“You’ll hear it while you’re walking by a neighbor’s home. You’ll hear it faintly in the distance when you’re on the phone. You’re sitting in a dentist’s chair and they’ve got music for you there, to add some music to your day.” The thing about sitting in the dentist’s chair is that it’s a deeply unpleasant experience anyway and made worse when you hear “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” by Culture Club. On the other hand, I agree with the sentiment insofar as music serves so many purposes and one of them is as a calming influence. I’m not sure about walking by my neighbour’s home. Our next door neighbour is an elderly lady living by herself and we never hear a peep from her. She probably thinks we are playing “Right Next Door To Hell” by Guns’n’Roses all the time.
The Beach Boys story is remarkable. There are so many incarnations of The Beach Boys and the early ones were fantastic whilst quite different. Firstly there was the surf group (e.g. “Surfin’ U.S.A.”). Then the car/high school group (e.g. “Little Deuce Coup” or “Be True To Your School”). Brian Wilson came into his own with “Pet Sounds” and got sidetracked after “Good Vibrations”. My favourite period is the one that followed, from 1968 – 1973 with “Wild Honey” (1967), “Friends” (1968), “20/20” (1969), “Sunflower” (1970), “Surf’s Up” (1971), “Carl And The Passions – So Tough” (1972) and “Holland” (1973). Ten subsequent records were released after 1973 but none of them lived up to the exacting high standards of all those that had preceded them. These seven records proved that The Beach Boys were not dependent on the genius of Brian Wilson to produce beautiful music. I’ve already written about “Friends” and it is exemplary but “Sunflower” comes very close.
“The Sunday morning gospel goes good with the soul. There’s blues, folk, and country, and rock like a rolling stone. The world could come together as one if everybody under the sun would add some music to your day” I can’t say I have very fond memories of music in Church apart from listening to a good friend of mine heartily singing out of tune at the Year 7 carol service in St. John’s Church in Burgess Hill. He was so out of tune that all the children around him stopped singing and just stared at him with their jaws dropped in astonishment. However, I agree with the sentiments that the world could come together as one if everyone under the sun could add some music to their day. Hang on, it depends what music I suppose. I’m not sure about “Killer Queen”, “Killing Me Softly With His Song” or “Psycho Killer”.
There are some brilliant songs on this record. Dennis Wilson was the only Beach Boy who surfed and he tragically drowned in 1983, aged only 39. In 1968, Charles Manson, who had befriended Dennis, moved into his house. Although he had a reputation as a wild rock star, his compositions on “Friends” and “Carl And The Passions – So Tough” were incredibly quiet, gentle and loving. On this record, he wrote and sang on three songs. Two of these are very dynamic R&B songs with impassioned vocals and “Forever” is much more gentle, including the charming opening line “If every word I said could make you laugh, I’d talk forever.”
Carl Wilson was the youngest of the three brothers and died in 1998, aged 51. He only started writing songs in 1971 but his voice was that of an angel. He sings lead vocals on three songs.
Mike Love was the cousin of the Wilson brothers. He is normally portrayed as being the straight man wanting to stop the band from experimenting too much. He told Brian Wilson to change the lyrics to “Hang On To Your Ego” from Pet Sounds and so the song became “I Know There’s An Answer”. He co-wrote and takes lead vocals on three songs.
Bruce Johnston joined The Beach Boys when Brian Wilson stopped touring in 1965. He wrote and sings two songs, “Deidre” and “Tears In The Morning.” They are a little too saccharine for my taste, not at all unpleasant, but lacking the diversity and originality of the other songs.
Al Jardine was a schoolfriend of the other founder members of The Beach Boys. He co-wrote three songs and sings lead vocals on one.
Brian Wilson is normally regarded as the leader of The Beach Boys but over these seven records, his influence was not as dominant. Nevertheless, his input on this record was significant, writing or co-writing seven songs. He shares lead vocals on “Cool Cool Water” with Mike Love.
“Cool Cool Water” is an amazing song. It consists of several segments and has appeared on the SMiLE re issues. Brian wrote “I’m proud of “Cool, Cool Water” because that was a divinely inspired song. I had just moved into a new house on Bellagio Road in Bel Air, in March of 1967, and the first day I moved in, there was a piano there, and I went to the piano and wrote “Cool, Cool Water”. I sat and wrote the gist of it, the basic song.” I realise that anyone that has never heard “In an ocean or in a glass, cool water is such a gas” wouldn’t be inspired to listen to it by seeing these lyrics but it’s an unashamed delight.
“When day is over, I close my tired eyes. Music is in my soul.” ‘Psychology Today’ quotes a review, published in 2016 that states that music therapy is effective in improving the mental health of people who are incarcerated. Hopefully, I’ll never know but I can believe it. Data show that music therapy can help alleviate depression in older adults. A study published in 2013 found that children admitted to the emergency department who listened to music during routine procedures showed less distress and reported lower pain scores than those who didn’t listen to music. A slightly more pretentious website (“The Scavanger”) states that “Music resonates within the human spirit. At the heart of humanity is a song of the soul. The spiritual significance of music can transcend communities, cultures, and creeds. “
“At a movie you can feel it touching your heart and on every day of the summertime you’ll hear children chasing ice cream carts. They’ll play it on your wedding day. There must be about a million ways to add some music to your day.” Kathryn Kalinak stated that “Music in film achieves a number of things: it establishes setting; it creates atmosphere; it calls attention to elements; it reinforces or foreshadows narrative developments; it gives meaning to a character’s actions or translates their thoughts; and it creates emotion.” The music that plays at the end of “Ordinary People” (Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major) always reduces me to tears. As far as music to be played at weddings goes, the following music would be the best to play: “Please Release Me”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and, obviously, “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”
I called this blog “Add Some Music To Your Day” because it sums up how I feel. I can’t imagine a day without music. I need music to give a soundtrack to my life whether it’s a car journey, solving a puzzle, eating a meal or sitting quietly. Every activity really. Although, please note that whenever a batsman hits a six, I don’t want to hear “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis.
I started writing this blog on March 22nd. I have completed one every day apart from April 2nd when I wasn’t very well (although I wrote two on April 3rd to compensate). This is my 100th entry. To all of who have read anything that I have rambled on about, many thanks and I hope there has been something vaguely interesting. I have set myself two rules – no more than one entry per artist and one per day. From now on, I’m not going to stick to these rules rigidly but the discipline of spending 1-2 hours writing every day has been a blessing.
3 thoughts on “Sunflower by The Beach Boys”
Congratulations on reaching the century! I’ve really enjoyed reading your daily blogs: you’ve introduced me to some great (&, if not great, certainly interesting) albums & you’ve helped me to listen afresh to some I already know. As often happens, reading today’s post reminded me how patchy my knowledge is of some bands/artists I really like – in this case The Beach Boys. On the strength of your blog, I’ll be sure to give this album a proper listen. It’s understandable that, after 100 posts, you might want to ease off a bit, but hopefully you’ll keep up the good work, albeit at a slightly more relaxed pace.
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This has been a bit of a musical indulgence for me. Part reminder, part introduction to 100 albums worth a listen. A great, extended piece of work, Mick! Look forward to whatever you decide to publish next.
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