As warm weather arrives, radio stations break out the Summer oldies, which mostly means “The Beach Boys”.
Unfortunately, the endless replays of “Barbara Ann”, “Little Deuce Coupe” and “409” don’t really recapture what “The Beach Boys” music meant to those of us who were in the original audience.
I had the good fortune of seeing “The Beach Boys” perform before Brian Wilson retreated to his room. Back when Summer was about escape from the 24/7 supervision of school and parents, having the freedom to sample all the possibilities Life might hold and getting to know girls.
And that’s what “The Beach Boys” captured and communicated to us. Yeah, we liked hot cars and surf culture too. But those were the trappings, the shiny baubles, not the spirit of our Summers.
Later in their lives, “The Beach Boys” became known as “the American Beatles” for the ways they innovated in the recording studio with classic albums like “Pet Sounds”, albums so far ahead of their time, some waited almost another generation to be appreciated.
But they were innovating from the get-go, layering lyrics and musical phrasing that pulled us back to those quite sunset moments after a long day at the beach.
Those moments when the pretty girl in the bikini was finally at our side. Our bodies were baked and our thoughts were as close to Nirvana as you can get at 16. The moment when you realized there was a chance that kind of bliss could last the rest of your life.
Or at least the rest of the Summer.
It wasn’t the magical pen of Brian Wilson that best captured that moment. It was one of his replacements, Bruce Johnson, in a song titled “Disney Girls” written in 1971.
But Brian and his band-mate brothers, under pressure from the record company that year to complete the long-awaited “Surf’s Up” album, an album engineers were massaging to make the band sound like they did at the height of their 60’s fame, certainly realized the song summer-ized all that “The Beach Boys” were.
In fact, the song’s full title is “Disney Girls (1957)” the year “The Beach Boys” first recorded, the time they first tried to capture and reflect that special Summer moment.
For me, it is the ultimate Summer song. I hope it captures that feeling for you as well.
Enjoy Your Sunday.