The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds
Before there were “Pet Sounds” there were “Surfing,” “The Lonely Seas,” “In My Room,” and “409.” You can say that these songs are describing a typical teenage boy’s day in Southern California. Brian Wilson’s recording of his 348 Chevy engine and the sounds of the ocean waves used in the song “The Lonely Seas” and “409″ was a way to engage his audience to feel closer to the life in California. By Wilson recording these sounds, The Beach Boys appearance was of the California Sound. This sound was built upon the California life of surfing, cars and girls. With the help of the California Sound The Beach Boys sound became monumental within their music.
Wilson is the founder, songwriter, producer, and composer of The Beach Boys. He would write the melodies of the songs for the band and hand out sheet music to the musicians before they recorded the song in the studio. When they started to record the vocals, Wilson would direct the other four group members in teaching them the different parts of the song. Wilson was the composer of the group in helping with the music and recording structure.
With The Beach Boys previous success of singing about surfing, car and romance, Wilson wanted to write songs that were about life and things that were intimate from his soul.
Tony Asher stated, “Brian wanted to do something unlike The Beach Boys has ever done before.”
The Beatles inspired this idea when Wilson heard the Rubber Soul album. He wanted feel good music that make you look at yourself, see how you feel, and see what you can do to improve yourself. So, he started to work on an album that would soon become The Beach Boys’ best album in the eyes of their fans and peers; an album we know as Pet Sounds.
The album Pet Sounds was unique in its own way by having different things that set them apart from other recordings in the mid 1960s. This album is one of pop’s first true song-cycle where all the songs were linked to a theme journeying from adolescence to adulthood. The unusual instrumentation of Pet Sounds, ranged from a variety of things such as: a Theremin, bicycle bells and an overturned water bottle. What also made this album different from others was their two instrumentals “Lets Go Away For Awhile” and “Pet Sounds.” Wilson manages to bring in 23 musicians for the single “God Only Knows” where at the time only Phil Spector was doing. Above all that was said, The Beach Boys also created magnificent harmonies ever made for Pet Sounds.
While I was listening to Pet Sounds I interpreted it as a boy having a crush for this girl that he is desperately and secretly in love with. As an industry professional I am thinking about the production and arrangement of each individual song. This has helped me to think outside the box in writing songs and how The Beach Boys recorded in the studio. The way Wilson over-dubbed and stacked his vocals is a unique thing to do in the studio. I will take in how Wilson produced The Beach Boys and find a way to incorporate those things into my life-journey in music.