Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Beach Boys – "Here Today" (1966)

You've got to keep in mind love is here
And it's gone 

When the rest of the Beach Boys went to Japan in 1966, Brian Wilson stayed in Los Angeles and wrote the songs that would eventually become the most remarkable pop music album ever recorded, Pet Sounds.

Beach Boy Mike Love was not impressed by his cousin's new music.  "Even the happy songs are sad," Love said.   

Perhaps the best illustration of Love's point is "Here Today," a song with sad lyrics that nonetheless sounds happy.

Brian Wilson and Mike Love
"Here Today" begins on an optimistic note:

It starts with just a little glance now
Right away you're thinkin' 'bout romance now
You know you ought to take it slower
But you just can't wait to get to know her
A brand new love affair is such a beautiful thing

The smitten young man that singer is addressing believes that his new love is perfection.  But the singer has news for him:

You know, I hate to be a downer
But I'm the guy she left before you found her
Love and Mercy is a new movie about Brian Wilson that offers a detailed look at the creation of Pet Sounds:

The movie was very good, but I would have liked it even better if the whole thing had been about the Pet Sounds sessions.  (You can click here to watch a documentary about Pet Sounds.)

Paul Dano as Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy
It's impossible to overstate how perfect Pet Sounds is.  The vocal harmonies were beautifully executed by Wilson and the other Beach Boys, and the all-star collection of highly skilled studio musicians known as the "Wrecking Crew" – drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Carol Kaye, organist Larry Knechtel, and guitarist Glen Campbell were among them – handle everything that Wilson throws at them flawlessly.

Bassist Carol Kaye during the Pet Sounds sessions
God only knows what inspired Wilson to use accordions, a theremin, French and English horns, sleigh bells, bicycle horns, Coke cans, and an empty five-gallon plastic water jug on various tracks on the album . . . but it worked.

Pet Sounds was inspired by Rubber Soul.  "Rubber Soul blew my mind," said Brian Wilson, who was determined to exceed what the Beatles had achieved on that record.

Pet Sounds in turn inspired Sgt. Pepper.  "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened," George Martin said.  "Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."

Sorry, Beatles fans, but there's no comparison.  Pet Sounds is musically unique and has an emotional coherence and depth that Sgt. Pepper can't begin to match.  

In 1968, the Beach Boys released Stack-O-Tracks, an album containing the instrumental tracks to fifteen of their songs, including "Here Today":

Now let's listen to just the vocal track – perfection:

Here's "Here Today" in its entirety – perfection squared:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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