4:27 p.m. - October 05, 2005
30 Beach Boys Songs That You Don’t Know But Need To Hear, Now!!
You can read part one here
(Note, due to clunky syntax and non-existent editing, I may have inadvertently placed “I Get Around” on Pet Sounds. I meant to say that “I Get Around” is one song to listen to in the understanding of the genius that is Brian Wilson. That is all.)
15. “Girl Don’t Tell Me” - Summer Days (And Summer Nights
Brian wrote it, and Carl sang it perfectly. Not a surf song at all, but definitely inspired by the Beatles. This is a totally classic, timeless, piece of pop that I can sing to the entire family without embarrassing myself. (HAH!)
14. “The Little Girl I Once Knew” - Spirit of America
A single released in mid-1965, this was deemed a failure by Brian Wilson because it hit just number 20 on the charts. He did not authorize it for the box set, so he’s still disappointed by it. However, it’s just a joy to listen to. It has a lot of stops and starts (which probably shied radio away from it) and it points right to what Pet Sounds was going to become. A hidden gem, for sure.
13. “Friends” - Friends
I can tell why this wasn’t a hit single back in 1968. It sounded so anachronistic compared to the other sounds of the time. In fact, to me it sounds like a theme song to a TV sitcom! However, it’s a fascinating tune, mainly because Brian pours all of his production tricks into it, and the singing is impeccable (as is normally the case with the Beach Boys).
12. “Feel Flows” - Surf’s Up
The lyics (written by Jack Reilly, the manager of the group) seem a bit, odd, I guess. And the production is definitely early 1970’s. That aside, this is one of Carl’s best songs, with a lovely melody and unique sound to it.
11. “Wild Honey” - Wild Honey
Had the Smile debacle not occurred, I guarantee this would have been a huge smash single. Alas, not meant to be. This is just a fun record from beginning to end, with a neat theremin part, along with a killer electric piano and bass riff, and some bongos and cheesy thrown in for good measure. Carl sings like his hair is on fire, and that’s a great thing!
10. “Don’t Back Down” - All Summer Long
This is officially the last gasp of their surf-music era, and what a fun song to end it on. Brian’s falsetto is indescribably delicious, the harmonies great (of course) and the song is just fun. What more do you want? Well, I’d like to sing like Brian on this song, but I don’t want to rupture myself doing it.
9. “Busy Doin’ Nothing” - Friends
You need to hear this song to believe it. It sounds like Brian was just writing an entry in his diary. I kid you not. This was one of the first “Day in the Life” songs he would spin out from 1968-1976, and the best one of the bunch. If you knew where to start, the directions would put you at the house he was living in at the time.
8. “Cabinessence” - 20/20
A song that was to be a centerpiece of the Smile album, “Cabinessence” was one of the songs that caused Mike Love to go off on Brian Wilson, which basically caused Brian to go off the total deep end (instead of halfway off the deep end) and wrecked the project. Thanks, Mike, you total tool. It was rescued for 20/20 and sounds just fabulous. You need to listen to this three times at first – one for the vocals, one for the arrangement, and one to figure out how it all goes together. It’s stunning.
7. “Sail On Sailor” - Holland
Released TWICE as a single, with no dice, and appearing every so often as a cut on FM radio nowadays, this was probably Brian Wilson’s last great Beach Boys song. Sung by Blondie Chaplin (who was an official Beach Boy at the time) with great gusto, this is an instant classic. No one can resist its charms, well, except those idiots in 1973 and 1974 that didn’t buy the single or play it on AM radio. It’s also the only real reason to buy Holland.
6. “Long Promised Road” – Surf’s Up
Carl Wilson’s best song, and another failed single (they released it twice and it barely made the charts the second time). It’s a complicated song with a message that is a bit obfuscated by the language used. However, it’s definitely a joy to listen to, and doesn’t really sound THAT dated, though some of the synthesizers do scream out 1972.
5. “’Til I Die” - Surf’s Up
An absolute stunner of a ballad, I often weep when I hear it. Brian bares his soul for all to hear. The ending vocal tags would move anyone to tears. And as luck would have it, Mike Love, super idiot, almost ix-nayed it for the album because, well, he’s Mike Love.
4. “Our Sweet Love” - Sunflower
Sunflower is probably the best album the Beach Boys released besides Pet Sounds. It was also the lowest charting album they released up until the 80’s, which only proves that the general buying public doesn’t know good music if it hits them in the face. Carl and Brian collaborated on this song. Carl sings it sweetly, and Brian uses one of his best arrangements ever. The use of the strings in the bridge and chorus is absolutely stunning.
3. “Surf’s Up” - Surf’s Up
This was to be one of the centerpieces to Smile and it was previewed by Brian on a TV special. That performance floored everyone. However, Mike Love, the idiot, couldn’t get the lyrics and made fun of it, so it was never completed by the group. In 1972, Warner Brothers tried to convince Brian to allow it to be finished and released. He finally relented, only if “’Til I Die” was included on the album as well. Take that, Love! So they dusted out an instrumental track that was to be used for the song back in 1967, had Carl sing the lead for the first part, then used the second half of Brian’s solo piano performance as the second part, then rescued the unissued song “Child Is Father To The Man” from Smile as the ending coda. All in all, a tremendous record that stuns me to this day. BTW – The Warner Brothers executive that convinced Brian to include it on the album was Van Dyke Parks, who was the lyricist on the track.
2. “This Whole World” - Sunflower
Of all of the Beach Boys songs, this has to be my personal favorite. It was never released as a single (why not?), but it’s a masterpiece in less than two minutes. Brian’s gift for sounds and arrangement are in fine form, and Carl sings this perfectly. Brian even adds a rare (at the time) vocal in the mix. I know I’ve put this on several mix CDs and always rave about it, but it’s not #1, because…
1. “Wonderfulf” - Good Vibrations Box Set.
…this is! Another refugee from Smile. This song has a lot of meaning for me. It’s a sweet, pleasant ballad with a haunting melody. The Smiley Smile version takes all of the sweetness and beauty out of it. I really can’t describe why this is such a moving song for me; I’d suggest you listen for yourself.
So how many of those songs did you know. 10? 15? A half-dozen? The catalog of the Beach Boys is neglected by radio and most of the public, yet it is almost as deep and breathtaking as any other major band. I hope you can seek out and enjoy these songs, because with record companies the way they are, you never know when they’ll disappear again.