The Songs of Summer 90-92: Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys
It’s a cold (well, 55 degrees; cold for August, would seem like the tropics in January) gray morning at the Brainstembob Bunker…BUT…still summer, folks. There’s no better way to warm up a cool rainy morning than The Beach Boys, so today features a whole heaping helping of Beach Boys classics. Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys have shown me over the years that, no matter what the weather’s like, and no matter what time of year it actually may be, the sunny summer is never far away as long as their music plays.
‘Don’t Worry Baby‘ may be my favorite Beach Boys track. Music by Brian Wilson, lyrics by Roger Christian. Recorded in 1964 for the album Shut Down, Vol.2. It’s in my opinion the best example of the beautiful harmonies this group could create. I prefer the stereo version to the mono, with Brian’s gorgeous double-tracked falsetto lead vocal in one ear, the rest of the Boys’ singing harmony around a single mic in the other. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Brian’s ode to his favorite song, ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes.
‘All Summer Long‘ (music by Brian Wilson, lyrics by Mike Love) was also released in ’64, this time on the album of the same name (the album was All Summer Long. Pay attention.) A very cheery, happy song about a couple of kids who’ve apparently spent all summer doing all the things that perfect kids do during a perfect summer. Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills. Sounds like a good time to me. Does a Honda Odyssey minivan count???
Any look at the Beach Boys’ music has got to include ‘Good Vibrations,’ Brian’s “teenage symphony to God.” Released as a single-only in 1966, the song encapsulated all of Brian’s songwriting, arranging, and production genius in one neat little package. Recorded in fragments over several months, the song was a perfect example of how Brian was using the recording studio as another musical instrument. Plus, it’s just a damn great song that sounds great blasting out of a radio in the summertime. However, the version I’ve included is not the original Beach Boys version, but rather Brian Wilson’s 2004 version recorded for his ‘Smile’ album, which recreated the great ‘lost’ album that was recorded in the sixties but never released (it was eventually released, in 2012, and is worth obtaining.) Brian and his amazing studio and touring band recreated the Smile sessions perfectly, and I love this version of ‘Good Vibrations‘ for its alternate lyrics and slightly different vocal arrangement, and also for demonstrating that almost 40 years later, Brian Wilson was still able to create musical magic. Brian Wilson was The Beach Boys to a huge extent, and to a huge extent still is.