Emerging from a serious Beach-Boys binge recently, during which I listened to albums, read books and watched biographical films, I was amazed at the revivifying impact my short sojourn with summer, surfing, California, road tripping, fun, lucid tones and Brian Wilson’s favorite or “pet” sounds had on my countenance. The world was good again.
The Beach Boys hold a special place in my heart as theirs was the first vinyl album I was allowed to drop and spin on my parents’ brand new Zenith all-wood, stereo console when I was three-years-old. I prepared for these sound and motion events by strategically placing three jersey-cotton. Buster-Brown skirts—in tiered formation— down my little-girl, string-bean body. Stepping onto the living-room rug, I would spin, dance and jam under the intense sound of the beating, California sun, singing along with Brian, his brothers, one cousin and a good friend—mashing motions with their incredible harmonies.
“You’re so good to me. / How come you are? …La,la, la, /La, la, la… And, I looove it, looove it.”
Then, with all of that rocking, spinning and singing, at some point, I would land in a sweaty heap next to one set of wood-encased console speakers with my lungs still working to wail about the pain gained and love lost over Wendy. We had come to the end of the second side of that album. (And, yes, vinyl is still better than digital; and, yes, wood is still better than anything for conveying a smooth, mellow wave of sound.) These whirling events were shear sound-movement bliss—my ecstatic quest was always fulfilled.
Until the British invasion, The Beach Boys remained unsurpassed on United States pop charts and in American hearts. And, as it is with all people who create, there came a tipping point in the creative process for Brian Wilson, when he really wanted to express—in both lyric and score—a more nuanced vision for Beach-Boys sound. The recording-studio executives hiccuped and coughed about and over titles like “God Only Knows”. But, how else can it be expressed— what it is like to be in awe, in gratitude, in wonder and truly in Love?
I think about this sometimes, when I break up my sedentary, quiet writing spells with a little in-home, Beach-Boys mania. What would I write about in an ecstatic state? I fear it would come out in seed phonemes—like scat singing, or it would appear to be some Dadaist poem. This spiritual ecstasy is that T H I N G from which “words turn away”—as it is discribed in The Upanishads.
Thank you, Brian, Carl, Dennis, Mike and Al—and everyone who has ever sung or played to make the Beach-Boys music. Your work remains—always—in our hearts.