I will say it again today, unfortunately….our power has been out since Friday. Right now I’m using the last charge on my laptop with my phone as a hotspot. I called the county department and our electric company… over 200 trees were blown over on power lines. Some have electricity and some don’t…our road has a tree over the power lines. We are pretty much stuck here in the dark…Our electric company has called in help from other states…but right now all we can do is wait. This is a pic of my road. So I won’t be commenting much if any until there is once again power. Funny how we take some things for granted.
Now I have to go to my car to charge my dying phone again.
I almost didn’t post this song at all. Everyone knows that I’m non-political to the core. Even for a song that is over 50 years old… this one has drawn its admirers and haters. Was it a parody or was he serious? It goes both ways.
I always wondered if Merle Haggard was serious in this song. I really didn’t think he was totally and as it turns out he wasn’t on most of it. The song started as a joke but more and more people took it on face value and the song became huge. Merle said: “‘Okie’ made me appear to be a person who was a lot more narrow-minded, possibly, than I really am.”
As Haggard and his band were going to Muskogg Oklahoma he and drummer Eddie Burris started to write this song as a parody. Haggard spotted a sign that read, Muskogee, 19 miles, and he joked to Burris that they probably didn’t smoke marijuana in the small town. The rest of the band joined in and threw out other activities that probably wouldn’t be happening in Muskogee, and because of the times they were in, talked about the Vietnam War.
There are things Haggard didn’t like though… he didn’t like the protesters giving soldiers a hard time when Vietnam was going on when they didn’t have a choice but to go. When Johnny Cash visited the White House, Nixon wanted him to play this song. Cash refused and later said the song was a lightning rod for the anti-hippie movement.
I remember it as a kid very well. Country radio would play it to death back then. I would just sing along because it’s super catchy. There are a few country artists I really like. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Roy Clark, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, and the king of them all…Hank Williams Sr. I don’t care too much about what a fellow blogger…Jeff calls “Bro Country” which is on the airwaves now.
The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard Country music charts and #3 in the Canadian Country music charts in 1969-70.
I did find an interesting cover version by The Grateful Dead AND The Beach Boys together at the Fillmore in 1971. Mike Love is singing lead and you can hear Jerry Garcia’s guitar. The Dead also covered Mama Tried.
Merle Haggard:“We wrote it to be satirical originally. But then people latched onto it, and it really turned into this song that looked into the mindset of people so opposite of who and where we were. My dad’s people. He’s from Muskogee.”
Merle Haggard: “When I was in prison, I knew what it was like to have freedom taken away. During Vietnam, there were all kinds of protests. Here were these [servicemen] going over there and dying for a cause we don’t even know what it was really all about. And here are these young kids, that were free, bitching about it. There’s something wrong with that and with [disparaging] those poor guys. We were in a wonderful time in America and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak and what the hell did these kids have to complain about? These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free. I wrote the song to support those soldiers.”
Oki From Muskogee
We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don’t take our trips on LSD
We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street
‘Cause we like livin’ right, and bein’ free
We don’t make a party out of lovin’
But we like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo
We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do
And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
And white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all
Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear
Beads and Roman sandals won’t be seen
And football’s still the roughest thing on campus
And the kids here still respect the college dean
And I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee
A place where even squares can have a ball
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse
And white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all
And white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA
This is one of the first Beach Boy songs I heard and could connect to them. This is a song that the Beach Boys did in tribute to Chuck Berry except they forgot one small thing…they didn’t tell Chuck. He was in jail at the time of this song. When Berry threatened to sue, The Beach Boys agreed to give him a huge sum of the royalties and list him as the song’s composer along with Brian Wilson. Mike Love has claimed he wrote some of it also but never got credited.
The song also helped build Berry’s legend while he served his time. Surfin’ USA was based on Sweet Little Sixteen. Carl Wilson came up with the guitar intro, which is reminiscent of Duane Eddy’s “Moving and Grooving.”
One of the many Beach Boy songs about surfing. The only member of the band who actually surfed was drummer Dennis Wilson. The surfing culture gave them an opportunity to write songs about adventure and fun while exploring vocal harmonies and new production techniques. And while the majority of Americans didn’t surf, the songs represented California at the time.
This was the follow-up to their first hit “Surfin’ Safari.” Brian Wilson was gaining confidence as a producer, and this song marks the emergence of what would become the Beach Boys’ signature sound over the next few years.
The song peaked at #14 on the Billboard 100 in 1962. The B-side 409 peaked at #76 the same year.
Carl Wilson: “On ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.,’ Brian wanted an opening lick and I just did this Duane Eddy riff. I was worried that it had been on another record, but what the hell. That was the first time we were aware we could make a really powerful record. For the first time, we thought the group sounded good enough to be played with anything on the radio.”
Guitarist David Marks played guitar on the Beach Boys first five albums: “The energy on the Surfin’ USA session was very upbeat and happy. That’s where that chemistry thing kicks in again… there was a certain energy on that track that was a one-of-a-kind happening. It wasn’t perfect in a technical sense, but the vibe was something special that had a lasting effect.”
If everybody had an ocean
Across the U.S.A.
Then everybody’d be surfin’
You’d seem ’em wearing their baggies
Huarachi sandals too
A bushy bushy blond hairdo
You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Trestle
All over Manhattan
And down Doheny Way
Everybody’s gone surfin’
We’ll all be planning that route
We’re gonna take real soon
We’re waxing down our surfboards
We can’t wait for June
We’ll all be gone for the summer
We’re on surfari to stay
Tell the teacher we’re surfin’
Haggerties and Swamies
San Anofree and Sunset
Redondo Beach L.A.
All over La Jolla
At Waimia Bay
When I graduated in 1985, The Beach Boys were on my tape deck in my car. Although the music was 20 years old I could identify with them more than the music I was hearing on top 40 radio.
This was the leadoff track to The Beach Boys’ legendary Pet Sounds album. While the “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” singles sold very well, the album had very disappointing sales when it was first released in America. The UK appreciated it much more along with Paul McCartney and John Lennon. America wanted more surf songs but Brian Wilson had moved into a different place.
I was very surprised to read that as of 2021, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is the Beach Boys’ most streamed song on Spotify. I would have thought Good Vibrations or one of their early surf songs.
Brian Wilson wrote the song with contributions from vocalist Mike Love and lyricist Tony Asher. Asher wrote all of the lyrics except for the “Good night, my baby, sleep tight, my baby” lines at the end of the song, which was Love’s contribution.
Pet Sounds peaked at #10 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in the UK. Wouldn’t It Be Nice peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, #12 in New Zealand, and #58 in the UK in 1966.
Mike Love has said that Brian Wilson made him do his part over 30 times. He started to call Wilson “Dog Ears” because he could hear something that no one else could.
Mike Love: “Brian must have been part canine because he was reaching for something intangible, imperceptible to most, and all but impossible to execute,”
Nick Kent journalist: “This time [he] was out to eclipse these previous sonic soap operas, to transform the subject’s sappy sentiments with a God-like grace so that the song would become a veritable pocket symphony.”
Tony Asher (Lyricist) “It was a great joy making music with him but that any other relationship with Brian was a great chore. I found Brian’s lifestyle so damn repugnant. I mean, for say, every four hours we’d spend writing songs, there’d be about 48 hours of these dopey conversations about some dumb book he’d just read. Or else he’d just go on and on about girls… his feelings about this girl or that girl… it was just embarrassing.”
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long? And wouldn’t it be nice to live together In the kind of world where we belong?
You know it’s gonna make it that much better When we can say goodnight and stay together
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up In the morning when the day is new? And after having spent the day together Hold each other close the whole night through?
Happy times together we’ve been spending I wish that every kiss was never ending Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?
Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray It might come true (run run ooo) Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do We could be married (we could be married) And then we’d be happy (and then we’d be happy) Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?
You know it seems the more we talk about it It only makes it worse to live without it But let’s talk about it Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?
Good night, oh baby Sleep tight, oh baby Good night, oh baby Sleep tight, oh baby
***Dave from A Sound Day has a new feature Turntable Talk…he will have an article by me today about Why the Beatles are still relevant…hope you get to read it.***
Imagine a concert in 1975 with The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and more. Well, it happened! Sorta. Rod Serling did all of the radio promos. It would be one of his last projects…he would pass away before it aired.
It was a 48-hour-long rock concert (Fantasy Park) that was aired by nearly 200 radio stations over Labor Day weekend in 1975. The program, produced by KNUS in Dallas, featured performances by dozens of rock stars of the day and even reunited The Beatles. It was also completely imaginary, a theatre-of-the-mind for the 70s.
The “concert” was made up of live and studio recordings by the artists with live effects added to make it sound legit.
The show had college students hitchhiking all over America hoping to get to Fantasy Park. In New Orleans when the concert aired, the IRS came knocking on the doors of WNOE trying to attach the gate receipts to make sure the Feds got their cut! Callers were asking where they could get tickets to this amazing show.
The show was so popular in Minnesota that they played it again in its entirety the next year…now that people knew it wasn’t real and weren’t looking for tickets. The greatest concert that never was. Fantasy Park had their own emcee and special reporters covering the weekend event giving you the play-by-play details along with some behind-the-scenes updates.
The concert would always be halted due to rain on a Sunday morning to allow the locals to get in their regular (usually religious) programming and the whole event always ended promptly at 6 pm on Sunday.
Now people look for the full 48-hour tapes of the show. They are a hot collector’s item. Rod Serling passed away on June 28, 1975.
Bands at Fantasy Park
James Taylor (& Carol King)
Marshall Tucker Band
Allman Brothers Band
Seals & Crofts
Loggins and Messina
Those who follow my blog and know me…know I like older music than my generation. I was once told by a co-worker that it’s “unnatural” to like music before you were born…which I think is hilarious and totally idiotic. I go through phases with music. When Hans and I talk about The Beatles I tend to listen to them and nothing else for a while…and the same with other bloggers.
I have done this my entire life…I get into something and I’m obsessed. I never really discard anything after my obsession dies down…it keeps coming back and in the case of the Beatles and others… never goes away.
In my senior year of high school I went through a surf music phase. I wore Hawaiian shirts and coco butter everywhere. I was looking forward to the Florida trip my friends and I were planning in spring. I would roll in the high school parking lot with Jan and Dean, Dick Dale, or The Beach Boys blaring out of my Mustang. I had a hell of a stereo system in my car. When Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” can drown out The Scorpions coming from another car…the system is loud.
During this time surf music hit the musical spot in me. The musicians on those surf records were incredible. This song dug deeper…much deeper. I still listen to the song. Don’t Worry Baby is about a girl and a car…when you are an 18 year old boy…a girl and a car are the two most important topics…at least they were to me. It has always stuck with me and I’ll never forget that year. My first serious girlfriend, a 66 Mustang, and Don’t Worry Baby… 1985 was a good year.
We did go on that spring trip to Cocoa Beach Florida. A fifteen-hour drive one way in a Celica Sports Coupe with 4 guys packed in there. We picked the name (Cocoa Beach) because it sounded great…Yep pretty stupid because we could have driven 7 hours to Pensacola instead.
It was written by Brian Wilson and DJ Roger Christian. This was conceived as a follow-up to the Ronettes #2 hit “Be My Baby.” When Brian Wilson heard the Be My Baby on the radio, he wondered aloud if he could match it. Wilson’s wife Marilyn reassured him, saying, “Don’t Worry, Baby.”
This is pop perfection by the Beach Boys.
Don’t Worry Baby
Well it’s been building up inside of me For oh I don’t know how long I don’t know why But I keep thinking Something’s bound to go wrong
But she looks in my eyes And makes me realize And she says “don’t worry, baby” Don’t worry, baby Don’t worry, baby Everything will turn out alright
As a teenager, I could relate to this song. Now in this world, we live in now… I can relate to this song even more. I love the harmonies in this song.
Brian Wilson suffered from severe agoraphobia and refused to leave his bedroom for a significant amount of time. He wrote this song to give people an idea of how he felt. The song, like many Beach Boys songs, has beautiful harmonizing. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher.
This song was the B side to Be True To Your School released in 1963. The song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100 in 1963.
Brian Wilson: “When Dennis, Carl and I lived in Hawthorne as kids, we all slept in the same room. One night I sang the song ‘Ivory Tower’ to them and they liked it. Then a couple of weeks later, I proceeded to teach them both how to sing the harmony parts to it. It took them a little while, but they finally learned it. We then sang this song night after night. It brought peace to us. When we recorded ‘In My Room,’ there was just Dennis, Carl and me on the first verse… and we sounded just like we did in our bedroom all those nights. This story has more meaning than ever since Dennis’ death.”
In the 1998 documentary Endless Harmony, Brian Wilson described this song as about being “somewhere where you could lock out the world, go to a secret little place, think, be, do whatever you have to do.”
Charles Manson, who was convicted of orchestrating the murders of six people in 1969, made repeated claims that The Beach Boys stole this song from him. In Manson’s view, he wrote a song called “In My Cell” which was about how he feels peace with himself in his jail cell. Manson did have a connection to The Beach Boys – he knew their drummer Dennis Wilson – and did write and record some songs. His claims have little basis in fact – something that is true of most of his proclamations.
Bill Medley from The Righteous Brothers recorded this with Phil Everly and Brian Wilson for his album Damn Near Righteous, his first new album since the untimely 2003 death of his partner Bobby Hatfield.
Interesting food for thought: Brian Wilson just might have inadvertently inspired one of the greatest jazz fusion bands, Blood Sweat & Tears, albeit indirectly. Al Kooper relates in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards that he was sitting in Brian Wilson’s living room while he showed off the Pet Sounds album. He was just leaving The Blues Project and wandering around California in an existential haze wondering what to do next, when while visiting with Brian Wilson, “Deep in the back of my mind was a band that could put dents in your shirt if you got within fifteen rows of the stage…” He explains his idea of having a band with a horn section in it, more than R&B bands but less than Count Basie’s or Buddy Rich’s. “Somewhere in the middle was a mixture of soul, jazz, and rock that was my little fantasy.”
This was released as the B-side of “Be True To Your School.”
Linda Ronstadt and Tammy Wynette both covered this song.
One of the many who found solace in this song is Steve Perry of Journey fame, who told Rolling Stone: “This was an anthem to my teenage isolation. I just wanted to be left alone in my room, where I could find peace of mind and play music.”
In My Room
There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to In my room, in my room In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears In my room, in my room
Do my dreaming and my scheming Lie awake and pray Do my crying and my sighing Laugh at yesterday
Now it’s dark and I’m alone I won’t be afraid In my room, in my room In my room, in my room In my room, in my room
This is a traditional West Indies tune about a sunken boat. It was adapted in 1951 by Lee Hays of the Weavers (as “The John B Sails”) and revived in 1960 by Lonnie Donegan.
This was the biggest hit from The Beach Boys landmark album Pet Sounds. The album’s origin was basically Brian Wilson, and he got the title when Beach Boy Mike Love suggested the album had Brian’s “pet” sounds or his favorite sounds. To keep the animal theme, Wilson put some barking dogs on the album.
Al Jardine on Pet Sounds: Mike Love was very confused … Mike’s a formula hound – if it doesn’t have a hook in it, if he can’t hear a hook in it, he doesn’t want to know about it. … I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the change, but I grew to really appreciate it as soon as we started to work on it. It wasn’t like anything we’d heard before.”
The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand, and #2 in the Uk in 1966.
The Beach Boys’ folk music buff, Al Jardine, turned Brian Wilson onto the Kingston Trio’s recording of the song. For their updated version, Wilson added elaborate vocals and a 12-string guitar part. He also changed some of the lyrics, including “This is the worst trip since I’ve been born” to “…I’ve ever been on” as a wink to acid culture.
The song was popularized by The Kingston Trio, who adapted it from a version in poet Carl Sandburg’s 1927 songbook The American Songbag. The Kingston Trio’s version stays true to the song’s Calypso roots, and was released on their first album in 1958. Eight years later, The Beach Boys changed the title to “Sloop John B,” and came away with a hit. Their debt to The Kingston Trio goes far beyond this song: The Beach Boys adopted the group’s striped, short-sleeved shirts and wholesome persona as well.
With Wilson at the controls, the album was recorded at United Western Recorders in Los Angeles, in the studio known as “Western 3.” Wilson coaxed a big sound out of the little room, which measured just 14′ x 34′.
Brian Wilson hired 13 musicians to record this song on a midnight – 3 a.m. session on July 12, 1965. The session players packed into United Western Recorders in Los Angeles that night were:
Hal Blaine (drums) Carol Kaye (electric bass) Al De Lory (keyboards) Al Casey (guitar) Lyle Ritz (upright bass) Billy Strange (guitar) Jerry Cole (guitar) Frank Capp (Glockenspiel) Jay Migliori (clarinet) Steve Douglas and Jim Horn (flutes) Jack Nimitz (sax) Charles Britz (engineer)
Billy Strange did some guitar overdubs at another session on December 29, 1965.
According to pop historian Joseph Murrells, this was the Beach Boys’ fastest selling record to date – over 500,000 within two weeks in the US alone.
Sloop John B
We come on the Sloop John B My grandfather and me Around Nassau town we did roam Drinking all night Got into a fight Well I feel so broke up I want to go home
So hoist up the John B’s sail See how the main sail sets Call for the Captain ashore Let me go home, let me go home I want to go home, yeah yeah Well I feel so broke up I want to go home
The first mate he got drunk And broke in the Cap’n’s trunk The constable had to come and take him away Sheriff John Stone Why don’t you leave me alone, yeah yeah Well I feel so broke up, I want to go home
So hoist up the John B’s sail See how the main sail sets Call for the Captain ashore Let me go home, let me go home I want to go home, let me go home Why don’t you let me go home (Hoist up the John B’s sail) Hoist up the John B I feel so broke up I want to go home Let me go home
The poor cook he caught the fits And threw away all my grits And then he took and he ate up all of my corn Let me go home Why don’t they let me go home This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on
So hoist up the John B’s sail See how the main sail sets Call for the Captain ashore Let me go home, let me go home I want to go home, let me go home Why don’t you let me go home
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.
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
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’
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)
Simply a beautiful song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. Carl Wilson sings lead on this song and it is an incredible vocal performance…one of the best in my opinion. The song peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100 and #2 in the UK in 1966. I still have a hard time believing it only made it to #39.
The Beatles’ “Here, There And Everywhere” was inspired by this song. John Lennon and Paul McCartney heard Pet Sounds at a party and went back to Lennon’s house to write it. Paul McCartney once called “God Only Knows” “The greatest song ever written.”
“God Only Knows” was voted 25th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,
Brian Wilson wrote this song with Tony Asher, who was an advertising copyrighter and lyricist that Wilson worked with on songs for Pet Sounds. This song reflects Wilson’s interest in spirituality, and it was a big departure from previous Beach Boys songs that dealt with girls, cars and surfing. Wilson explained to Goldmine in 2011: “Tony Asher and I tried to write something very spiritually. It’s got a melody similar to the song (recites lyric to ‘The Sound Of Music’), ‘I hear the sound of music…’ (Sings lyrics to ‘God Only Knows’) ‘I may not always love you…’ It was similar to it. Tony came up with the title ‘God Only Knows.’ I was scared they’d ban playing it on the radio because of the title but they didn’t.”
This song is considered a Beach Boys classic, but it only managed to scrape the Top 40 in the United States. That’s because it was released as a B-side, partly because of fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with “God” in the title. In the liner notes to the reissued Pet Sounds album, Tony Asher explained, “I really thought it was going to be everything it was, and yet we were taking some real chances with it. First of all, the lyric opens by saying, ‘I may not always love you,’ which is a very unusual way to start a love song.”
Carl Wilson handled lead vocals on this track. Not long after the song was released, he said, “At present our influences are of a religious nature. Not any specific religion but an idea based upon that of Universal Consciousness. The concept of spreading goodwill, good thoughts and happiness is nothing new. It is an idea which religious teachers and philosophers have been handing down for centuries, but it is also our hope. The spiritual concept of happiness and doing good to others is extremely important to the lyric of our songs, and the religious element of some of the better church music is also contained within some of our new work.”
The famous French horn on this song was played by Alan Robinson, who appeared on the scores for many films, including The Sound of Music and The Ten Commandments. He got the call for the session because he could play without music written out. Brian Wilson sang him the horn line he had in mind, and Robinson played it by ear using a glissando technique suggested by Wilson.
Brian Wilson would sometimes introduce this as “the first song in the world to have God in the title.” God is common in hymns and standards (“God Bless America,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee”), and was rare in pop songs, but not unprecedented; in 1961 Johnny Burnette made #18 US with “God, Country And My Baby.”
Brian Wilson planned to sing the lead vocal himself, but decided that his brother Carl was better suited for the track. “I was looking for a tenderness and a sweetness which I knew Carl had in himself as well as in his voice,” said Brian.
This was featured at the end of the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. It was also used in the films Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson’s drama about the porn industry) and Saved (a 2004 drama about a Christian high school, where there are two versions, both covers). >>
This was the theme song for the first three seasons of the HBO television series Big Love, which ran 2006-2011.
Asked by The Guardian which Beach Boys song took the least effort to write, Brian Wilson replied: “I wrote ‘God Only Knows’ in 45 minutes. Me and Tony Asher.”
In Al Kooper’s tell-all autobiography Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, Kooper talks about his evening visiting Brian Wilson only a week before Pet Soundshit the streets: “Brian played a test-pressing of the record, jumping up and stopping cuts in the middle and starting them over to emphasize his points. He was very proud of his accomplishment, maybe even a little show-offish, but I wasn’t about to argue. Do you remember the first time you heard ‘God Only Knows’?”
A cover version of the song was broadcast simultaneously across BBC television and radio channels on October 7, 2014 to launch BBC Music. The new adaptation featured Brian Wilson himself as well as various guest stars including Pharrell Williams, Sir Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Stevie Wonder, One Direction and Dave Grohl.
Brian Wilson first toyed with the idea of titling this “Fred Only Knows” before settling on “God Only Knows.”
John Legend and Cynthia Erivo played this to bookend the “In Memorium” segment at the Grammy Awards in 2017. There were an extraordinary number of musical passings that year, David Bowie, Prince and George Michael among them.
God Only Knows
I may not always love you But long as there are stars above you You never need to doubt it I’ll make you so sure about it God only knows what I’d be without you
If you should ever leave me Though life would still go on, believe me The world could show nothing to me So what good would livin’ do me God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
If you should ever leave me Though life would still go on, believe me The world could show nothing to me So what good would livin’ do me God only knows what I’d be without you
This is one of the best double A side singles ever released…The B side to I Get Around was “Don’t Worry Baby.” I had this single growing up and would watch the yellow and orange 45 spin. I’m not an audiophile but I will say the vinyl version of I Get Around jumps off the record at you while the cd seems flat.
I Get Around peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 while reaching #7 in the UK in 1964. This was The Beach Boys first number 1 in the US. It was rated fifth biggest seller of 1964 by both Billboard and Cash Box indicating close to 2 million US units sold.
Like most early Beach Boys songs, this does not have deep lyrical content; it’s a fun song about a teenage lifestyle featuring friends, girls and cars. Musically, however, it was incredibly innovative, with an opening fuzz guitar, stop-start rhythms and a keyboard line working in and out of the song. Written by Brian Wilson with contributions from Mike Love, it was the first Beach Boys recording after The Beatles took hold in America, and Wilson responded with this rather complex creation.
This was The Beach Boys first #1 in their own country (“Surfin’ Safari” went to #1 in Sweden two years earlier). Father-manager Murry Wilson and therefore his beleaguered son Brian despaired over not hitting the top spot in the US, coming off second best first to the Four Seasons through 1962 and into ’63, then to Jan & Dean when they got to #1 that summer with “Surf City” – a song Brian Wilson wrote – and then into 1964 with the Beatles took over.
This was The Beach Boys real breakthrough in the UK, reaching #7 in a chart that for months had seen only British faces. It was effusively pushed by Mick Jagger on British TV’s Juke Box Jury and he personally circulated copies of it to the UK’s independent pirate radio stations offshore. It was also #1 in Canada and New Zealand.
Fuzzed and reverbed guitar were demonstrated in this way before anyone else in rock, but too subtle for the general public to notice. It was about three years later that fuzz and reverb became a huge deal from the amplifiers of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards.
In our interview with Randy Bachman, he recalls a conversation with Brian Wilson where Wilson explained that this song is based on the Broadway show tune “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.” Said Bachman:
“I said, ‘How did you do that?’ He said, ‘Well, when they say to stay on the C chord for two beats, I stay on it for four. Or if they say stay on the C chord for eight beats, I stay on it for two.’ So if you listen to ‘Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, oh, what those five feet could do,’ that’s ‘I Get Around.’ But they went, ‘Round, round, get around, I get around.’ And then he put his own, ‘Woo oo,’ and then he wrote his own song and he put in his own lyrics.”
I Get Around
Round round get around I get around Yeah Get around round round I get around I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town Get around round round I get around I’m a real cool head Get around round round I get around I’m makin’ real good bread
I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old strip I gotta finda new place where the kids are hip
My buddies and me are getting real well known Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone
I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town Get around round round I get around I’m a real cool head Get around round round I get around I’m makin’ real good bread Get around round round I get around I get around Round Get around round round oooo Wah wa ooo Wah wa ooo Wah wa ooo
We always take my car cause it’s never been beat And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet
None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn’t be right To leave their best girl home now on Saturday night
I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town Get around round round I get around I’m a real cool head Get around round round I get around I’m makin’ real good bread Get around round round I get around I get around Round Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
Round round get around I get around Yeah Get around round round I get around Get around round round I get around Wah wa ooo Get around round round I get around Oooo ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo
You must be logged in to post a comment.