The Songs of Summer #26: ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ by The Beach Boys
It’s hard for us today to imagine just how popular The Beach Boys were, especially in their earliest days. Their unique blend of surf-type sounds and amazing vocals about fun, sun, girls, and cars made it feel like summer at the beach no matter where the listener was located, or the time of year.
The Beach Boys’ hit singles are so well known, and for good reason. A Beach Boys Greatest Hits CD makes a fairly nice summer soundtrack all on its own without any help from anybody else.
Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, rock and roll was dominated by the 45 RPM single. Albums were for grown-ups and their fancy easy listening and classical recordings. Rock and Pop were a singles game…but the record companies thought they could make extra money by compiling a group’s hit singles together onto a full album, and they were right. The handful of single tracks were fleshed out on albums with other non-singles tracks, and in these early days, lots of these extra tracks were basically just filler, or throwaway songs. The Beach Boys’ early albums were no exceptions; their first several albums (released before The Beatles crashed the party and turned the rock album into a true art form, influencing everybody else, including The Beach Boys) were stuffed with songs that oftentimes pale in quality next to their hit singles. But not all of them. There are diamonds in the rough on lots of these early-era rock and roll albums. And one of them, this Beach Boys track, is one of my favorite songs of summer.
‘Farmer’s Daughter‘ is the second track on The Beach Boys’ second album ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.‘, released in 1963. (Their first album was released in 1963 as well. Their output in those early days was incredibly prolific.) This song was never released as a single, and is not well known to many, which is a damn shame.
The album is most famous for its title track, ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’, and the rest of the album is filled out with lots of surf instrumentals. All in all, it’s not a bad album, but it’s definitely not looked at as one of their best. It was released at the full height of the surf music craze, and its’ songs definitely reflect that. And the album’s cover stands as one of the true classic album covers from the surf era of the early 60’s.
‘Farmer’s Daughter‘ is a song about pretty much just what it sounds like, a guy’s ode to the farmer’s daughter he’s fallen for after staying at the farm, where he was glad to have been able to, ahem, *plow her fields*, and his promise to someday return for her. The song is a perfect example of Brian Wilson’s rapidly evolving songwriting and his amazing harmony arranging. I love the vocals on this song. And I also love it because it’s not one of the group’s more famous singles that often get played to death on oldies radio, which has the tendency to take the fun out of any song that’s overplayed. It still sounds fresh today, 52 years later. Do you agree?