I first heard this song when I was about 8 years old at the 1984 Renfrew Fair. The cool older kids seemed to love it, and they were playing it non-stop on what I was convinced was the scariest and coolest ride at the fair: The Zipper. Released by Canadian New Wave greats Martha and the Muffins on their 1980 album Metro Music, it was written by Mark Gane while working for the summer checking wallpaper for defects. He said in an interview with CBC radio a few weeks ago that he changed the worker to an office clerk, because he figured that was more relatable than wallpaper inspector (fittingly CBC Music just hosted their first music festival at Echo Beach in Toronto, though that wasn’t the beach named in the song). It’s undoubtedly an early ’80s classic.
But unlike lots of other songs I encountered at the time, this one has always stuck with me as a favourite. Beyond loving the really rhythmic chorus and the repeated hook at the end, I think I love it because it’s a bit sciencey. The beach isn’t nostalgic or the memory of something that happened long ago. It’s “far away in time”, which always made me think that the song recognized space and time as connected. And “knowing I’ll be back at echo beach someday” always said to me that it’s not gone. It exists both then and now. It always felt like a planet visited in Dr. Who, far away both in space and time but not gone when you leave, not in the same way that childhood homes and toys are gone. I’m probably reading way too much into it but it was one of the first things I thought of when I started to learn more advanced physics. So for no other reason than that it’s a cool image of time, I wanted to celebrate this great song.