gfxgfx
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
logo
 
gfx gfx
gfx
652245 Posts in 26062 Topics by 3717 Members - Latest Member: My1stBonerWasCamDiaz November 21, 2019, 08:28:34 AM
*
gfx*HomeHelpSearchCalendarLoginRegistergfx
gfxgfx
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.       « previous next »
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 Go Down Print
Author Topic: Do you think the early material ('62-'65) is better than Smile?  (Read 22653 times)
guitarfool2002
Global Moderator
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8757


"Barba non facit aliam historici"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #150 on: December 29, 2014, 11:15:50 AM »

A point to consider and one which ties in directly with the topic is how the "early material" and Smile share many of the same lyrical and musical traits. Let's not forget what some of the subject matter and specific lyrics were on the earliest of the early songs and albums.

Consider this: Up to the present day, how many listeners are familiar with the car and hot-rod terminology sung in the so-called "car songs", whether the lyrics were by Usher, Christian, Wilson, or Love? How many listeners and fans do not know what a "Lake pipe" is, what a "solenoid" (and it's various regional variations) is or does, what it means to race for a pink slip, or what "tach it up" really means...or how many fans have ever "tach'ed it up" themselves.

All of that lingo was specific to a niche market of car and hot-rod enthusiasts, especially back in 1962-63. How many people who bought those records actually knew what the hell they were singing about unless they were into hot rods and cars? Yet here were The Beach Boys singing totally foreign-sounding phrases and words, and fans were grooving to the music just the same.

Seriously, consider how many people who really liked the music in 1963 actually knew what Lake pipes are or were. Can you get more abstract than singing words and phrases that less than half (or less) or the general public knew?

Then...go back to the earliest days of the Beach Boys and their defining image...Surfing! Outside of specific coastal areas, and outside of various military members who may have been stationed somewhere where surfing was a thing...who in 1962-63 knew much about it?

Here are the Beach Boys again turning lingo, slang, and specific terms which only surfing fans and surfers knew and used into pop hits. "Surfer knots", "waxing" a board, listening to the radio to get the surf reports, name-checking the best spots in California to surf...seriously, who in the hell knew what any of this stuff meant as they heard the Beach Boys singing about it on those records?

It was niche, it was obscure, it was lingo that only those connected with the surfing and the hot-rod scenes would know directly. It assumes too that a majority of the audience had no clue what "hurachi sandals" or any of the other terms meant, yet like the hot rod songs, they were grooving to the music.

And I'm sure many of them may have taken a step further even back in 1963 and visited a library or a magazine stand to look up what some of this stuff actually referred to, and perhaps kept looking it up to the point where they learned things they had not known before hearing the Beach Boys sing about them.

Kind of like Smile's so-called "obscure" lyrics that could have gotten people listening and interested in learning more about what they were hearing sung as lyrics. "Manifest Destiny...Sandwich Isles...Hmmmm...maybe I'll look up what all that stuff is about!"

And there it is. Just like those who in this past year posted on this board asking about what a solenoid did on a car based on hearing the Beach Boys sing about it. Same thing, different topics.  Smiley
Logged

"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
Lee Marshall
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 1638



View Profile WWW
« Reply #151 on: December 29, 2014, 11:43:25 AM »

Often enough...at least for some of us I would think, it really wasn't so much WHAT they were singing about so much as HOW they actually did it.  If there were a couple of words in there you could latch onto...good enough.  For me it was listen to what they're doing with those voices...the arrangements...the harmonies...the way the vocals just sprang out of the speakers as if they had a life of their own.  [and listening to the vocals only from the Pet Sounds sessions we discovered that they did in fact have a life of their own]

As the subject matter changed...many of us just followed along...mesmerized.  It was the SOUND...and it kept getting more and more complex with each passing album.  Smile would have been the next mountaintop.  I mean Heroes and Villains?  Awesome.  Cabinessense.  How the hell do they DO that?   So lyrics...as important as they are...the KEY for many...really and truly don't mean as much to me.

AND...as a radio guy...there was/is a time when you don't want to know the hit songs any better than you HAVE to.  Play them over and over and over and over...day after day/week after week...and now month after month.  You get sick of them.  You can't let it sound like you're sick of them on the radio.  What I used to do was change the lyrics so that I could sing along using profane and preposterous lyrics in order to amuse myself.  I never did that with Beach Boys tunes...although THEY did...on the Party album.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 11:46:04 AM by Add Some » Logged

"Add Some...Music...To Your Day.  I do.  It's the only way to fly.  Well...what was I gonna put here?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Hum me a few bars."   Lee Marshall [2014]

Donald  TRUMP!  ...  Is TOAST.  "What a disaster."  "Overrated?"... ... ..."BIG LEAGUE."  "Lots of people are saying it"  "I will tell you that."   Collusion, Money Laundering, Treason.   B'Bye Dirty Donnie!!!  Adios!!!  Bon Voyage!!!  Toodles!!!  Move yourself...SPANKY!!!  Jail awaits.  It's NO "Witch Hunt". There IS Collusion...and worse.  The Russian Mafia!!  Conspiracies!!  Fraud!!  This racist is goin' down...and soon.  Good Riddance.  And take the kids.
Debbie Keil-Leavitt
Guest
« Reply #152 on: December 29, 2014, 12:56:03 PM »

"Heroes and Villains" stole my mind for weeks at a time.

I remembered my first hearing, from the "Good Vibrations" box set. The "Cantina" version and then the Smiley version both just had me, like ... DUDE.

I sat in class, writing out the lyrics. I had the song playing constantly in my head. Didn't need it playing. It was the first song that ever just stole my head. This was probably around the time I was 17, when I was writing the lyrics down on a notepad when I should have been listening to the professor more closely. Whatever. I stand by my priorities, even now. Wink

I found the notebooks a couple years back. Pages of notes, often getting patchier as the page next to it or after it started becoming "Heroes and Villains" notes and lyrics and rearrangements. I still passed the class, but boy ... It wouldn't be the last time that the music of the Beach Boys overtook the "more important" priorities of my life. Smiley

I grew up loving the Beatles and knocking the Beach Boys. It took a while for me to learn the error of my ways, but by the time I was 16-17, I was wising up. As enraptured and in love with the music of the Beatles as I was, and still am, no song (not "A Day in the Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Hey Bulldog" or any of my other favorites) just grabbed me and held me and took me over the way "Heroes and Villains" did.

The intro. The loping introduction. "You're under arrest!" The build to the tape explosion. My children were raised. Often wise? I mean ... Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

So much of that song still owns me.

Bits of it almost hypnotize me at points (like some of the parts of the Fairytale Music ... another thing that grabbed me from the Good Vibes box).

"Heroes" has hooks. If anything, maybe it has too many of them. It's a big tapestry piece. I get so much out of the song. I never get tired of it, no matter the mix, version, live performance, etc.

What a miracle of a song, that "Heroes and Villains."



Thanks, that was beautifully written...and thanks to Don, Guitar Fool, Addsome and all of you.  This is the most interesting reading I've seen on this Board.  I feel like I know more about this music than before, and more about you than before.  Great stuff.  One of the gifts of this music is that it makes us think and sort things out and make our own discoveries, and this beyond the powerful feeling of something so amazing it moves us to new places.  

« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 02:03:13 PM by Debbie Keil-Leavitt » Logged
Fire Wind
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 299



View Profile
« Reply #153 on: December 29, 2014, 01:44:44 PM »


Well, as the wise Rockman once said, "You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear. Dig."


Nah, my analysis was pretty sound.

Quote
You are cherry picking examples.

Yes, I cherry-picked, or 'selected', if you will.  I selected relevant lyrics by the folks that were the chief competition for the Beach Boys at the time, not lesser bands and one-hit wonders.  If they wanted to compete with the Beatles, then IMO, they were putting themselves out of the race with these lyrics, if those lyrics did not connect on a mass level, get played on the radio, sell to kiddies and please those looking for new sounds, as well as the blokes down the pub.  Understand that I'm not saying that Mike Love should have written Smile from scratch in his own fashion.  I said 're-write', much as he did with his lyrical improvement of GV.  The themes and much of the lyrics could have remained the same.  I'm talking changes by degrees.  It was a success with the single.  It could've been with the album too.  This is, of course, all pointless alternate-universe stuff I'm coming out with.

Debbie Keil-Leavitt, above, asks if artists should have to pander to the lowest common denominator.  I wasn't saying they should.  My point was that the Beatles did NOT pander lyrically or musically, yet they kept the connection to the pop audience front and centre, alienating nobody at the point at which they were at their most innovative.  That's a way smarter act than suddenly acting with absolute freedom.

Quote
 At the time, those in the "race" didn't get to the top by emulating others.

Brian wasn't emulating anybody by bringing the wordy Van Dyke on board?  Not even Mr. Dylan?  He was moving with the times on that.

I never said Smile wouldn't chart.  But topping the Beatles would have meant bigger things than just charting.  Earlier on this thread, a poster said that Smile in 1967 would have reshaped music history, a notion which hasn't been much questioned.  I'm saying that these just-slightly-too-abstract lyrics might have been a handicap, or part of a handicap (given all the talk about the lack of a single) that could have prevented them from knocking the Beatles off their perch.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 01:46:30 PM by Fire Wind » Logged

I still can taste the ocean breeze...
Lee Marshall
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 1638



View Profile WWW
« Reply #154 on: December 29, 2014, 01:55:49 PM »

That was me who said that...you know...the reshape music history theory.  They had already knocked the Beatles off their perch in Merry Olde...The Melody Maker poll - looking back at 1966.  NOT releasing the album in early '67, while they were riding the crest of HUGE momentum, certainly did NOTHING to reshape any kind of history.  By the time the oh-so-insignifcant "bunt" was finally released that fall in place of 'Smile'...the world had long since passed our heroes by.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 02:07:11 PM by Add Some » Logged

"Add Some...Music...To Your Day.  I do.  It's the only way to fly.  Well...what was I gonna put here?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Hum me a few bars."   Lee Marshall [2014]

Donald  TRUMP!  ...  Is TOAST.  "What a disaster."  "Overrated?"... ... ..."BIG LEAGUE."  "Lots of people are saying it"  "I will tell you that."   Collusion, Money Laundering, Treason.   B'Bye Dirty Donnie!!!  Adios!!!  Bon Voyage!!!  Toodles!!!  Move yourself...SPANKY!!!  Jail awaits.  It's NO "Witch Hunt". There IS Collusion...and worse.  The Russian Mafia!!  Conspiracies!!  Fraud!!  This racist is goin' down...and soon.  Good Riddance.  And take the kids.
Debbie Keil-Leavitt
Guest
« Reply #155 on: December 29, 2014, 02:02:33 PM »

I guess I should have posted this separately...

We can speculate forever about whether "Smile" would have sold competitively in 1967, or not...how accessible it was or wasn't - is or isn't, whether Brian had enough support from his label and others (and why) to compete with the formidable Beatles/George Martin cooperative.  And how could anyone determine who won in the end?  Just record sales?  Or do we need decades or centuries to see what was the most valuable to all of us.

Judging from the writings of all of you here, I'd have to say that this music did - and continues to do - its job.  Any competition between Brian and the Beatles doesn't mean much in the face of what that music has given us.  It provokes love, inspiration, new thoughts year after year, and a pure awe at the beauty available to us.  And most, if not all of us will pony up and pay for the next record with a lot of excitement over what it may or may not be - if purchases are the real measuring stick of its value.  We'll puzzle over some of it only to fall in love with it later, worry about whether it meets our expectations or not, love most something about it, only to have that change the next time we listen to it.  We'll love it like a new friend and an old friend combined.  We already love this music and have some idea of the artist's heart, yet it's a brand new expression from there.  I think we have a lot to look forward to.  

My gut and certain trusted people have convinced me that Brian's heart is in this next one, so it will be valuable and can be considered in a thread like this.  I keep thinking that when artists speak from the depths of their soul or just sing happily about something they love, we get a valuable work.  If they're just trying to crank out something commercial because they're being pressured, or just want the money or to win the competition, then they end up giving birth to a prickly little bastard who mocks them and finds them pathetic.  When anyone aims for popularity alone, they aren't authentic and always miss the mark, as it's already passed them by and the public has found some new shiny object, or hopefully, another authentic artist - or that same artist's next, more sincere effort.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 02:07:45 PM by Debbie Keil-Leavitt » Logged
Mr. Cohen
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1746


View Profile
« Reply #156 on: December 29, 2014, 02:07:55 PM »

Besides even the lyrics, I think the music on Smile isn't necessarily pop gold, either. Brilliantly artistic? Yes. But I don't hear radio hits on Smile. It's highly accessible avant-garde rock music.  "Heroes and Villains" was Brian's attempt to find a commercial middle ground, but it didn't quite hit on the charts. I don't see "Vegetables" doing a lot better.

To expand on my initial post, I'd even say that I enjoy much of Brian's early '70s work - plus Love You - more than Smile. That's not to say I'm not big fan of Smile. I really like it, and there's no denying the brilliance of a song like "Cabinessence". But I find myself listening to the other stuff more.
Logged
Lee Marshall
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 1638



View Profile WWW
« Reply #157 on: December 29, 2014, 02:18:12 PM »

The thing is Mr. C...radio was changing...significantly.  FM was moving into a whole new 'free-form' ball game and radio hits were NOT what they were looking for or programming.  Brian's timing was perfect.  [well...perfect IF the album had been released.]

It wouldn't be all that much longer and albums would be outselling singles and FM radio would over-take AM top 40 stations in the ratings.  Why?  Because that's what the buying and listening public voted to do...with their dollars and with their time. Cool Guy

THAT was 1967 heading into 1968.  THAT'S when the rules all changed.  Brian instinctively must have felt it.  He just missed the boat by a step.

Yet here we all are collectively appreciating what he and the rest of the boys did anyway.  Our numbers could have been greater.  As Debbie points out.  In another 50 to 100 years...they may well be. Drinking Buddies
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 02:22:43 PM by Add Some » Logged

"Add Some...Music...To Your Day.  I do.  It's the only way to fly.  Well...what was I gonna put here?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Hum me a few bars."   Lee Marshall [2014]

Donald  TRUMP!  ...  Is TOAST.  "What a disaster."  "Overrated?"... ... ..."BIG LEAGUE."  "Lots of people are saying it"  "I will tell you that."   Collusion, Money Laundering, Treason.   B'Bye Dirty Donnie!!!  Adios!!!  Bon Voyage!!!  Toodles!!!  Move yourself...SPANKY!!!  Jail awaits.  It's NO "Witch Hunt". There IS Collusion...and worse.  The Russian Mafia!!  Conspiracies!!  Fraud!!  This racist is goin' down...and soon.  Good Riddance.  And take the kids.
KittyKat
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1466



View Profile
« Reply #158 on: December 29, 2014, 02:55:53 PM »

There wasn't that much freeform radio in the USA back in 1967. A few markets, yes, but it wasn't in every city and it didn't draw that large of an audience. The radio regulations didn't officially change until January of 1967, which was the rule that required stations to broadcast different programming on AM and FM. It took a few months/years for that to get all shaken out and for FM to build album oriented rock stations. Freeform became the province of college radio, with smaller audiences. So, no, there wasn't this robust, large FM radio market ready to embrace all that music. It was gradual and it wasn't mature yet at that time, though there were acts that were selling reasonably well and drawing crowds in major cities, without having Top 40 AM hits, even before the evolution of album oriented FM rock. Just not Beatles-sized record sales.
Logged
guitarfool2002
Global Moderator
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8757


"Barba non facit aliam historici"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #159 on: December 29, 2014, 03:05:27 PM »

I feel like some of the points I wrote earlier on this page have been missed, based on the replies so far. If I didn't think it were important to the bigger picture of where Smile came from, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but please hear this out and at least consider it.

Someone over a decade ago who has since passed made a very clear challenge and point about Smile. He told me on a phone call that many of the Smile questions can be traced back to the teenage years in Hawthorne. Some of the humor, some of the recordings that didn't seem to "fit", some of the mysteries in general had some roots in how Brian Wilson was as a teenager before any of the artistic pursuits of 1966 were in play.

One startling example for me came out in the box set promotions. There was an interview where one of the band members described how Brian would have each of them take on the role of a Dixieland jazz instrument and start improvising and riffing as a Dixieland jazz combo would do on stage. There was a vocal fragment in the "Heroes" bucket of recordings that i thought was pretty striking, but had no idea where or what it was trying to do, musically and within the context. Then there was an interview snippet where Al Jardine said something about doing bits of Heroes back in 1961 with the Wilsons...I thought Al *had* to be mistaken. But it turns out he was right on the mark.

It was the Dixieland vocal bit he was remembering in that interview years before the Smile box even came out. And it was clarified when that box did come out...and sure enough, that vocal bit that was a mystery was the Boys emulating a Dixieland band with their voices.

Mystery solved...and the answer was there for years, just needing clarification or maybe a different way of hearing that music. That person who recommended looking back into the Hawthorne years for some of the clues and possible answers was also right on the money.

Consider:

Some of the abstract lyrics, some of the unknown phrases, some of the cryptic lyrics and slang/lingo of Smile...there is such a strong precedent for that in what basically put the Beach Boys on the map in 1962-63. I'll repeat myself with a twist:

They were singing about things, using specific slang and wording that I have no problem estimating most of their potential audiences and listeners as of 1962-63 had *no idea* what they were referring to. If those listeners did seek to understand these references or at least have some idea what the Boys were singing about in those lyrics, they in some cases would have to research it. Find a surfing magazine, talk to a classmate who was in auto shop at school or was into hot rods, buy a copy of "Hot Rod" magazine...whatever the case.

"Oh, so *that's* what they mean by that word 'Posi-Traction'...that's what he means by saying "walk a Thunderbird like she's standing still'!...that's what La Jolla and Waimea are...cool!"

They were singing phrases that were abstract to many if not most of the kids buying their records, unless those kids knew about surfing and hot rods.

The early hits and lyrics were relatable? Based on obscure references that only surfers and hot rodders would know? How does that pan out, exactly? They were doing anything but speaking the common vernacular of boy-meets-girl in this early music. They were using specific lingo which would be abstract if not completely unknown to anyone not into those pursuits in 62-63.

They were also making hit records because in large part the records sounded so damn good and were so catchy. And the fact that some of the lyrical content sounded like a cool secret club you had to join to know what they were celebrating made it more exotic and mysterious.

Then carry that into this group of California teenagers basically creating an entire mythology, where surfing and hot rodding are not only fun activities but also total and complete ways of life!

The California myth at it's finest. Created by one guy with a bad ear who had a natural talent for producing records and writing songs with only basic formal training, various lyricists who knew the lingo and could approximate how the real surfers and hot rodders talked among each other, and a rebellious type brother who was actually in one of these cool cliques and suggested writing a song about surfing since all the local kids were doing it.

And there is the mythology being created by singing lyrics hardly anyone "outside" would know, but whose appeal was in part getting a glimpse into what was happening and being compelled to learn more about all these mysterious phrases.

So how different are some of these more "abstract" lyrics of Smile from a group of guys singing about surfing and hot rodding in 1962-63 to an audience who knew as much about those things on the whole in 1963 as the potential listeners in late 1966-67 (post 'Like A Rolling Stone' rock poetry and free-association lyricism) knew about the Sandwich Isles or "columnated ruins"?

Not too different at all, in retrospect. So how abstract would Smile have been for the same artists to release when they built their musical career making hits and creating a California mythology from lyrics most of their audience would not have understood?
Logged

"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
Debbie Keil-Leavitt
Guest
« Reply #160 on: December 29, 2014, 07:06:08 PM »

I feel like some of the points I wrote earlier on this page have been missed, based on the replies so far. If I didn't think it were important to the bigger picture of where Smile came from, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but please hear this out and at least consider it.

Someone over a decade ago who has since passed made a very clear challenge and point about Smile. He told me on a phone call that many of the Smile questions can be traced back to the teenage years in Hawthorne. Some of the humor, some of the recordings that didn't seem to "fit", some of the mysteries in general had some roots in how Brian Wilson was as a teenager before any of the artistic pursuits of 1966 were in play.

One startling example for me came out in the box set promotions. There was an interview where one of the band members described how Brian would have each of them take on the role of a Dixieland jazz instrument and start improvising and riffing as a Dixieland jazz combo would do on stage. There was a vocal fragment in the "Heroes" bucket of recordings that i thought was pretty striking, but had no idea where or what it was trying to do, musically and within the context. Then there was an interview snippet where Al Jardine said something about doing bits of Heroes back in 1961 with the Wilsons...I thought Al *had* to be mistaken. But it turns out he was right on the mark.

It was the Dixieland vocal bit he was remembering in that interview years before the Smile box even came out. And it was clarified when that box did come out...and sure enough, that vocal bit that was a mystery was the Boys emulating a Dixieland band with their voices.

Mystery solved...and the answer was there for years, just needing clarification or maybe a different way of hearing that music. That person who recommended looking back into the Hawthorne years for some of the clues and possible answers was also right on the money.

Consider:

Some of the abstract lyrics, some of the unknown phrases, some of the cryptic lyrics and slang/lingo of Smile...there is such a strong precedent for that in what basically put the Beach Boys on the map in 1962-63. I'll repeat myself with a twist:

They were singing about things, using specific slang and wording that I have no problem estimating most of their potential audiences and listeners as of 1962-63 had *no idea* what they were referring to. If those listeners did seek to understand these references or at least have some idea what the Boys were singing about in those lyrics, they in some cases would have to research it. Find a surfing magazine, talk to a classmate who was in auto shop at school or was into hot rods, buy a copy of "Hot Rod" magazine...whatever the case.

"Oh, so *that's* what they mean by that word 'Posi-Traction'...that's what he means by saying "walk a Thunderbird like she's standing still'!...that's what La Jolla and Waimea are...cool!"

They were singing phrases that were abstract to many if not most of the kids buying their records, unless those kids knew about surfing and hot rods.

The early hits and lyrics were relatable? Based on obscure references that only surfers and hot rodders would know? How does that pan out, exactly? They were doing anything but speaking the common vernacular of boy-meets-girl in this early music. They were using specific lingo which would be abstract if not completely unknown to anyone not into those pursuits in 62-63.

They were also making hit records because in large part the records sounded so damn good and were so catchy. And the fact that some of the lyrical content sounded like a cool secret club you had to join to know what they were celebrating made it more exotic and mysterious.

Then carry that into this group of California teenagers basically creating an entire mythology, where surfing and hot rodding are not only fun activities but also total and complete ways of life!

The California myth at it's finest. Created by one guy with a bad ear who had a natural talent for producing records and writing songs with only basic formal training, various lyricists who knew the lingo and could approximate how the real surfers and hot rodders talked among each other, and a rebellious type brother who was actually in one of these cool cliques and suggested writing a song about surfing since all the local kids were doing it.

And there is the mythology being created by singing lyrics hardly anyone "outside" would know, but whose appeal was in part getting a glimpse into what was happening and being compelled to learn more about all these mysterious phrases.

So how different are some of these more "abstract" lyrics of Smile from a group of guys singing about surfing and hot rodding in 1962-63 to an audience who knew as much about those things on the whole in 1963 as the potential listeners in late 1966-67 (post 'Like A Rolling Stone' rock poetry and free-association lyricism) knew about the Sandwich Isles or "columnated ruins"?

Not too different at all, in retrospect. So how abstract would Smile have been for the same artists to release when they built their musical career making hits and creating a California mythology from lyrics most of their audience would not have understood?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I only thanked you and didn't take your specific comments any further because I thought you said it so well and so effectively. 

Those of us who weren't into cars or didn't live anywhere near the beach so loved the music that it didn't matter that we didn't relate to the lyrics terribly well.  Some of us weren't even males with that point of view, but that was no problem either.  The lyrics were definitely abstract to many of us  for those reasons alone.  Because of the great music, we got the feeling and whatever lyrics we didn't understand we were moved to romanticize and have our own images to fit the music.  I don't think I was crying about someone else's car getting old when I heard "Ballad of Ol' Betsy."  When the music is that powerful, how immediately relate-able do the lyrics need to be? 

People get it even if they don't speak the language, or it isn't their first language or culture.  I found it interesting that the best fan letters I read back in the Ivar offices (from my teenage fan girl point of view) were the ones from Japan.  They wrote their own inspired poetry in celebration of the beauty of the music, with English not being their first language.  They got it in Tokyo and Kobe where the culture and language were different.  From what I read from them, they heard the beauty and it became Haiku in their heads...That's pretty abstract, yet still a valid response, actually a really beautiful response.
Logged
guitarfool2002
Global Moderator
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8757


"Barba non facit aliam historici"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #161 on: December 29, 2014, 07:50:47 PM »

 Smiley Debbie, just to clarify what I said wasn't in reply to anything you wrote, and your most recent post above sums up and backs up nearly everything I've been thinking and expressing about the abstract versus relatable lyrics. Fantastic insight, especially about the non-English-speaking fans who were compelled to write. That gets to the heart of it.

What you wrote also backs up exactly my point that Smile was not the grand, sudden and shocking departure from what Brian had been doing since he was in his teens - as some in this thread and previously have suggested. Rather, it feels like the same musician and artist going after many of the same pursuits in similar ways but adjusting them to both the times and his age (and priorities). And, specific to both the surfing-cars AND Smile, what was going on around him as he wrote the music and often collaborated on the lyrics.

Roger Christian was on board because he knew the hot rod culture personally, he was a true dyed-in-the-wool gearhead from the time he wasn't legally able to drive a car. He lived the scene, he knew the talk and Brian's music needed that kind of authenticity. Same with Usher, Love, and whoever else added their input on everything from surfing to love won and lost. It was a terrific arrangement that spawned some of the best music of the past 50 years, hands down.

Smile was developing as 1966 Los Angeles was happening around Brian and everyone else who opened their eyes and ears to pick up on it. LA was ahead of the so-called "Summer Of Love" by at least a year, if you knew where to find it. And Brian Wilson happened to be in the eye of the storm which would soon develop into things well beyond Sunset Strip clubs and bookstore cafes. So he had a lyricist who was also tuned in, who could express the thoughts in words that would invite listeners into that world...just like the surfing and car lingo supplied by those collaborators did for audiences a few years prior when Brian's world was surrounded by surfers and hot rodders. The fans may not have known exactly what some or many of the phrases actually meant, but it was an invitation to both learn more and to come into the scene to share the discoveries and celebrate it.

It worked with surf and cars. Smile worked too, it still does. I'm just on a kick right now trying to do my best to suggest there is little or no difference between what Gary Usher and Roger Christian brought into the mix by way of unknown phrases and abstract imagery relevant to 1962 and 1963 as Van Dyke Parks brought into the mix with what was relevant in 1966 and 1967.

They're really not too far removed conceptually, with the obvious difference being the subject matter of their abstractions having changed with the times surrounding their creation.

And that connection is something that I really think is vital to these kinds of discussions, especially where terms like accessible and relatable start appearing.  Wink
Logged

"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
Lee Marshall
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 1638



View Profile WWW
« Reply #162 on: December 29, 2014, 08:07:55 PM »

Makes 100% sense to me...and my ears.  But I didn't have a problem with it back THEN either.

Someone 'took me to task 'cause they thought I suggested earlier that we were stupid back then.  I actually was asking a question which could have been prefaced with What??? We were stupid?  Or Why?  Did you think we were stupid?  Or whatever.  The point was that we WEREN'T stupid...then...or now.

We do tend to over analyse 'beautiful' don't we? Cool Guy
Logged

"Add Some...Music...To Your Day.  I do.  It's the only way to fly.  Well...what was I gonna put here?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Hum me a few bars."   Lee Marshall [2014]

Donald  TRUMP!  ...  Is TOAST.  "What a disaster."  "Overrated?"... ... ..."BIG LEAGUE."  "Lots of people are saying it"  "I will tell you that."   Collusion, Money Laundering, Treason.   B'Bye Dirty Donnie!!!  Adios!!!  Bon Voyage!!!  Toodles!!!  Move yourself...SPANKY!!!  Jail awaits.  It's NO "Witch Hunt". There IS Collusion...and worse.  The Russian Mafia!!  Conspiracies!!  Fraud!!  This racist is goin' down...and soon.  Good Riddance.  And take the kids.
bgas
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 6372


Oh for the good old days


View Profile
« Reply #163 on: December 29, 2014, 08:36:32 PM »

Makes 100% sense to me...and my ears.  But I didn't have a problem with it back THEN either.

Someone 'took me to task 'cause they thought I suggested earlier that we were stupid back then.  I actually was asking a question which could have been prefaced with What??? We were stupid?  Or Why?  Did you think we were stupid?  Or whatever.  The point was that we WEREN'T stupid...then...or now.

We do tend to over analyse 'beautiful' don't we? Cool Guy

I'd say that most of us understood without the need for a ?, tho of course there are always those too blind to see
Logged

Nothing I post is my opinion, it's all a message from God
GhostyTMRS
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 722



View Profile
« Reply #164 on: December 29, 2014, 10:11:17 PM »

Personally, I see the music from 1961 up to SMiLE as being one era: The era where Brian called the shots and was in top form. It's like listening to a flower bloom. Guitarfool is right in that lyrically and musically it's all of one piece.

While my favorite (or at least the most interesting) era of the Beach Boys is immediately after SMiLE collapses, I don't harbor any illusions that the music The Beach Boys recorded between 1961 and 1967 didn't profoundly change the world in a way that the material they recorded afterwards didn't and couldn't.

Logged
luckyoldsmile
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 61



View Profile
« Reply #165 on: December 30, 2014, 01:24:52 AM »

Not necessarily relevant to this discussion, though perhaps it is -- I apologize in advance for this diversion:

Many times, with many people, I've listened to many songs, and even with "straightforward" lyrics, found that a lot of people don't always pay attention to the narrative. They don't get the gist. They don't know what the verse was.

"Don't bore us, get to the chorus" kinds of situations.

Radio when I was in the high school (later 1990s) wasn't exactly filled with the most verbose, intellectually challenging music. That's not to say the music wasn't being made, but it was the lighter, brighter, hookier pop that was getting the major nod.

I grew up in the days when Hanson were "MMbopping" and Nickelback were rising and the Spice Girls were telling us what they want (what they really really want). Different strokes for different folks. At the time, I was judging my friends quite harshly, as I had my headphones on and was relistening to "Abbey Road" for the thousandth time.

There was Oasis. Nirvana. Green Day. Pearl Jam. Stone Temple Pilots. Rage Against the Machine. Nine Inch Nails. There was a lot of variety, there was shock. There was Marilyn Manson.

But meh. Really, I don't know that radio really mattered to most of us in the 1990s. I still had a cassette deck in my car (and my personal CD player that I could run through the deck). My friends in high school were getting into CD burning, so there was a lot of sharing that way. Radio was ... boring. John Mellencamp, the Eagles, Foreigner, Styx ... Not bad acts themselves (well ... guess it depends on what you like), but very safe stuff. Stuff you could listen to with your parents and not get too many looks. Homogenized. Nothing wrong with vanilla, but vanilla is seldom the attractive flavor on the shelf.

Maybe that's why the Good Vibrations box with the Smile stuff really stood out to me. Because it was SO DIFFERENT to me at that time. It caught my attention because there was nothing like it at the time. Champagne Supernovas vs. Wind Chimes. One I could find without too much problem, the other was hidden away on a box set that no radio station in my state probably even owned, much less cared about. For a vanilla palette, I was now in a world of hundreds of flavors (if not more).

Smile, in the world of 1966/1967/1968 had a lot of comparable, challenging, pushing-the-boundaries stuff. A Whiter Shade of Pale? Sure. "Forever Changes." The Doors. That "Porpoise Song." "Strawberry Fields Forever." "Blonde on Blonde." The first (two) Pink Floyd album(s). And a hundred others. Would it have made waves with all the competition (not just "Sgt. Pepper)? Who can say. A lot of people guess, and always will. And with good reason. Definitely. But I'll give credit where it's due, and that's to say that "Sgt. Pepper" probably paved the way for me to get into "Smile," and that the two together helped get me into Love's "Forever Changes," and so on and so on.

The 2004 release, better promotion than 1966/1967? The music more likely to be a hit in 2004 because of the hype? The mythology? The years of revivals and all the questions? Could be.

I was born in 1980. My dad liked the Beach Boys, my mom liked some of their songs, my younger brother got some cassettes of their music when I was getting into the Beatles, but I can easily say that never in my lifetime up until the last handful of years were the Beach Boys any sort of real "modern, commercially exciting" act except for the "Kokomo" period. So my classmates, my friends, the neighborhood kids, we weren't clammoring about Beach Boys, radio play, concerts, etc. Lots of New Kids on the Block excitement. MC Hammer. Vanilla Ice. Eventually Pink Floyd. The Rolling Stones. Paul McCartney. But never the Beach Boys.

When BWPS was released, I remember there being almost as much backlash BECAUSE of the myths / hype as there was a boost from it. People my age were hearing how special and important this music was and weren't particularly overwhelmed with how challenging / different / downright magical the stuff was just because "some guy" with mental / drug / emotional issues finally released some stuff that seemed noisy and disjointed (to them).

In the 1990s, as I remember them, as a jaded teen at the end of them, made me disinclined to accept the judgments of others. Mariah Carey was a genius in many people's eyes / ears. Eric Clapton was trying to Change the World. Babyface was a phenom. So Brian Wilson in 2004? Genius? Releasing a  work of art? Some folks just didn't care, and were disinclined to buy into it ( -- let me make a distinction, I was not a part of that crowd).

And that last point may also be a relatively important one for members of this board to rally around. Many of us are not a part of that crowd, or any real crowd, except for the (growing) pool of fans of the Beach Boys / Brian Wilson / Dennis Wilson / Carl Wilson / Mike Love / Al Jardine / Bruce Johnston / Blondie Chaplin / Ricky Fataar / (insert your favorite additional sideman / collaborator / musician here). I can't speak for the rest of you, and wouldn't want to, but I'd bet that it's a fair guess that many of us weren't necessarily into the "hip" stuff (except for those of you who were lucky enough to live through the original rush of the Sixties). I'm sure many members even pride themselves on NOT being into popular stuff. That's cool. Like what you like.

I've never been a Kanye West guy. Don't hate him, just don't care. Britney Spears? Not interested. Kesha? Don't know that I could pick her face (or one of her songs) out of a lineup. Taylor Swift? I've tried, can't do it. Doesn't mean they aren't all worthy artists or that they don't deserve fans. I just don't personally care. They have hits. A lot of them. Big hits. Hugely commercial interests, those folks. They are hip (or have been hip, or could be hip again).

I was listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles and Queen and the Boomtown Rats when the kids my age were listening to Eminem and Blink-182 and Sugar Ray. I just am not plugged into the "popular" thing. Not knocking it, I'm just not a part of it.

I just don't get wrapped up into whether something would have been a hit in 1967, or if it was better that it came out in 2004. There are so many good arguments, both ways. Some music just ... transcends time, but isn't ever going to be A HIT. Sure, BWPS / TSS were huge in their own way. Charting in an age where charting is a bit easier than it was in 1967. But if my coworker doesn't own a copy of the album, I don't feel like my enjoyment of the album is changed in any particular way (and boy, I've bought and given away so many copies of BWPS and TLOS, doing the evangelistic thing). But I don't get too wrapped up in the "what could have beens." I understand why people do, and I'm sure I've engaged in that before myself. And I'm not trying to hijack this thread or change the topic. I'm not trying to rechannel the "would people have understood the lyrics" and "people didn't understand earlier lyrics, either, but they figured it out ... or didn't" thing.

I guess I'm just grateful that music comes out. Whenever it does. And that when I'm ready for it, it's there. I'm lucky. Really damn lucky. A lot of people have passed away who were HUGE fans and certainly more deserving than me, and I got it. I got it all (well, all so far). I've seen Brian Wilson tour! Several times! I've got a couple legit versions of Smile, not just bootlegs! WOOOOO!

I'm just pretty darn thankful, I guess.

Thanks to you all, for giving so many engaging ideas. The discussion is always so interesting. Sure, sometimes there are arguments and personal swipes and agendas and whatever, but getting beyond the surface muck to the purer waters below it, finding that river of absolute fandom we all dwell in, that's pretty reaffirming for me. I may not be plugged into "what's popular," and I may not require the affirmation of whether or not the music I like is a "chart topper," but it's great to have a community that at least gets as geeky and excited about a release of a new mix of an alternate take of an album cut from 1964 that no one else in my city, or county, could pretend to even KNOW about.

So that's pretty special. All props to the music. And to the Beach Boys for making it.

I love the music before Smile and after Smile. And I love Smile. I love it all. Bring on a "Love You" deluxe edition. A box of "L.A." sessions? Yes, please. Heck, I'd take a "state fair, live appearances" box set from the later 1980s. Bring it all on. Loves me some Beach Boys music.

All apologies for the rambling.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2014, 01:32:31 AM by luckyoldsmile » Logged

Won't you help me find the key?
luckyoldsmile
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 61



View Profile
« Reply #166 on: December 30, 2014, 01:49:54 AM »

My last thing for the night ...

"The Little Girl I Once Knew" is owning my heart tonight. Whew. Good lord. What couldn't the Beach Boys do? Smiley

Got some new headphones for Christmas, wanted to break them in properly. Wife went to bed, so I'm giving the Beach Boys the spotlight tonight. Beautiful.


Logged

Won't you help me find the key?
Sheriff John Stone
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 5309



View Profile
« Reply #167 on: December 30, 2014, 07:46:57 AM »

With the early songs (1961-64), when The Beach Boys were singing about fads, which by definition was something new, trendy, or even "cool", the lyrics were still relatable. I wasn't familiar with every car "part" they included, couldn't find a 4-speed dual-quad positraction without a manual, but I knew they were singing about a car, and I could relate to that. I liked the way it sounded, I liked the way it felt. The same thing applies to the surf songs. Was a gremmy and a hodad a good guy or a bad guy? I couldn't find the surfing spots named in "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin' U.S.A." without a map. It didn't matter. Again I knew what they were singing about - surfing! - and it sounded and felt so good.

The lyrics and subject matter were only a part of the reason(s) for the success of those early songs. One could argue that they fell somewhere behind the melody, arrangement, and vocal performance. But I think it would be ignorant to NOT give them some credit. I know a singer/lyricist who would give them a lot of credit, at least the subject matter itself. Wink

Now, flash forward to SMiLE. I often think that for Brian it might've been a case of "be careful what you ask for..." Brian sought out Van Dyke Parks; he wanted somebody to write "arty" lyrics, something different from past subjects/concepts; he wanted to "push the envelope". Well, Van Dyke took care of that, maybe too well. And I think Brian blinked.

Not to get into the whole debate again, but I think there were a number (maybe even 5 or 6) of real reasons that Brian scrapped SMiLE in 1967. I have to think the unrelatable lyrics were one of them. Did Brian know they were good? Hell yeah. Were the lyrics something that Brian expected when he employed Van Dyke Parks? I would think yes. Did Brian like them? Probably. Did Brian think that "his fans" or even the general listening public would relate to them or LIKE them? I'm not so sure. I think he was seriously second-guessing them, for various reasons.

To avoid getting banned  Tongue let me first say this. I love "Surf's Up". It is essential to SMiLE. I end all my SMiLE mixes with "Surf's Up". I'm glad Brian recorded it; I'm glad it was released. I think Carl's and Brian's vocal performances were among the best of their careers. The arrangement is magical. It is a true work of art. There still hasn't been anything recorded quite like it. And then there's the lyrics.

I read the interview (first in the Byron Preiss book) where Brian explained what "Surf's Up" meant. While I "got" some of the lyrics and references before reading the interview, I didn't really know what the song meant until I read Brian's explanation. Maybe Brian felt that many of his fans wouldn't understand, relate - or enjoy - the songs/lyrics without a manual.

I'll take it a step further, specifically the relating and enjoying part. Again, I love "Surf's Up". I never get tired of listening to it. Brian deserved the right to create, record, and release this work of art, regardless of whether fans "got it" or bought ($$$$) it. However, I have to admit that I don't FEEL it or am touched by it the way I am touched by other BW/BB songs. Well, of course I'm not; it's not THAT kind of song. But it could be considered important, at least I think it was, in relation to Brian's thought process in 1967. I know - and I think Brian knew - that "a diamond necklace played the pawn, hand in hand some drummed along, to a handsome mannered baton" wasn't gonna be related or  ENJOYED like "as I drove away I felt a tear, it hit me I was losing someone dear, told my folks I would be alright, tossed and I turned, my head was so heavy..."

Again, Brian had the right to pursue his art, and I think had SMiLE been released, it would've gone Top 10, even without a Top 10 single. Would've the avant-garde music been a drawback? As beautiful and stunning as it was...yes, probably. But, eventually the music would've been, not only accepted, but praised. It would've won out. It's that good, it's that great. The lyrics? That's another question. I mean, I'm still not entirely sure what ALL of "Surf's Up", "Wonderful", and "He Gives Speeches" means. Grin But, I FEEL IT when I hear "sitting in class she sets my soul on fire, God please let us go on this way" or "it's three o'clock, I go to my sink, I pour some milk, and I start to think, is she awake..." And that's important. It was to Brian, too, in 1967.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2014, 09:34:40 AM by Sheriff John Stone » Logged
Micha
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 3133



View Profile WWW
« Reply #168 on: December 30, 2014, 09:10:51 AM »

A point to consider and one which ties in directly with the topic is how the "early material" and Smile share many of the same lyrical and musical traits. Let's not forget what some of the subject matter and specific lyrics were on the earliest of the early songs and albums.

Consider this: Up to the present day, how many listeners are familiar with the car and hot-rod terminology sung in the so-called "car songs", whether the lyrics were by Usher, Christian, Wilson, or Love? How many listeners and fans do not know what a "Lake pipe" is, what a "solenoid" (and it's various regional variations) is or does, what it means to race for a pink slip, or what "tach it up" really means...or how many fans have ever "tach'ed it up" themselves.

All of that lingo was specific to a niche market of car and hot-rod enthusiasts, especially back in 1962-63. How many people who bought those records actually knew what the hell they were singing about unless they were into hot rods and cars? Yet here were The Beach Boys singing totally foreign-sounding phrases and words, and fans were grooving to the music just the same.

Seriously, consider how many people who really liked the music in 1963 actually knew what Lake pipes are or were. Can you get more abstract than singing words and phrases that less than half (or less) or the general public knew?

Then...go back to the earliest days of the Beach Boys and their defining image...Surfing! Outside of specific coastal areas, and outside of various military members who may have been stationed somewhere where surfing was a thing...who in 1962-63 knew much about it?

Here are the Beach Boys again turning lingo, slang, and specific terms which only surfing fans and surfers knew and used into pop hits. "Surfer knots", "waxing" a board, listening to the radio to get the surf reports, name-checking the best spots in California to surf...seriously, who in the hell knew what any of this stuff meant as they heard the Beach Boys singing about it on those records?

It was niche, it was obscure, it was lingo that only those connected with the surfing and the hot-rod scenes would know directly. It assumes too that a majority of the audience had no clue what "hurachi sandals" or any of the other terms meant, yet like the hot rod songs, they were grooving to the music.

And I'm sure many of them may have taken a step further even back in 1963 and visited a library or a magazine stand to look up what some of this stuff actually referred to, and perhaps kept looking it up to the point where they learned things they had not known before hearing the Beach Boys sing about them.

Kind of like Smile's so-called "obscure" lyrics that could have gotten people listening and interested in learning more about what they were hearing sung as lyrics. "Manifest Destiny...Sandwich Isles...Hmmmm...maybe I'll look up what all that stuff is about!"

And there it is. Just like those who in this past year posted on this board asking about what a solenoid did on a car based on hearing the Beach Boys sing about it. Same thing, different topics.  Smiley

You just convinced me that the early material in fact IS better than SMiLE. You're right, the lyrics are just as inaccessible as SMiLE's, so the music must be that better. Cheesy

That said, I'm convinced SMiLE would have found a cult following, and it would be regarded as one of those 1967 classics like "Their Satanic Majesties Request" or "The Who Sell Out". Would SMiLE have charted well? YES OF COURSE IT WOULD HAVE. Early 1967 it would have been pulled by Good Vibrations' success, and nobody would claim it's a shitty album. I assume it would have done about as well as Pet Sounds. No way that SMiLE would have been as widely loved as the Sgt. Pepper's album, due to the lyrics to some extent IMHO. Perhaps Mike would have penned more accessible lyrics than Van Dyke, we'll never know, Good Vibrations' lyrics certainly are pretty accessible. But could he have done a whole album in that quality? It would have been hard to do.

One more thing about the music: my father, born in 1947, doesn't know English, so he never understood any lyric, so SMiLE's lyrics couldn't put him off - he just doesn't like SMiLE music, neither does he like Sunflower... but loves the early stuff.

My friends of my age who are mindful about music, they like SMiLE (I do too) and find it interesting, but the casual music consumers among them are always put off. One even said during Cabin Essence: "Can you put real music back on again?" It seems we have to accept that with all of SMiLE's artistic merits, it just isn't a lot of people's beef.

And I agree with most of what the Sheriff said above.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 09:53:32 AM by Micha » Logged

Ceterum censeo SMiLEBrianum OSDumque esse excludendos banno.
rab2591
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 4960


"My God. It's full of stars."


View Profile
« Reply #169 on: December 30, 2014, 09:46:46 AM »

Bernstein said of Surf's Up that it was "grown out of the ferment that is today's pop culture". There's a reason why Leonard f-ing Bernstein praised the lyrics of Surf's Up - Brian's new music was exploring new paths/boundaries of pop-music in an abstract but relatable sense. 'Surf's Up' is relatable as it's a song about a crumbling culture. Yes, it is abstract, but it's not like you can't decipher the lyrics without a great deal of thought.

Wonderful is relatable if you take two seconds to think about the words. You Are My Sunshine is one of the most heartbreaking bits of music Brian ever recorded - because it's a song about relatable heartbreak. Heroes and Villains is almost like 'That's Not Me' in the sense that it's about a man who seeks adventure, gets caught up in chaos, lives through life, etc. Cabin Essence is very much a love song with interludes of abstract imagery in the chorus/coda.

Obscure lyrics are all over Smile, no doubt. But even then, as Bernstein says of Surf's Up, "poetic, beautiful, even in it's obscurity". I think some people forget that beauty, even when abstract, is something every human being relates to.
Logged

Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
Lowbacca
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3595


please let me wonder


View Profile
« Reply #170 on: December 30, 2014, 10:17:54 AM »

Bernstein said of Surf's Up that it was "grown out of the ferment that is today's pop culture". There's a reason why Leonard f-ing Bernstein praised the lyrics of Surf's Up - Brian's new music was exploring new paths/boundaries of pop-music in an abstract but relatable sense. 'Surf's Up' is relatable as it's a song about a crumbling culture. Yes, it is abstract, but it's not like you can't decipher the lyrics without a great deal of thought.

Wonderful is relatable if you take two seconds to think about the words. You Are My Sunshine is one of the most heartbreaking bits of music Brian ever recorded - because it's a song about relatable heartbreak. Heroes and Villains is almost like 'That's Not Me' in the sense that it's about a man who seeks adventure, gets caught up in chaos, lives through life, etc. Cabin Essence is very much a love song with interludes of abstract imagery in the chorus/coda.

Obscure lyrics are all over Smile, no doubt. But even then, as Bernstein says of Surf's Up, "poetic, beautiful, even in it's obscurity". I think some people forget that beauty, even when abstract, is something every human being relates to.
Great post.
Logged
SMiLE Brian
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 8141



View Profile
« Reply #171 on: December 30, 2014, 10:43:48 AM »

Rab is totally right. The lyrics were totally accessible for the times. It was the time of the American people questioning traditional values in the counterculture. The early 1960s were a light year away due to the turmoil of the decade.
Logged

And production aside, Id so much rather hear a 14 year old David Marks shred some guitar on Chug-a-lug than hear a 51 year old Mike Love sing about bangin some chick in a swimming pool.-rab2591
Debbie Keil-Leavitt
Guest
« Reply #172 on: December 30, 2014, 11:00:41 AM »

Smiley Debbie, just to clarify what I said wasn't in reply to anything you wrote, and your most recent post above sums up and backs up nearly everything I've been thinking and expressing about the abstract versus relatable lyrics. Fantastic insight, especially about the non-English-speaking fans who were compelled to write. That gets to the heart of it.

What you wrote also backs up exactly my point that Smile was not the grand, sudden and shocking departure from what Brian had been doing since he was in his teens - as some in this thread and previously have suggested. Rather, it feels like the same musician and artist going after many of the same pursuits in similar ways but adjusting them to both the times and his age (and priorities). And, specific to both the surfing-cars AND Smile, what was going on around him as he wrote the music and often collaborated on the lyrics.

Roger Christian was on board because he knew the hot rod culture personally, he was a true dyed-in-the-wool gearhead from the time he wasn't legally able to drive a car. He lived the scene, he knew the talk and Brian's music needed that kind of authenticity. Same with Usher, Love, and whoever else added their input on everything from surfing to love won and lost. It was a terrific arrangement that spawned some of the best music of the past 50 years, hands down.

Smile was developing as 1966 Los Angeles was happening around Brian and everyone else who opened their eyes and ears to pick up on it. LA was ahead of the so-called "Summer Of Love" by at least a year, if you knew where to find it. And Brian Wilson happened to be in the eye of the storm which would soon develop into things well beyond Sunset Strip clubs and bookstore cafes. So he had a lyricist who was also tuned in, who could express the thoughts in words that would invite listeners into that world...just like the surfing and car lingo supplied by those collaborators did for audiences a few years prior when Brian's world was surrounded by surfers and hot rodders. The fans may not have known exactly what some or many of the phrases actually meant, but it was an invitation to both learn more and to come into the scene to share the discoveries and celebrate it.

It worked with surf and cars. Smile worked too, it still does. I'm just on a kick right now trying to do my best to suggest there is little or no difference between what Gary Usher and Roger Christian brought into the mix by way of unknown phrases and abstract imagery relevant to 1962 and 1963 as Van Dyke Parks brought into the mix with what was relevant in 1966 and 1967.

They're really not too far removed conceptually, with the obvious difference being the subject matter of their abstractions having changed with the times surrounding their creation.

And that connection is something that I really think is vital to these kinds of discussions, especially where terms like accessible and relatable start appearing.  Wink

I knew your post wasn't a specific reply to me...I just wanted you to know that we valued and understood what you said.

I guess we have to define "abstract" here to deal with all this, and that would be another path that might just take us away from the wonder of the music.  It is "wonder-ful."  Some people love the old stuff, some the new - many, many love both...While I listen to "Smile" and "BW Reimagines GG" more than anything else these days, that doesn't mean that I don't love the old stuff.  "Car Crazy Cutie" always makes me fill with joy.  So does "Warmth of the Sun."  I think comparing and labeling is the booby prize in all of this...
Logged
Dancing Bear
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1371



View Profile
« Reply #173 on: December 30, 2014, 11:07:41 AM »

It would take four or five hits with the caliber of Good Vibrations to make the Beach Boys the #1 group in the world, combined with a huge flop of the Beatles '67 new album. It's not about rooting for this or another band, that's how things were in 1967.
Logged

I'm fat as a cow oh how'd I ever get this way!
Lee Marshall
Smiley Smile Associate
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 1638



View Profile WWW
« Reply #174 on: December 30, 2014, 11:24:19 AM »

"combined with a huge flop of the Beatles '67 new album."


And that's what happened.  After Pepper....Magical Mystery Tour was a bit of a/a LOT of a flop by John, Paul, George and Ringo standards.  As was the video accompaniment.  The door was wide open.

And we waited...and we waited...and we waited.  And the world kept turning and spinning w/o Smile which was finally incinerated, and destroyed, and lost forever.

But at least we had She's Goin Bald, Gettin Hungry, Fall Breaks Back Into Winter. and Whistle In to compete with...
Magical Mystery Tour, Baby You're a Rich Man, Flying and I Am the Walrus.

Hard to understand how the Beatles, even with that failed Magical Mystery Tour project, ever managed to catch and pass the Beach Boys again given the OFF year they had thanks to MMT.

But as they cautioned our boys with the unopposed success of SPLHCB ...Life goes on within you...AND without you.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2014, 11:26:51 AM by Add Some » Logged

"Add Some...Music...To Your Day.  I do.  It's the only way to fly.  Well...what was I gonna put here?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Hum me a few bars."   Lee Marshall [2014]

Donald  TRUMP!  ...  Is TOAST.  "What a disaster."  "Overrated?"... ... ..."BIG LEAGUE."  "Lots of people are saying it"  "I will tell you that."   Collusion, Money Laundering, Treason.   B'Bye Dirty Donnie!!!  Adios!!!  Bon Voyage!!!  Toodles!!!  Move yourself...SPANKY!!!  Jail awaits.  It's NO "Witch Hunt". There IS Collusion...and worse.  The Russian Mafia!!  Conspiracies!!  Fraud!!  This racist is goin' down...and soon.  Good Riddance.  And take the kids.
gfx
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 Go Up Print 
gfx
Jump to:  
gfx
Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Page created in 0.145 seconds with 22 queries.
Helios Multi design by Bloc
gfx
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!