Golden Gazette • November 2016 • Page 11
‘Good Vibrations’ The Beach Boys, November 1966 “We’re gonna have either the biggest hit in the world, or the Beach Boys’ career is over.” - band member Bruce Johnston Only Brian Wilson believed in it; everyone else in the group hated “Good Vibrations.” It wasn’t what their fans expected, they argued. It ran too long for radio airplay. Mainly, it was just plain weird. The Beach Boys had become superstars with hits about surfing, hot rods, summer fun and romance. Why mess with a winning formula? But leader Brian insisted he knew what he was doing, that they were all on the verge of something really, really big! Still, Mike Love put off writing the “trippy” lyrics until the day he drove to the recording studio. In his autobiography, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Brian explained his interest in cosmic vibrations. “My mom told me dogs discriminate between people. They like some because the people give off good vibrations. They bite others because they give off bad vibrations.” Early in 1966, Wilson felt he could create a masterpiece about some good, good, good, good vibrations. When the other Beach Boys hit the tour road that Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a rootcanal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
By Randal Hill firstname.lastname@example.org
summer, Brian stayed behind. Now he had the time to stretch out in the recording studio, push beyond boundaries, perhaps set new standards with his music. Into his mix went such eclectic musical instruments as a fuzz bass, a clarinet, a cello, and a harp, as well as an eerie-sounding electronic device called a theremin, a forerunner of the synthesizer. He later admitted, “I threw everything I could think of into the stew.” With no lyrics to guide him, Wilson spent six months in four different studios with a rainbow of new sounds swirling in his head,
everything wrapped around rich Beach Boys harmonies. “Good Vibrations” unfolded in three elaborate, highly textured phases that required numerous studio musicians. (The Beach Boys played no instruments this time.). Randomly taped chord changes and musical bits and pieces melded into a mosaic of fragments that he called “feels.” Dennis Wilson rehearsed the lead vocal, but when he contracted laryngitis, brother Carl stepped in at the last minute -- and nailed it. Later, Brian mixed the track four different times. When he had finished, “Good Vibrations” clocked in at an extremely long 3:35.
The tune, which began as Wilson’s now-iconic psyche70 disjointed hours of re- delic symphony. corded tape, cost Capitol Records $50,000 – more than $350,000 in today’s money -- and became the most expensive single ever recorded. In the end, though, Brian proved himself right. Released that October, “Good Vibrations” moved “We need to talk… 100,000 records in its first about Synergy HomeCare’s four days, shot to Number Arthritis Care Program.” One in both America and Scheduling, transportation & companionship for shopping England, and to date has & errands reportedly sold 16 million Watchful care during recovery copies. from routine treatments This was not just another Changing linens, laundry seven-inch plastic disc of & ironing music but a sonic masterAssistance with gardening piece and one of the finest & light exercise pop-music productions ever. Housekeeping, meal preparation and nutrition With its ethereal layering Help with bathing, dressing of melody and harmony, & personal care “Good Vibrations” showed Call for a free consultation the world how rock ‘n’ roll could be elevated to a valid art form, the indisputable proof being found in Brian
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Published on Oct 25, 2016