Beach Boys – Good Vibrations

This song is a masterpiece by Brian Wilson.

This was recorded over a two-month period using top Los Angeles session musicians. The Beach Boys didn’t play any instruments on the track. About 90 hours of studio time and 70 hours of tape were used, and at least 12 musicians played on the sessions. It’s hard to know whose performances ended up on the record, but some of the musicians involved were Glen Campbell (lead guitar), Carol Kaye (Electric Bass), Lyle Ritz (Standup Bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (organ) and Al de Lory (piano).

Brian Wilson has said that Capital Records thought the song was too long at 3:35 and had psychedelic overtones. Brian had to plead with them to release it. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, #2 in Canada, and #1 in New Zealand in 1966. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.

Brian Wilson: “My mother used to tell me about vibrations. I didn’t really understand too much of what she meant when I was a boy. It scared me, the word ‘vibrations’ – to think that invisible feelings existed. She also told me about dogs that would bark at some people, but wouldn’t bark at others, and so it came to pass that we talked about good vibrations.”

Ok… A Theremin was used in the song. I was always fascinated by this invention. This unique instrument was invented in 1920 by Russian  Léon Theremin. Jimmy Page would play one in the middle of Led Zeppelin concerts…Before we get to Good Vibrations lets see Léon Theremin play his invention.

 

From Songfacts

Brian Wilson called this song a “Pocket Symphony,” and experimented with it over the course of 17 recording sessions. At the time, it was the most expensive pop song ever recorded, costing about $50,000 to make.

Brian Wilson worked on this obsessively. At the time, he stayed home and wrote music while the rest of the band toured. Wilson was just starting a very bizarre phase of his life where he would spend long periods in bed and work in a sandbox. During this period, many considered him a genius because of the groundbreaking songs and recording techniques he came up with.

Brian Wilson played bass when the Beach Boys went on the road, but he brought in Carol Kaye to play bass guitar and Lyle Ritz to play upright bass on these sessions. Kaye recalled in a Songfacts interview, “He did the very first take on that with Ray Pohlman at Goldstar and scrapped that. And the other 12 dates I’m playing on – that’s 36 hours – he did not change that bass part all during that time. He changed all the rest of the music, he didn’t change the bass part. This is what he wrote. It was both bass players at that point – I’m playing the upper part and Lyle’s playing the lower part. If you listen to jazz, that’s the feel that he wrote.”

Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love wrote the lyrics for this song, which he told us were “basically a flowery poem.” The song seems to describe a really good acid trip, and while there is nothing specifically in the lyrics about drugs, Love admits that the psychedelic vibe was an influence on his words. Said Love: “It was this flowery power type of thing. Scott McKenzie wrote “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” and there were love-ins and all that kind of thing starting to go on.

So the track, the music of ‘Good Vibrations,’ was so unique and so psychedelic in itself. Just the instrumental part of it alone was such a departure from what we have done, like ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘California Girls’ and ‘I Get Around’ and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun,’ all of which I had a hand in writing. I wanted to do something that captured this feeling of the track and the times, but also could relate to people. Because I thought that the music was such a departure that who knows how well it would relate to Beach Boys fans at that time.

The one thing that I figured is an absolute perennial is the boy/girl relationship, the attraction between a guy and a girl. So I came up with that hook part at the chorus. It didn’t exist until I came up with that thought. Which is ‘I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, she’s giving me the excitations.’ ‘Excitations’ may or may not be in Webster’s Dictionary, however, it rhymes pretty well with ‘good vibrations.’ It was kind of a flower power poem to suit the times and complement the really amazingly unique track that Cousin Brian came up with.” (Here’s our full Mike Love interview.)

The unusual, high-pitched sound in this song was produced using an electro-theremin, which produces a similar sound to a traditional theremin, an instrument that uses electric current to produce sound (you don’t touch a theremin to play it, but move your hand across the electric field). The theremin was invented in 1919, but was very hard to play, and ended up being used mostly as a sound effects device.

Brian Wilson was familiar with the instrument, as it was used to create eerie sounds in low budget horror movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and It Came from Outer Space. When he put cellos on “Good Vibrations,” he envisioned an unusual high frequency sound to go along with them, and he thought of the instrument. Wilson couldn’t track down a real theremin, but found an inventor named Paul Tanner who’d been a trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra between 1938-’42. Tanner had developed a similar device with Bob Whitsell called an electro-theremin, which unlike a regular theremin, had no antennas. Tanner was brought in to play the device on the recording.

A huge challenge was re-creating the sound of the theremin for live performances. On the road, they used a modified synthesizer with a ribbon controller that Mike Love would play. In the ’90s, another inventor named Tom Polk created a device called a tannerin, which created a similar sound using a sliding knob and manual volume control. This was much easier to play, and Brian Wilson used it for his 1999 comeback tour.

When Wilson went back to work on the Smile album, he used the tannerin on his new version of “Good Vibrations,” which appeared on the 2004 album. The device was seen at the 2012 Grammy Awards when The Beach Boys performed the song.

Brian Wilson called this song “the summation of my musical vision. A harmonic convergence of imagination and talent, production values and craft, songwriting and spirituality.” He wrote it while on LSD, which explains why the song is the musical embodiment of a spectacular acid trip.

This was recorded in fragments – six different LA studios were used in the recording process, and tape from four of these studios was used in the final cut of the track. It was the first pop song pieced together from parts. In the next few years, The Beatles did a lot of this, as they took various unfinished songs they had written and combined them to make one. >>

Brian Wilson started writing this while recording The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. Once the album was finished, he focused on this song. Wilson was not happy about the poor reviews critics gave Pet Sounds, which today is considered a landmark record, so he worked even harder on this.

Most of The Beach Boys songs featured the vocals of either Mike Love or Brian Wilson, but Carl Wilson was the lead singer on this one. Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson was initially tagged to sing the lead vocal but eventually brother Carl was chosen. Dennis claimed to have played the organ on the “na na na na na na” build up. >>

This was the beginning of what was going to be an album called Smile. Wilson recorded the album in about 50 sessions, but it was never released. Considered a “lost album,” Wilson finally finished it in 2004. When he played the album on tour that year, “Good Vibrations” got a rousing response.

This was the last US #1 hit for The Beach Boys until “Kokomo” went to #1 22 years later, setting the record for longest gap between #1 hits on the Hot 100. This record was broken by Cher when “Believe” hit #1 in 1999, 25 years after her previous chart-topper,

In the ’80s, Sunkist used this song in popular commercials for their orange soda (“I’m drinking up good vibrations, Sunkist orange soda taste sensation…”). The vocalist on these spots was Jim Peterik, who was working as a jingle singer at the time but would later form Survivor and co-write all of their hits, including “Eye of the Tiger.” Peterik and Brian Wilson would later cross paths when they worked together on the Beach Boys comeback song “That’s Why God Made the Radio.”

In 2005, a Broadway musical called Good Vibrations opened. The show was based on Beach Boys songs, but failed to find an audience; it closed less than three months later.

Brian Wilson was the only songwriter credited on this track until a 1994 lawsuit awarded Mike Love composer credit for his contributions to the lyrics on this and 34 other Beach Boys songs. Love maintains that Murry Wilson (Brian’s father), handled the publishing details and screwed him out of the songwriting credits.

Todd Rundgren covered this in 1976 on his Faithful album. True to the album’s name, Todd went to great lengths to reproduce every vocal and instrumental aspect of the song (along with several other ’60s hits). Rundgren’s almost-exact copy was a minor hit single on its own, reaching #34 US

Good Vibrations

I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me the excitations (oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations)

Close my eyes, she’s somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossom world

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (excitations)

Ah, ah, my my, what elation
I don’t know where but she sends me there
Oh, my my, what a sensation
Oh, my my, what elation
Oh, my my, what

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’

(Ahh)

Good, good, good, good vibrations (oom bop bop)
She’s giving me the excitations (excitations, oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations

Na na na na na, na na na
Na na na na na, na na na (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)

Van Morrison – Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

This is a lively song by Van the Man…Van Morrison. First heard this song after I bought the Van Morrison album Saint Dominic’s Preview in the 80s without knowing any song on it…I didn’t need to…it was Van Morrison. Van is one of my favorite singers…it’s not just his voice but the way he phrases his words. If you ever get a chance to see him live…do it. I got that honor (The Pay The Devil tour) once and I have to say he sounded better live than on record and that doesn’t happen a lot.

The song peaked at #62 on the Billboard 100 in 1972. This song is an obvious tribute to the great Jackie Wison.

For more on this album and a few more, Aphoristical gives his top 5 Van Morrison albums and this one is at number 2.

From Songfacts

The opening track of Saint Dominic’s Preview, this is a tribute to Jackie Wilson, one of Morrison’s influences. Released as the first single from the album, it charted at #61 on the Hot 100.

Guitarist Doug Messenger recalled the recording of the song to Uncut: “Jackie Wilson Said was totally disorganized. He didn’t know where anything went, and no one seemed to know what to do with it. Van went away and the band worked on the basic structure. When he came back we went through it a couple of times and he was real happy because all of a sudden it seemed to be making sense. He said, ‘I think it’s coming together,’ which is what he always said when he felt it was working.”

“I remember he said to the drummer, Ricky Schlosser, ‘When I sing “boom boom boom,” hit the tom and the kick drum at the same time.’ We ran through it once or twice, and the first recorded take is what’s on the album. It was all over the place, but somehow it worked. Even when he ad-libbed at the end -‘One more time’- somehow we all kept it together. At the end, Van was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. ‘I think we got it!’ We tried a second take and – of course – it all fell apart.”

The song was used as the opening theme for the 1991 comedy movie Queens Logic.

This was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners on their 1982 album Too-Rye-Ay. Released as a single, it reached #5 on the UK singles chart.

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

Jackie Wilson said
It was Reet Petite
Kinda love you got
Knock me off my feet
Let it all hang out
Oh, let it all hang out
And you know
I’m so wired up
Don’t need no coffee in my cup
Let it all hang out
Let it all hang out

Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Do da do da
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile, when you smile
When you smile
And when you walk
Across the room
You make my heart go
Boom boom boom
Let it all hang out
Baby, let it all hang out
And every time
You look that way
Honey child, you make my day
Let it all hang out
Like the man said let it all hang out

Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Do da do da
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
One more time
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile

Cars – Let’s Go

With Ric Ocasek passing away on Sunday I’ve been listening to his music tonight. He wrote some of the most catchy songs of the late seventies to the mid-eighties. Ric Ocasek wrote this song, but their bass player Benjamin Orr sang lead on this one.

The song was on their second album release Candy-O. The song peaked at #14 on the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #40 in New Zealand in 1979. The song’s inspiration was from the 1962 song called “Let’s Go” by the Routers.

Ric Ocasek on Candy-O that was produced by Roy Thomas Baker who also produced Queen.

“We were ready to [produce] our own album if we couldn’t have found a producer,” “But I never had a real producer before Roy; all I ever knew was what I stumbled on. So I was interested to have someone who’s been doing it for 15 years as opposed to my five. I didn’t particularly care for his productions, except on Queen. Now, Queen is not one of my favorite bands, but you can’t help noticing a production like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ the clarity and the way it’s put down. To me, it’s still an art form. I knew what I could do. I wanted to see what someone else could do. He turned out to be a great friend and taught us a lot about musical technique. He never infiltrated arrangements or musical ideas.”

A little off-topic but msjadeli was commenting with me and sent this great link to Ric’s artwork…

https://www.wentworthgallery.com/ocasek.html

 

Let’s Go

She’s driving away with the dim lights on
And she’s making a play, she can’t go wrong
She never waits too long

She’s winding them down on her clock machine
And she won’t give up ’cause she’s seventeen
She’s a frozen fire, she’s my one desire

I don’t want to hold her down
Don’t want to break her crown
When she says “let’s go
I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “let’s go”

She’s laughing inside ’cause they can’t refuse
She’s so beautiful now, she doesn’t wear her shoes
She never likes to choose

She’s got wonderful eyes and a risqué mouth
And when I asked her before she said she’s holding out
She’s a frozen fire, she’s my one desire

I don’t want to hold her down
Don’t want to break her crown
When she says, “let’s go”
I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “let’s go”

“I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “I like the nightlife baby”
She says, “let’s go”

Ric Ocasek found dead today

Sad news from New York tonight. Ric Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday, law enforcement confirmed. Some reports say he was 75 and some say he was 70.

Ric wrote some of the best pop hits of the late seventies and eighties for the Cars. The Cars were a big part of my teenage years.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ric-Ocasek-Cars-Singer-Dead-in-NY-at-75-560430391.html

https://pagesix.com/2019/09/15/the-cars-frontman-ric-ocasek-found-dead-in-manhattan-townhouse/

 

Wacky Races

I would watch this on those magical Saturday mornings when the cartoons last until around noon. Then out the door, I would go but from 7am – noon it was a kids world.

Wacky Races is about a series of car competitions where eleven racers race in different location all over North America. The story revolves around Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley who is determined to cheat just to win the game but they always lose every time. Wacky Races was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired from 1968 to 1970.

Inspired by the 1965 film The Great Race the cartoon features eleven teams of racers competing to win the title of “World’s Wackiest Racer.” The roster of competitors included: Dick Dastardly and Muttley, The Slag Brothers, The Gruesome Twosome, Professor Pat Pending, The Red Max, Penelope Pitstop, Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly, The Ant Hill Mob, Lazy Luke, and Blubber Bear, Peter Perfect, and Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth.

Image result for wacky races

 

ELO – Mr. Blue Sky

The song was on the album Out of the Blue which was a favorite of mine. The song peaked at #35 on the Billboard 100 and #6 in the UK in 1978.

Jeff Lynne locked himself away to write this album: “It was dark and misty for two weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next two weeks.”

The song renewed its popularity with the inclusion on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 soundtrack.

From Songfacts

This song closes the side of the Out Of The Blue album known as “Concerto For A Rainy Day.” The lyric is suitably uplifting, following the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end.

Jeff Lynne has a “blue” streak: Other songs he wrote for ELO include “Out of the Blue” and “Midnight Blue.” Lynne is from the Birmingham area in England, where the Birmingham Football Club (or as Americans call it, “soccer team”) is called the Birmingham Blues. The “blues” in these songs are in some way a tribute to his team. 

The synthesized voice at the end of the song sings, “Please turn me over” because in the old days when we used to listen to our music on vinyl, we had to turn the record over to hear the other side. 

In 2003, this was featured in commercials for the Volkswagen convertible Bug. The spot shows a man slogging through his workday until he stops to look out a window and sees what’s out there. The song was also used in commercials for Sears.

This is played before the start of every football (soccer) match played by Birmingham City Football Club (nickname: “The Blues”). Many fans of the club associate the song with a former player (and later manager), Trevor Francis, who, through his association with the club in the ’70s, was believed to be friends with supporter Jeff Lynne. 

This was used as the theme song to the short-lived series on NBC called LAX, which starred Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood as the runway and terminal managers, respectively. 

This song was used in the Jim Carrey movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and was also featured in the movie Martian Child with John Cusack. 

Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy of ELO performed this song with Ed Sheeran at the Grammy Awards in 2015. ELO, which never won a Grammy, had returned to action in 2014 with a concert at Hyde Park in London.

According to data provided by music discovery app Shazam, Lynne, Tandy and Sheeran’s performance provided the most Shazamed moment of the entire telecast.

This plays during the opening credits of the 2017 movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in what director James Gunn called “the most hugely insane shot I’ve ever done.” Like the first film, the soundtrack is made up of ’70s hits that Chris Pratt’s character plays throughout on a Walkman.

Mr. Blue Sky

Sun is shinin’ in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in the play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day, hey hey

Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey hey

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today is the day we’ve waited for

Oh Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

(Mr. Blue Sky, Mr. Blue Sky)
(Mr. Blue Sky)

Mr. Blue, you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night creepin’ over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind I’ll remember you this
I’ll remember you this way

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue (sky)
We’re so pleased to be with you (sky)
Look around see what you do (blue)
Everybody smiles at you

(Please turn me over)

Cheap Trick – Voices

One of my top Cheap Trick songs. Robin Zanders voice sounds great in this Beatle-esque song.

This song peaked at #32 on the Billboard 100 and #12 in Canada in 1980. The song was on the Dream Police album that peaked at #6 in 1979 in the Billboard album chart. Voices was written by Rick Nielsen.

Rick Neilsen on Voices: We started off with the chorus as opposed to building up to the chorus. Because it’s like you know “Voices,” okay, and that’s the same thing with “Dream Police,” you know, you hear voices in your head or somebody’s just messing with your brain and hears voices. You hear something, it’s like you didn’t know what you were listening for until you heard the voices. Somebody, your mind’s eye, has some talking to do to you.

From Songfacts

Long before their earnest #1 hit “The Flame,” Cheap Trick released another ballad: “Voices.” It’s a love song of sorts:

I fell in love with you again
Please, can I see you every day?

Except that it’s coming from inside his own head. “You hear voices in your head or somebody’s just messing with your brain and hears voices,” the song’s writer, guitarist Rick Nielsen, told The A/V Club. “You hear something, it’s like you didn’t know what you were listening for until you heard the voices. Somebody, your mind’s eye, has some talking to do to you.”

The “title track of the album,” has a similar theme, with the singer dealing with someone else inside his head. Both songs also use a string section.

Arnold Levine directed the video for this song, which was done on the same shoot for the “Dream Police” clip.

Voices

You didn’t know what you were lookin’ for
Til you heard the voices in your ear

Hey, it’s me again
Plain to see again
Please can I see you every day

I’m a fool again
I fell in love with you again
Please can I see you every day

You didn’t know what you were lookin’ for
Til you heard the voices in your ear
You didn’t know what you were lookin’ for
Til you heard the voices in your ear

Words don’t come out right
I try to say it oh so right
I hope you understand my meaning

Hey, it’s me again
I’m so in love with you again
Please can I see you every day

You didn’t know what you were lookin’ for
Til you heard the voices in your ear
You didn’t know what you were lookin’ for
Til you heard the voices in your ear

I remember every word you said
(Word you said)
I remember voices in my head
(In my head)
I remember ever word you said
(Word you said)

I heard your voice-it
Your voice is-cool voices
Warm voices
Just what I needed, too
Words don’t seem right
But its
Cool voices-warm voices
Your voice is
Just what I needed for
Love is the word-it’s
Warm voices-your voice is
Cool voices
Just what I needed, too
I heard your voice-it was
Your voice is-cool voices
Warm voices

Just what I needed, too
Just what I needed, too
Just what I needed, too