

    When I worked at DCC Compact Classics, Marshall gave me one CD a year. In other words, I got to release an album on CD that we knew would lose money but was still neat anyway (He was good that way, still is.) One year he let me do Chris Montez Greatest Hits (which actually made money) and in 1989 he let me do a Surf compilation mainly because I was crazy about a song that was at Wenzel's Music Town called "Inertia" by the Hustlers.

    I wanted to find more like that and release a surf music disk. Our sales manager HATED the music, hated the idea, hated me. But, Marshall let me do it. I mean, there was a budget for artwork, mastering, manufacturing, etc. He knew it wouldn't sell but he liked the music as well.

    So, I compiled the disk but was feeling that we needed a good kick off (truly, and I kicked my amp) song. I couldn't find one, so, I decided to create one, make it seem like a long lost song, gave a fake band name, old record label, etc. and just put in as the starting song on SURF LEGENDS (And Rumors). To make the album stronger, and, well, because I could.

    Charles "Frosty" Horton, the new age music guru was in the next office and we were talking about how to do this. We decided to write a song, Frosty could play a convincing Surf lead and we could use my Sony TC-788 four channel tape deck to do it. I only had two microphones and that was all that was needed. So we overdubbed.

    At any rate, one night at my apartment on Riverside and Longridge in Sherman Oaks Frosty came over after work and we started.

    Now, I had a deal with my landlord, my oldies band could practice in my apartment every Tuesday night for two hours, FULL BLAST and the neighbors couldn't complain (it was in their lease agreement that we were doing this). The trade off was that I was the acting landlord when the real one went on vacation (which was often.)

    So, on a Tuesday night, I got Jeff Traintime's Fender black face Twin (with JBL speakers), Frosty brought over his Fender bass and I pulled out my G&L beater strat-like guitar and we started in, without a clue in the world what to write.

    My drums were already in the living room, I put a mic near the snare, the other mic on the Fender amp and Frosty and I sat on the couch and tried to write an old style surf song. Wasn't working. Frosty's wife brought pizza and after our second slice, Frosty had a brainstorm. He thought of a little melody fragment by Gabriel Fauré' that he liked and he played it for me. It was good but we changed the notes around, and progressed. I took a yellow legal page and knocked out the chords (I still have the page) as Frosty played his new melody. We liked it. We called it CECILIA ANN, a joke; a rough translation of Faure's little ditty from French to English.

    So, around 9 pm, I turned on the tape recorder, got on the drums, Frosty on the bass and we both stared at the yellow paper and knocked out the basic track (drums/bass guitar) in one take! That was the easy part. The rest of the night we overdubbed Frosty's lead line. At midnight we stopped, he did an OK take, a few flubs (even better, we sounded like teenagers) and left it.

    In the morning, instead of going to work, I recorded the rhythm guitar part on my 1965 Fender Strat. Then, I mixed it, OLD SCHOOL style right on to my Tascam DAT machine, really vintage style, nothing in the middle. Twin-track, like those old small studio Surf songs. Frosty never heard it until I played it for him at work that afternoon. He liked it, thought it made a worthy Surf Song..

    So, I decided to slip it on the disk as the opening track. The next night I figured out an intro opening for the song to punch it up a bit. I turned on the recorder, kicked the reverb chamber and strummed a chord, using the wang bar, spliced it on the four channel tape right at the start, remixed and that was it. The opening song for SURF LEGENDS! It was perfect, and we went right into the second song, Inertia by the Hustlers which was ALSO twin track, same mixing style. Excellent.

    Now, let's be clear here. We didn't charge DCC Compact Classics any money to license the song, we just gave it to them for free. never published the song, never charged royalties, never put our names on it (written by THE SURFTONES), it was a freebie for the good of the album. Nothing else. Just wanted a good, strong, memorable first song to get the album going.

    I mastered it at Location Recording Service in Burbank with Kevin Gray.

    The album was released, sold initially around 10 copies in the USA (as predicted by our sales manager), but in the UK and around the world it sold a LOT more. Surf music is very popular overseas (so we discovered). Our sales manager still hated me but he eventually did order a repress (after we sold 10,000, mostly imported.)

    So, a long time passed. The Pixies heard the song while on tour in the UK and recorded it. Their manager found us through the address on the back of the disk. So, Frosty hurried out and registered the song, got it published and the next thing we knew it was the opening track on the new Pixies album "Bossanova!" Holy crapola.

    That's how I became a BMI writer. One song.

    Then, it was chosen for the opening title credit music for a great 1995 film called "Kicking And Screaming" and not the Pixies version, OUR version, up on the big screen. So cool, and then the Pixie's box set on Elektra, and then, and then, and then... The gift that kept on giving.

    Now, several other songs off of SURF LEGENDS were noticed, one, by the Pastel Six was licensed for use on that show with Johnny Depp, 12 Jump Street or whatever it was called.

    And of course, The Revels COMMANCHE was pulled from it and featured in PULP FICTION in the Gimp scenes.

    So, that's the story, forgive the length of it, but I thought you'd find it interesting..

    Frosty and I were delighted, of course. Thing is only today we discovered that the song has gone deep into YouTube, inspiring musicians of all types to give it a try. It's quite flattering. The first link is our original, then the Pixies and then a bunch of intense strangers trying it. Gotta love 'em. Feels weird that a song we wrote as a lark is now so ingrained in the pop culture and judging by the size of our royalty checks, this is happening all over the world. Bitchin'.

    On our original Surftones version that's Frosty on guitar and bass and me on guitar and drums as first heard on the "SURF LEGENDS (And Rumors)" compact disk from 1989..

    THE SURFTONES ORIGINAL (Steve & Frosty, recorded in my apartment in Sherman Oaks, 1989):

    THE PIXIES from "Bossanova" 1990: Pixies "Cecilia Ann" »


    Cohen - Cecilia Ann »
    Los Daytonas - Cecilia ann »
    The Pixies - Cecilia Ann/Allison »
    Razorblades - Cecilia Ann - 2011-08-10 »
    Cecilia Ann - The Mermen - 19 Broadway - June 19, 2009 »
    SURFZILLA - Cecilia Anne - Outback Lodge - 2009-04-17 »
    Cecilia- Ann (Cover) by Smash Your Radio »
    Cecilia Ann by Dave Purslow.wmv »
    CECILIA ANN (cover by BLUE(S)PILLS) »
    YouTube »
    Kazan Vs Surftones & Pixies : Cecilia Ann + Out of wonderland »
    Hi, Donna Here... - Cecilia Ann (Live at WHRW 2011) »

    I'm sure there are more but this handful is enough. If you find any more good ones can you post?
    G E, Man at C&A, lightbulb and 36 others like this.
  2. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Austin, TX
    YES! Pixies have been one of my favorite acts of all-time for a very long time.
    VinylRob likes this.
  3. :wave:Very cool to know that you're also a published songwriter, Steve...gotta find that Pixies cover version of your song!!!
  4. hodgo

    hodgo Tea Making Gort (Yorkshire Branch) Staff

    East Yorkshire
    Well Done Steve, not only are you a top mastering engineer now you're a bonafied rock star too. :righton:
  5. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Have you ever thought of returning the favour?

    Like, by covering Wave of Mutilation on your next release? :D
    pablorkcz likes this.
  6. Adam9

    Adam9 Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    :righton: Boss sounds, Steve!
  7. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident

    Santa Rosa, CA
    I had no idea. I've loved this tune for years. Very cool, Mr. H.

    Actually... beyond cool.

    lightbulb likes this.
  8. warren

    warren Active Member

    Phoenix, AZ
  9. westcott

    westcott Member

    This track is also on the It Came From the Beach compilation on Ace, 2008. The liner notes say:

    "Mystery surrounds the Surftones. 'Cecilia Ann' first saw release on a late-80s CD, where it was erroneously noted as having been released in 1964 on an independent label. The year of recording is almost certainly correct, although it is most likely to have been previously unissued. There was a Dave Myers & the Surftones who recorded 'Church Key' for Impact in 1962, the only cover of the tune released on the same label as the original."

    To make things murkier, Google search lists several bands called the Surftones. Was this with/for the original Dave Myers group on hoary old Del-Fi? Actually recorded in 1964? And never released until the late 1980's? If so, what happened?
  10. Coldacre

    Coldacre Well-Known Member

    always loved Dave Lovering's drumming and he absolutely drives this song
    BDC likes this.
  11. UncleHalsey

    UncleHalsey Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA, USA
    Steve, how about giving the Pixies the AF remaster treatment? I have the MOFI vinyl, but would love to add AF gold CDs...

    Would love to hear what you would do with Surfer Rosa.
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

  13. westcott

    westcott Member



  14. Khojem

    Khojem Forum Resident

    Irvine, CA, USA
    Wasn't the ACE set a digital clone compilation of Surf Legends (and Rumors) and More Surf Legends (and Rumors)? Looks like it from my track listening comparison.
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Of course it was. They probably just pulled it off our CD. There is no other version.

    That's OK, ACE didn't license it from anyone or if they did, they paid the license fee to the wrong person.

    We didn't charge DCC anything to license the song, we just gave it to them for free.

    It wasn't about the money, it was about finding a good lead song for the SURF LEGENDS CD. The Hustlers "INERTIA" came right after it on the disk and it was perfect.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  16. ampmods

    ampmods Forum Resident

    Boston, MA, USA
    Cecilia Ann.

    Great tune!

    Bossanova is my favorite Pixies album (and "Velouria" is my favorite Pixies song).
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Weird how these old threads suddenly start getting some action..
  18. Mike Vandamme

    Mike Vandamme Forum Resident

    The Woodlands, TX

    I had no idea. I'm a huge (instrumental) surf fan. Love that Surftones version!
  19. Gilliam

    Gilliam Well-Known Member

    Not too long ago I saw Dick Dale play live in a small club and he blew the roof off the place!!
  20. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
  21. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident

    Santa Rosa, CA

    And #5.

  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Ah, I see, thanks!!
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Glad to hear it!
  24. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    I've recently been listening to Big Star, The Replacements and Pixies (and now The Breeders). Anyhow, I came across this thread so I just have to bump it for those who missed it.
  25. paulisdead

    paulisdead fast and bulbous

    While we're on the subject of Mr. Hoffman's song writing credits, I was wondering if our host could solve this mystery:,_Secret_Chimp#The_Evolution_Revolution

    The Evolution Revolution
    This all-chimp band, dressed in colorful hippie-style wigs and wardrobe, featured Lancelot Link (played by Tongo) on guitar and Mata Hairi (played by Debbie) on tambourine, with Blackie as "Bananas Marmoset"[3] on the drums. "SweetWater Gibbons" (in fringed vest and granny glasses) was credited for playing Farfisa organ, although the organ usually pictured in the clips was a Vox Continental organ.

    In episode "The Evolution Revolution", it was established that the band's music was used to communicate coded messages for APE agents.

    The songs were usually co-written and performed by Steve Hoffman, in the
    Bubblegum pop style then in vogue; Hoffman received "voices" credit along with the various character actors. A Lancelot Link record album was released on ABC/Dunhill, as well as a single titled "Sha-La Love You", a song originally intended for The Grass Roots; the music shared some of its style with the music of The Grass Roots, who used the same recording facilities and studio musicians. Some songs contained heavy guitar riffs, reflecting the growth of hard rock.

    An Evolution Revolution song, "Wild Dreams, Jelly Beans", was later covered by the Spanish alternative rock band Hello Lilliput.


Share This Page