Good Vibrations was selected as the number 6 song in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the RIAA named it the number 24 song OF THE CENTURY. Uploaded by wikia.com.
Between 1965 and 1967 a recording rivalry developed between Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys (Great American Things, May 16, 2009) in the U.S. and the Beatles in the U.K. The Boys had things their way before the Beatles wave swept over them. Even so, the two groups were frequently in the top 10 together – and then the Beatles released Rubber Soul.
Brian Wilson recognized the album’s groundbreaking production, which he tried to top with Pet Sounds. Lennon and McCartney then released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which inspired Wilson to create Smile. In the midst of this deluge of great music, studio recording changed forever. And “Good Vibrations” played a huge role.
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The song came into being through 17 recording sessions at four different studios. Wilson recorded elements of the song, then edited them together in a musical collage. Tony Asher wrote the original lyrics, but very little of his words made the final version (though he did come up with the words, “I’m picking up good vibrations”). Mike Love of the Beach Boys tried to turn the strange sound into a more accessible romance by adding “She’s giving me excitations.”
“Good Vibrations” is acclaimed as one of the top songs of the rock era. It made number six on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and made the top spot in Mojo’s Top 100 Records of All Time. The RIAA rated it number 24 in its list of Top Songs of the Century.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by Epiclectic.
From 1964 to roughly 1967 or so, America experienced what was called “The British Invasion.” Following the success of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, any four guys from Britain with guitars and long hair could have their music played on American radio. One band, which had already begun making its presence known as early as 1962, stood up to defend the honor of American pop music.
That group was The Beach Boys.
Their music, based on surfing and girls, had an all-American sensibility that no imported group could match. They had their first Top 20 hit, Surfin’ Safari, in 1962. The next year they entered the Top 10 for the first time with Surfin’ USA, which peaked at number 3. Their first number one single? I Get Around. To put that in perspective, in April the Beatles had the top 5 songs on the Billboard chart, and 14 songs in the Top 100.
The Beach Boys were serious about taking on the Beatles, as evidenced by the production of Good Vibrations. It took more than ten months to create, and at the time was considered their masterpiece.
I remember hearing it when I went to see The Beach Boys at The Dome in Virginia Beach in April, 1969. Looking back, I’m startled to find that the Dome only held 1000 people, since it was the primary music venue at the time for all of Tidewater, Virginia. I remember the girl I went with, the couple we double-dated with, and the single innocent kiss in the car on the way home.
I’m picking up good vibrations. She’s giving me excitations.