Monday, May 16, 2011

20 Things You May Not Have Known About 'Pet Sounds'

45 years ago today, The Beach Boys unveiled a record that would stimulate Rock & Roll’s evolution like few others. You’ve listened to Pet Sounds, you love Pet Sounds, now it’s time to get hip to 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Pet Sounds!


1. While Mike Love was on tour with The Beach Boys in Japan, Brian Wilson was forced to look elsewhere for a lyricist to help him compose the tracks that would comprise Pet Sounds. He decided on Tony Asher, who made ends meet as a jingle writer. Asher only took a brief leave of absence to work with Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds. As soon as his involvement in the project was finished, he returned to the advertising world. Asher later collaborated with John Bahler on a number of songs for TV’s Partridge Family.

2. To achieve a “live” sound, Brian took the unorthodox approach of recording many of his vocal parts at the same time the engineer mixed the album.

3. In the mid-‘90s, Mike Love sued Brian for co-writing credit on a number of Beach Boys songs, including “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. When the Pet Sounds Mailing List asked what Love’s involvement in writing the song was, Tony Asher replied, “None, whatsoever.” Love claims he helped co-write the bridge.

4. The bridge of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was the source of further controversy when The Beach Boys took the song on the road. While working out backing-vocal arrangements for live performances without Brian, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine clashed on the “words.” Wilson believed them to be “Run-run-wee-ooh,” while Jardine favored “Run-run-ree-ooh!”

5. Despite Love’s legal issue with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, and his general ambivalence about the entire Pet Sounds project, he admitted it was his daughter’s favorite song in 2006.

6. “You Still Believe in Me” began life as a composition with a rare Brian Wilson lyric called “In My Childhood,” which is why bike horns and bells can be heard honking and ringing at the end of the track.

7. Although Phil Spector’s house band, The Wrecking Crew, recorded the
majority of instrumental tracks on Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys, themselves, played on one track. Brian’s Hammond organ, Carl Wilson’s guitar, Dennis’s drums, and Al Jardine’s percussion can be heard on “That’s Not Me”.

8. At the artist’s request, Capitol released “Caroline, No” as a Brian Wilson solo single in March of 1966 (the same day The Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B.” saw release), but Pet Sounds contains one other track without any contribution from another Beach Boy: “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”.

9. Brian was infatuated with a comedy album titled How to Speak Hip that Tony Asher played for him while making Pet Sounds. Wilson was particularly taken with a line instructing, “if everyone were ‘laid back and cool, then we’d have world peace’” and considered naming the Side A instrumental “Let’s Go Away for Awhile, and Then We’ll Have World Peace”!

10. There have long been rumors that Capitol forced Brian to include the folk standard “Sloop John B.” on Pet Sounds for commercial purposes. However, writer Brad Elliott suggests the track was always part of the Pet Sounds concept as it was included in the first track line-up Brian presented to the record label. That initial line up also included two tracks that didn’t make the final L.P. (“Hang On to Your Ego” to be rewritten as “I Know There’s an Answer” and “Good Vibrations”) and one (“The Old Man and the Baby”) that would later be retitled (“Let’s Go Away for Awhile”). Missing from the running order were “I’m Waiting for the Day”, “Pet Sounds”, and “God Only Knows”.


11. Carl Wilson contributed what may be the single greatest vocal ever captured on a pop song to “God Only Knows”. Amazingly, this was only the third officially released Beach Boys song on which Carl was allowed to sing lead, the others being “Pom Pom Playgirl” (Brian is erroneously credited as the singer in the liner notes of Shut Down Vol. 2) and “Girl Don’t Tell Me”. After “God Only Knows” Carl’s voice would feature far more prominently on Beach Boys records.

12. The title track was originally called “Run, James, Run” under the hopes it might be considered for the theme song of the next James Bond movie!

13. Wary of The Beach Boys’ departure from the surf and hot rod tunes that made them famous, Capitol Records had little faith in Pet Sounds and practically sabotaged the record’s commercial success by releasing and heavily promoting the play-it-safe Best of The Beach Boys just two months after Pet Sounds hit record stores.

14. Leaving behind their surfin’ persona following the release of Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys considered shortening their name to the more mystical Beach.

15. Shortly before the album was released, new Beach Boy Bruce Johnston hosted a Pet Sounds listening party for Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Beach Boys-fanatic Keith Moon. Moon joined in as the two Beatles gushed over the record, but The Who’s drummer secretly thought it was “one big drag.” Despite Moon’s preference for surf-era Beach Boys, Pet Sounds proved a tremendous influence on Pete Townshend when crafting the romantic, adolescent, lushly produced songs on The Who Sell Out.

16. Paul McCartney has long described Pet Sounds as “the album of all time” and “God Only Knows” as “the greatest song ever written.” That particular song had such an immediate impact on him that he was moved to write the similarly ethereal ballad “Here, There, and Everywhere” in time for inclusion on The Beatles’ soon-to-be-released Revolver.

17. Although Bruce Johnston’s listening party is often considered the first time McCartney heard his new favorite album, producer Lou Adler (Sam Cooke, The Mamas and the Papas, The Grass Roots, etc.) says he first played an acetate of the record for Paul at the home of Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham.

18. Oldham played a major role in breaking Pet Sounds in the U.K., paying for advertisements in the music press in which he compared the record to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

19. Neil Young was also caught in the thrall of Pet Sounds, using “Let’s Go Away for Awhile as the final song in his 1972 experimental film Journey Through the Past and referencing “Caroline, No” in his 1976 classic “Long May You Run”.
Maybe The Beach Boys
Have got you now
With those waves
Singing "Caroline No"


20. Derek Taylor was hired to represent The Beach Boys around the time Pet Sounds was released, and The Beatles’ former publicist is largely responsible for remolding Brian as a “genius” in the press.
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