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Author Topic: Why Brian Dumped Mike: Exhibit A, "California Girls"  (Read 7682 times)
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« Reply #100 on: December 01, 2016, 10:57:36 AM »

Never mind the sound of this production, but one of the first lyrics has the line "It's time to party now and have some fun, put down your school books, your work away, we'll have a party if you wanna play...". At some point you do have to move on, and having a guy in his 40's saying put down your school books and party becomes pure parody.

This is a small fragment of your argument and my instinct is to agree but at the same time I also think about how a song like Rock Around the Clock was one of the most significant rock and roll teen anthems and it was written by a 28 year old. Similarly Chuck Berry is writing a song like School Day at the age of 30. I recognize, of course, that there is a difference between someone in their 40s and someone who is 28-30. However, is there a credible cut off? Or is the idea that while it worked for Bill Haley and Chuck Berry in the 50s, it wouldn't have worked for them to be writing about the same themes 20 years later?
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« Reply #101 on: December 01, 2016, 10:59:16 AM »

I can't help but think of "Hello Goodbye" at this point. First, I love that record because it sounds amazing, it's catchy, and I could listen to Ringo's drumming on that song all day. But - The lyrics are a nursery rhyme. Nothing there of substance at all, just rhyming couplets that lead to the payoff which is actually the melody working over the chords and groove.

But...consider this single was dropped by the one band who was the face of the literate rock movement, the band who had a few months prior dropped what many called **the** literary rock album of that time Sgt Pepper...and here they were putting out Hello Goodbye which has the most simple lyrics, yet it became a smash hit the same year as Pepper, Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane, etc.

And on the Capitol flip side was I Am The Walrus, which was Lennon's literary Lewis Carroll fantasy sugar-cube lyrics on full display sung through a distorted preamp so Lennon could sound as if he were singing from the moon. Such was the time when all of this would coexist. "You say yes, I say no, you say stop, I say go"...."Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye, Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess, boy, you've been a naughty girl you let your knickers down" available on 45rpm at Woolworth's music dept for 79 cents.

Hello Goodbye is kind of inane when you take it at its surface. However, I feel like it could be interpreted as a metaphor for hope and youth, and in the 60s, that meant a lot. (I wasn't there, but...) I could see a teenager agreeing with the "You say stop and I say go, go, go..." in regards to their parents or the older generation in general. That's how I interpreted the song, even if McCartney didn't intend it that way. So in that sense, it seemed more sophisticated than "Well East Coast girls are hip, I really dig the styles they wear..." And I have no problem with the California Girls lyrics. It's just , as you say, that it was clear that this was as far as Mike Love could go in terms of sophistication.

That's how I take the song too, Amy. It was kind of an encapsulation of the exuberance and hopefulness of the youth in 1967.
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« Reply #102 on: December 01, 2016, 11:03:41 AM »

It really does become a parody to try chasing the past, it can feel like a guy in his mid-40's going back to his old high school carrying a football and telling the kids "I was the quarterback for the Cougars when we won the state title...", and the kids could care less.
 

Mike basically became Al "4 touchdowns in 1 game" Bundy.
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« Reply #103 on: December 01, 2016, 11:07:56 AM »

Yeah I thought about that too, why does Mike catch a ton of heat while Chuck Berry doesn't?  My next thought was that if Mike just reliably played an instrument of some sort throughout his career, he would have gotten much more of a free pass. 
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« Reply #104 on: December 01, 2016, 11:10:38 AM »

Yeah I thought about that too, why does Mike catch a ton of heat while Chuck Berry doesn't?  My next thought was that if Mike just reliably played an instrument of some sort throughout his career, he would have gotten much more of a free pass. 

There's a lot of things that Mike gets heat for that other artists get a free pass on. 
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« Reply #105 on: December 01, 2016, 11:14:13 AM »

It really does become a parody to try chasing the past, it can feel like a guy in his mid-40's going back to his old high school carrying a football and telling the kids "I was the quarterback for the Cougars when we won the state title...", and the kids could care less.
 

Mike basically became Al "4 touchdowns in 1 game" Bundy.

That is exactly what and who I had in mind - "Ladies and gentlemen, Red Grange is in the stands..."  Smiley
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« Reply #106 on: December 01, 2016, 11:28:20 AM »

It really does become a parody to try chasing the past, it can feel like a guy in his mid-40's going back to his old high school carrying a football and telling the kids "I was the quarterback for the Cougars when we won the state title...", and the kids could care less.
 

Mike basically became Al "4 touchdowns in 1 game" Bundy.

That is exactly what and who I had in mind - "Ladies and gentlemen, Red Grange is in the stands..."  Smiley

Mike Bundy expressing his thoughts on sad songs, like Summer's Gone...

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« Reply #107 on: December 01, 2016, 11:29:32 AM »

The difference with Chuck Berry and Bill Haley? Bill Haley was playing western swing, his style fell ass-backwards into becoming what was then a nascent genre called rock and roll. Chuck Berry was playing jump blues mixed with R&B mixed with T-Bone Walker's guitar style, and his style also fell ass-backwards into what became rock and roll.

Name one original Chuck Berry song written after 1970 of any consequence, or one that he got requests to play at his live show. Bill Haley simply exiled himself and disappeared from public view more or less until his death. Who is giving them a pass and where even is a pass required to be given? Both Chuck and Haley were integral to developing and popularizing rock and roll in the 50's, the bulk of what they did contribute after the 50's were a series of rock revivals and nostalgia trips via live shows, and in Chuck's case "My Ding A Ling" became his fluke "comeback" hit. And that record...I'll hold off on commenting.

There is a stark difference between the guys who were older than their audiences founding and developing rock and roll, and a guy in his 40's with the legacy of the Beach Boys under his belt putting out a single in 1983 telling kids to put down their school books and party.

The issue might be a case of, again, who actually thought this would fly in 1983? It's just basic recognition of what was different in 1983 versus 1954 or 1964.

And Mike into the 90's was still writing more or less the same kind of lyrics with his Adrian Baker collabs and other projects. It could have been a retro/camp kind of thing or even a more earnest attempt if it weren't for the attempts to make the productions sound modern to sell in that time period. It just didn't work, yet Mike kept trying the "let's party after school", "let's party on the beach", "let's cruise again like we did last summer" kind of themes in the lyrics as if a new take on that was going to be on par with that original era or even accepted. It's something that is a valid question, what audience in the 80's and 90's was he trying to reach with the "let's party" and "cruisin'" songs he kept writing? Then after Kokomo became a hit, the focus also shifted to tropical island paradises along with dropping the school books and trying to duplicate that success, again to no avail.

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« Reply #108 on: December 01, 2016, 06:09:09 PM »

Yeah I thought about that too, why does Mike catch a ton of heat while Chuck Berry doesn't? 
Mike never peed on anybody
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« Reply #109 on: December 02, 2016, 04:16:04 AM »

Yeah I thought about that too, why does Mike catch a ton of heat while Chuck Berry doesn't? 
Mike never peed on anybody

That we know of... Grin He offered to suck Lorrie Morgan's toes to relax her, which was the creepiest thing I ever read. I am sure he has pissed on a few people. He certainly pissed OFF a lot of people.
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« Reply #110 on: December 02, 2016, 05:10:42 AM »

Yeah I thought about that too, why does Mike catch a ton of heat while Chuck Berry doesn't? 
Mike never peed on anybody

That we know of... Grin He offered to suck Lorrie Morgan's toes to relax her, which was the creepiest thing I ever read. I am sure he has pissed on a few people. He certainly pissed OFF a lot of people.

That was the one part of Mike's book where I would imagine the editor or collaborator would approach his and say, "Um...Mr. Love....are you sure you want this printed?" 
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« Reply #111 on: December 02, 2016, 09:04:44 AM »

Jesus Mike.... Grin
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« Reply #112 on: December 02, 2016, 09:28:04 AM »

Yawnsville story for sure.
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« Reply #113 on: December 02, 2016, 10:42:05 AM »

Yawnsville story for sure.

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« Reply #114 on: December 02, 2016, 10:53:56 AM »

Thanks for illustration.  Smiley I stand by it: that Lorrie Morgan story is boring.
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« Reply #115 on: December 10, 2016, 11:09:19 AM »

This is kind of a weird thread. In some ways it feels like tearing down Mike for being who he is. Don't get me wrong, I wish that the Beach Boys would have had lyrics that are more artistic, introspective, personal, and what have you, 50 years on. But how much blame can be put on Mike specifically?

There was some discussion particularly about California Girls. And I think c-man really hit one aspect on the head, in terms of the lyrics fitting the feel of the song. I don't know the writing situation, but assume that the first time Mike would have heard the song is with the completed backing track, as the song was referred to as "I'm a Power Mower and You're the Lawn" (paraphrased) during the recording sessions. GhostyTMRS says that Brian originally had a lyric of "I dig the girls" for the track, which if true is really key. Brian is multi-faceted, as we all are. Part of him is a jock, a guy's guy so to speak. I can easily see him loving the idea (though not necessarily the execution, as I'll touch on below) of the lyrics. This is particularly true in light of some other discussion in the thread, on the idea of the juxtaposition of high and low art, i.e. an immaculate backing track paired with juvenile/sexist tinged lyrics. Juxtaposition, playing opposites off each other, is a huge part of art, and I'm sure this wasn't lost on Brian, whether with intent or just based on instinct.

So picture yourself as Mike, sitting down with Brian. He has a song he's really excited to play; he puts the acetate on the turntable and out comes this beautiful baroque introduction, which transitions into an incredible, bouncy, upbeat track. What happens now? Is the melody already written? Are they coming up with it right then? The reason I ask is because I think the melody plays a part in the basis of the lyrics. This relates to another point discussed in the thread, which is that the subject matter of the song itself is not a problem, but rather the specific lyrics used. They are pretty clunky when you really look at them (but then again, how many lyrics aren't when you look at them in isolation?). Mr. Tiger, you described this idea well, and with some humor:

I don't think anyone's saying there should be introspective lyrics tied to "California Girls". The theme could have been the same, but far better refined and polished. There's no spark, no wit, nothing clever, just a leering slobbering kind of "Well, look at that chick over there, now let's look at this chick over here," approach that doesn't live up to the musical side of the equation. Maybe after a couple of drafts and some honing, Mike's concept might have worked, but it sounds tossed off when at the same time the musical backdrop is nothing but...

There is at least some truth in this for me, on the surface level. The vocabulary used is juvenile ("hip", "dig"). There isn't a poetic flow. The lyrics are utilitarian: they're simple, easy to remember, and get the point across. That is their strength AND their weakness. It's why millions of people love the song, and why a small subset of those millions take some level of umbrage with it (me included I guess I could say, based on the evidence). Why couldn't the song have had more mature lyrics AND been a hit as well, as compared elsewhere in the thread to the (incredible) Beatles track "Help!"?

I think part of the answer goes back to what I mentioned above in terms of the relationship between the melody and the lyrics. The melody of "California Girls" influences the lyrics in its bouncy feel and the way it scans. The feel of the melody builds on the jovial nature of the backing track- it jumps all over the place (it barely ever repeats a note 2 times in a row, particularly in the 1st verse), and has a lot of syncopation (i.e. singing notes on the rhythms between beats, rather than on beats), which gives it that happy feel. The other notable aspect is the way the lyric scans, basically meaning its rhythm and the way it flows. The rhythm is a bit unique since it has somewhat of a staccato feel (i.e. the notes are short, and thus the words don't flow together, like there's a slight choppiness: "Well East...coast...girls..."). This staccato feel of the melody, in combination with it having a swing/triplet rhythm, gives it a jazzy tinge. Musically this rhythm feels great...

...but (and now I'm finally getting to why I questioned how the melody was created), the rhythm of the melody guides, but also limits, what the lyrics are capable of. Going back to the comparison to "Help!", think about the lyrics and the rhythm/flow of the melody in that song. They're rapid-fire, Lennon is spitting them out. He's chaotic and he needs to get this off his chest. The rhythm of the melody allows the lyric to do this with its machine-gun pace. Now think about the notes of the melody. They're at the opposite end of the spectrum from "California Girls"; aside from the intro/tag, which jumps around a bit, the rest of the song features very little melodic movement. The 1st verse has a whopping 10 syllables all on the same pitch: "When I was young-er so much young-er than". It's almost more of a rap than a melody in this way. As with "California Girls", the melodic rhythm of "Help!" not only guides the lyrics, but outright influences them. The rhythm of "Help!" is written in phrases, and means that the lyrics necessarily must form more complete thoughts.

When we compare the rhythm of "Help!"'s melody to that of  "California Girls", we can see that the slower, choppy rhythm of "CG" means that the lyrics can't use the more stream-of-consciousness type of approach used in "H". The lyrics necessarily have to be more simplified in order to mesh with the melody. So again, who wrote the melody? If Brian did, or they worked on it together, then Mike wouldn't have been in control of this important aspect of the melodic/lyrical connection. And if Mike did write the melody, then he was still bound to the already completed backing track in all of its buoyant glory. And in this case he would have been writing a melody to someone else's chords and feel, which is a different mental process than writing a melody to your own track.

So yeah, I do wish that Brian had worked with people other than Mike on more of his songs. I wish that he had been able to produce music on his own terms throughout his whole life. But given how things were, I think Mike may have been viewed overly harshly at times in this thread.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Edited to add, I only wrote the above after reading the first 3 pages of the thread. Meaning that I did not read your analysis, guitarfool, of "California Girls" at the top of page 4, and the miniature reappraisal of the song that followed. Which is a bit serendipitous, as you touch on some of the exact things that I did, and probably a little more coherently. Great post.
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« Reply #116 on: December 10, 2016, 10:16:27 PM »

Edited to add, I only wrote the above after reading the first 3 pages of the thread. Meaning that I did not read your analysis, guitarfool, of "California Girls" at the top of page 4, and the miniature reappraisal of the song that followed. Which is a bit serendipitous, as you touch on some of the exact things that I did, and probably a little more coherently. Great post.
Tbh, I didn't like Beatles tangent that went for a bit in this thread. We cannot expect from Mike to write lyrics like John. 2 completely different personalities.
& no worries  Smiley , you added to guitarfool's point & it was coherent alright. As music girl, I especially enjoyed reading the analysis of melody as related to the lyrics & do they fit rhythmically. & the rhetorical questions was good idea. Thanks for sharing.
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« Reply #117 on: April 14, 2017, 10:02:33 AM »

Ultimately I think California Girls is a brilliant record, a standout both for Brian as producer/writer and standing among the best of the 60's rock in general. The lyrics are terrific, I think. I'll give a 5-minute mini review/analysis short of a dissertation.

I'm a music guy first and foremost. If the sound and the groove doesn't click with me, I move on. The words of a song to me are icing on the cake. If the cake is stale and lopsided, it could have the most beautiful icing and decorations and I wouldn't care. Likewise, the cake itself has to be great no matter how good the decorations are. I like many, many records based solely on the music and groove, I couldn't recite the lyrics if I had to in some cases but I know the music on that record inside and out.

Having said that, the lyrics on California Girls are terrific - They tell a story with a full narrative, a beginning and end, a case made and a point stated. The narrator states his case and each couplet leading to the payoff line in the chorus/hook lists his reasons and logic. It's a celebration of the girls from his home state, without taking shots at any other region...in fact, he celebrates the girls of each region in a positive way before coming back to the hook: But the California Girls are still the best in the world. Does he say why they are the best, is it beauty or demeanor or any number of factors? No - and the intelligence of that is he knows yet lets the people listening fill in the reasons why. Yet at the end of the song, the listeners have heard a strong case made and no one was knocked down or insulted in doing so. Rather, it's a celebratory narrative, it's a happy narrative.

Some of the individual lines flow perfectly with the phrasing and delivery generated by the rhythm of the melody. Lines like "I've been all around this great big world, and I've seen all kinds of girls...", the rhythm of that rolls off the tongue and sits perfectly with the notes and groove. That is top-notch songwriting and delivery.

Onto the music.

This is Brian's early attempt at doing what he would crystallize with Good Vibrations, a "pocket symphony" on a 3 minute 45rpm record. The intro is an overture, a clarion call to the listener - A symphonic technique dating back several hundred years and brought into popular music with Louis Armstrong defining swing on his overture from "West End Blues". It's a musical slam-dunk of a statement that is majestic enough to grab your attention, yet until the last ritardando before the organ groove, it has little or nothing musically on paper to do with the material soon to follow. Yet, it gives a hint at what is to come. Teases of some musical themes, hints of some swirling melodic material to follow, a brief curtain being pulled back moment where the anticipation builds. In truth, the intro/overture nearly threatens to outshine the body of the song itself, but it somehow does not. It sets up an infectious shuffle pattern played by the organ.

And that shuffle...Did Brian on California Girls reinvent the shuffle and all that was possible in that oft-used rhythm pattern? Brian isn't doing blues, he's not doing R&B...yet the characteristic rhythm of those genres is front and center. It's not a slow-blues shuffle, it's not a fast shuffle.

It sits right in between, tempo-wise. It's...dare I say..."laid back". It's a California shuffle. Not a trace of anything from the blues. Not a jazz swing or jump R&B. It feels and sounds like you're in California on the beach. Laid back. This overall feel in the music is perhaps more true to the environment which created it than the examples all kinds of rock critics and historians use, that SoCal country rock, singer songwriter feel in the post-acid early 70's that was all over pop culture. Brian's laid back, steady rolling rhythm feels like California. He played a medium/slow, non-blues shuffle and wore the fact that there are no elements of blues on his sleeve. He created an aura, brought home by the hook in the lyrics repeating "California". Genius.

The seeds of Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, as well as later elements from Smile, are in this production and songwriting. Period. From his Spector-ism of shifting chords and keys in the hook, under the melody as he heard on Be My Baby, to the drop-outs, dramatic pauses, and solo organ break before the climax, it's all here in nascent form, while still being masterfully done.

And that climax - Just when you think you know what you'll be hearing, ol' Brian twists the ending chord progression by tweaking *one chord* to make it different. The 1967 Hawaii/Wally Heider outtro/tag is even more emotional and surprising, but the 1965 original still packs that radio-ready punch as it fades out with that new chord showing up to keep the water boiling until the DJ talks up the next spin.

A brilliant record.

And I always come back to this realization, like a bucket of ice water being thrown in your face on a cold January morning as you're walking out the front door:

The man who created the music, texture, harmony, and groove of this majestic recording was in his early 20's and only had one functioning ear to hear the results.

Natural-born talent beyond compare.



Hey Cincinnati Kid, if you're going to copy, quote and repost my posts directly like the ones above and use them to start discussions and make points on other forums , how about crediting and citing  them properly and not the way you did this one? "Someone" did not post that "elsewhere", I posted it here. Simple as that.

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« Reply #118 on: April 14, 2017, 04:14:18 PM »

The bottom line?  Brian and Mike were speaking to two different 'audiences'.  [Paul and John didn't...as Beatles]  Brian was looking for a more sophisticated ... or at least more mature ... target.  Mike was stuck at a grade 11 high school assembly.  The times when they were actually in sync...?  After 1965?  Not all that often.  Brian saw a real future ahead of him and he kept on movin'.  Mike saw the past and just sat down.

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« Reply #119 on: April 14, 2017, 05:02:39 PM »

Ultimately I think California Girls is a brilliant record, a standout both for Brian as producer/writer and standing among the best of the 60's rock in general. The lyrics are terrific, I think. I'll give a 5-minute mini review/analysis short of a dissertation.

I'm a music guy first and foremost. If the sound and the groove doesn't click with me, I move on. The words of a song to me are icing on the cake. If the cake is stale and lopsided, it could have the most beautiful icing and decorations and I wouldn't care. Likewise, the cake itself has to be great no matter how good the decorations are. I like many, many records based solely on the music and groove, I couldn't recite the lyrics if I had to in some cases but I know the music on that record inside and out.

Having said that, the lyrics on California Girls are terrific - They tell a story with a full narrative, a beginning and end, a case made and a point stated. The narrator states his case and each couplet leading to the payoff line in the chorus/hook lists his reasons and logic. It's a celebration of the girls from his home state, without taking shots at any other region...in fact, he celebrates the girls of each region in a positive way before coming back to the hook: But the California Girls are still the best in the world. Does he say why they are the best, is it beauty or demeanor or any number of factors? No - and the intelligence of that is he knows yet lets the people listening fill in the reasons why. Yet at the end of the song, the listeners have heard a strong case made and no one was knocked down or insulted in doing so. Rather, it's a celebratory narrative, it's a happy narrative.

Some of the individual lines flow perfectly with the phrasing and delivery generated by the rhythm of the melody. Lines like "I've been all around this great big world, and I've seen all kinds of girls...", the rhythm of that rolls off the tongue and sits perfectly with the notes and groove. That is top-notch songwriting and delivery.

Onto the music.

This is Brian's early attempt at doing what he would crystallize with Good Vibrations, a "pocket symphony" on a 3 minute 45rpm record. The intro is an overture, a clarion call to the listener - A symphonic technique dating back several hundred years and brought into popular music with Louis Armstrong defining swing on his overture from "West End Blues". It's a musical slam-dunk of a statement that is majestic enough to grab your attention, yet until the last ritardando before the organ groove, it has little or nothing musically on paper to do with the material soon to follow. Yet, it gives a hint at what is to come. Teases of some musical themes, hints of some swirling melodic material to follow, a brief curtain being pulled back moment where the anticipation builds. In truth, the intro/overture nearly threatens to outshine the body of the song itself, but it somehow does not. It sets up an infectious shuffle pattern played by the organ.

And that shuffle...Did Brian on California Girls reinvent the shuffle and all that was possible in that oft-used rhythm pattern? Brian isn't doing blues, he's not doing R&B...yet the characteristic rhythm of those genres is front and center. It's not a slow-blues shuffle, it's not a fast shuffle.

It sits right in between, tempo-wise. It's...dare I say..."laid back". It's a California shuffle. Not a trace of anything from the blues. Not a jazz swing or jump R&B. It feels and sounds like you're in California on the beach. Laid back. This overall feel in the music is perhaps more true to the environment which created it than the examples all kinds of rock critics and historians use, that SoCal country rock, singer songwriter feel in the post-acid early 70's that was all over pop culture. Brian's laid back, steady rolling rhythm feels like California. He played a medium/slow, non-blues shuffle and wore the fact that there are no elements of blues on his sleeve. He created an aura, brought home by the hook in the lyrics repeating "California". Genius.

The seeds of Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations, as well as later elements from Smile, are in this production and songwriting. Period. From his Spector-ism of shifting chords and keys in the hook, under the melody as he heard on Be My Baby, to the drop-outs, dramatic pauses, and solo organ break before the climax, it's all here in nascent form, while still being masterfully done.

And that climax - Just when you think you know what you'll be hearing, ol' Brian twists the ending chord progression by tweaking *one chord* to make it different. The 1967 Hawaii/Wally Heider outtro/tag is even more emotional and surprising, but the 1965 original still packs that radio-ready punch as it fades out with that new chord showing up to keep the water boiling until the DJ talks up the next spin.

A brilliant record.

And I always come back to this realization, like a bucket of ice water being thrown in your face on a cold January morning as you're walking out the front door:

The man who created the music, texture, harmony, and groove of this majestic recording was in his early 20's and only had one functioning ear to hear the results.

Natural-born talent beyond compare.



Hey Cincinnati Kid, if you're going to copy, quote and repost my posts directly like the ones above and use them to start discussions and make points on other forums , how about crediting and citing  them properly and not the way you did this one? "Someone" did not post that "elsewhere", I posted it here. Simple as that.

I'm not aiming this at Cincinnati Kid, but I do love that I've seen so many ridiculous PS forum advertisements here from the same people over and over again, yet your post can't even be cited properly on that board. Perhaps because Cinc Kid knew some of the cesspool clientele there would berate him for quoting "Guitarfool2002".
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« Reply #120 on: April 14, 2017, 08:11:14 PM »



"...cesspool clientele". Classic, Rab!!  LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
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« Reply #121 on: April 15, 2017, 09:20:44 PM »

I'm glad this got bumped so I could post in it. I have confused feelings about the lyrics to California Girls. I can say with certainty the first verse is much better than the second verse. But even then, I can't say that it's great.

Well, East Coast girls are hip - I really dig those styles they wear
and the Southern girls with the way they talk - they knock me out when I'm down there
The Midwest farmer's daughter really makes you feel alright
And the Northern girls with they way they kiss - they keep their boyfriends warm at night

The basic concept here is solid enough: let's cover a stereotype of an American region. The (North) East Coast is full of sophisticated, style-conscious people; Southerners have cute accents. But then Northerners (New Englanders? The Minnesota/Wisconsin region?) ... live in a cold place? And are therefore good at kissing to keep that cold away? Eh. Not as easily accessible as the prior two stereotypes. Then the Midwest is full of polite people. But "really makes you feel alright" is such a boring way to express that. The "really" is a lyrical filler that doesn't really express anything but uses up two syllables. Syllables are precious in a song - because you get so few of them and they're tied to a pre-existing melody and stress pattern, you must be very economical and conscious in order to craft a good lyric and express something compellingly. Words like "just" and "really" and "even" are crutches. Combined with a bland statement like "feel alright," the entire phrase feels like filler.

I love the contrast of the chorus with the first verse. Mike's just done telling us that American girls are all great (with one notable region missing) and then says to forget all that, because they all should be California girls! Love the juxtaposition of it. And it really reinforces that there must be something special about California girls, because it's not like he's saying "East Coast girls are snobs; Southern girls have stupid accents; Midwesterners are doormats; Northerners freeze to death" - he's saying they're even better than these great girls he's discussed. There's something very dreamy about the way "I wish they all could be California girls" is repeated over those chord changes. It really heightens the fantasy aspect of it. But the second verse... ech.

The West Coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tan
I dig a French bikini on Hawaiian Island dolls by a palm tree in the sand
I been all around this great big world and I seen all kind of girls
Yeah, but I couldn't wait to get back in the states - back to the cutest girls in the world

First of all, "the West Coast has the sunshine"? I promise you, the East Coast is not just New York and New England. The Southern states are well known for their favorable climes. And uh, how about Florida? Did you forget about Miami? Even more sunshine than California  Cool But let's forgive that for a moment. I feel like this is what people refer to when they talk about this song seeming sleazy. It sounds like Mike's just sort of ogling girls in bikinis from a distance while they're tanning on the beach. And there's nothing wrong with being attracted to women, but the way it's written just sounds so leery.

This isn't Mike's worst effort nor his best effort. I mean, you have stuff like "if you say you watched the movie, you're a couple of liars/and remember, only you can prevent forest fires" from "Drive-In" that's honestly cringeworthy. And then there's stuff like "Fun Fun Fun" which, while not Shakespeare by any means, is actually fun. "California Girls" is alright, I'd say. It's only the second verse that makes me wrinkle my nose a bit when I listen to it, but you've got those lovely background vocals to focus on anyway. The music is definitely more advanced than prior Brian efforts, but which are the really "advanced" parts? There's the opening portion, which is wordless, and the chorus, which is well served by only a single lyric. The single lyric is iconic ("I wish they all could be California girls" is a famous line) and also allows you to focus on all the lovely harmonies going on. Brian would reuse this technique of a single lyric repeated over different, counterpointing melodies later on ("God only knows what I'd be without you," "I wanna go home/hoist up the John B sail", "Have you seen the grand Coulee working on the railroad?") to great effect, so no points docked there. The verses aren't too crazy, and accordingly enough the lyrics aren't too crazy either. There are likely better example lyrics for the case of "Brian dumped Mike" - by the way, a proposition I'm not sure I agree with. But then again, I'm a baby fan, so who knows?
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« Reply #122 on: April 16, 2017, 04:48:29 AM »

That seemed tongue-in-cheek, but if it is not, I think you are reading way  too much into it.

California Girls did not cover every region, just like the Beach Boys missed some surfing spots in Surfin' USA. You cannot possibly fit everything in one song. California Girls is a song is about the guys appreciating different aspects of women from around the United States. Sure, Florida has sunshine, but so does most of the rest of the world. In fact, if you want to get nitpicky, they covered the entire globe with that "all around this great big world" line, so Florida can be represented there. Smiley

I am not trying to be condescending, so please do not read it that way. I am not sure if you were around for drive-ins but in the even that you were not (or for anyone else who was not) the "remember only you can prevent forest fires" line is from a PSA that we would see all the time at the drive ins.



As it follows the line "if you say you watched the movie, you're a couple of liars", I think the insinuation is that you were doing something WAY more fun than watching the movie. Back then the parents cared enough to ask what the movie was about and if you could not tell them anything about the movie, they may assume that you did not use the car to go to the drive-in, and you would not get to borrow the car again. Kids would borrow their parents cars and use them as free motel rooms, go to the drive-in and make out. I think that "remember only you can prevent forest fires" is a smart-ass way to "prove" you were at the drive-in since that PSA was at all the drive-ins - so it was a "can't miss" response to your parents question. It is part of Mike's swaggery, smart-Alec delivery that he had in the early songs.

I agree it is a lame line as it does not date well, but it does make sense. The Beach Boys often had lyrics that I did not understand. Right from the very start (I do not know surfing terms) in Surfin' when Mike sings, my surfin' knots are rising" I had no idea what he was talking about. There was no internet back then. Now there is so much information out there, I know what Huarache sandals and Lake Pipes are. LOL.

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« Reply #123 on: April 16, 2017, 04:18:03 PM »

@Rick5150 No worries! I was being tongue-in-cheek with the Florida thing; we all know California is famous for sun and beaches and all that stuff. Just had to put in a token protest from the sunshine state Wink

As for the "forest fire" line, I didn't realize it was actually played at drive-ins. That does makes the line a little less random. Nevertheless, I still dislike it because it's supposed to be funny but doesn't really come across as amusing to me. I suppose it's not the worst, but it's still my to-go example of a bad Mike lyric.
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« Reply #124 on: April 17, 2017, 09:01:10 AM »

If we're looking for Mike's single worst lyric ever, it's "Christmas comes this time each year." He so easily could have written something like "How I love this time of year" to fit that template.

The California girls lyrics are hardly profound, but to me they work for the vibe of the song, and hey, ONE of the boys was still a teenager at the time.  Smiley

The worst thing about the California Girls lyrics is that they eventually spawned this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id4a_eswyvk
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