Grunion Run

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared



What they are: Grunion are small sardine-shaped silvery fish that ride the waves in Del Mar City Beach, La Jolla Shores, Mission Beach and Silver Strand Beach up onto the sand to procreate, making for a veritable sea of squirming 4-8 inch fish out of water.

The deal is: The female grunion buries herself in the sand to lay her eggs and the male wraps himself around her to fertilize them—a female's eggs might be fertilized by up to eight males in one night. Then they wait for a wave to take them back out to sea.

From: Mike & Beth Bitts (

A couple of years ago I was browsing thru the Jonathon Richman section at a Tower store, and I swear I saw a track on an album titled 'Grunion Run'. Does anyone know if it's a cover of Zappa's tune, or what??

From: Patrick Neve

I've seen that too. It's on an album called "I, Jonathan." has a realaudio sample of it and although it, too is a surf instrumental I think they are different songs. Richman's song has the classic tribal surf drumbeat and just two major chords a step away.. like F to G and back again. Frank's tune is a I-IV-V with a shuffle drumbeat.

I was thinking that maybe there was an unconcscious link, like Jonathan had heard the FZ single at one time and the title had unconciously resurfaced, but after a cursory web search it seems like it's not such an unlikely concept. For instance: "Grunion are small sardine-shaped silvery fish that ride the waves in Del Mar City Beach,..." etc. Well there's the surf connection. There must be more mentions of grunion runs in surf mythology. I found an album called "Chumming" by a fishy group called the Halibuts, and they too have a surf instrumental called "Grunion Run". You can hear a RealAudio sample of this at: CDUniverse

While this sounds like a different song than the other two Grunion Runs, it sounds closer in form to Zappa's than Richmans, and the melody could be percieved as a mutated form of Frank's guitar line.. I dunno about this one, you be the judge. I find it hard to believe that there are three different and unrelated surf instrumentals all called Grunion Run but right now I can't find anything in the surfing lexicon or mythology to connect them.

Conceptual Continuity


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This page updated: 2015-09-10