Anatomy Of A Song: The Beach Boys Explain Origins Of ‘Good Vibrations’
First Published: June 6, 2012 9:16 PM EDT Credit: Getty Premium
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The Beach Boys are partying like it’s still 1965 as they embark on their 50th Anniversary Tour, and promote their first new album in 16 years, “That’s Why God Made The Radio.”
One of the songs that always gets the crowd on their feet is the group’s 1966 hit, “Good Vibrations,” and now Access Hollywood’s “Anatomy of a Song” series returns as Brian Wilson and Mike Love dissect the rock classic.
“My mother said that dogs pick up vibrations from people,” Wilson told Access Hollywood. “If they bark, that means they’re picking up bad vibrations. So Mike and I got together and it turned into ‘Good Vibrations.’”
The song — the Beach Boys’ first million-selling single and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser on their current 50th anniversary tour — was a masterwork between Wilson and Love.
“I was driving to the studio one afternoon, we were going to do the lyrics, and I dictated the lyrics on the way to the studio,” Love said. “I came up with the part to go over the bass part.
“So I just paraphrased that verbally and then wrote the lyrics, turned them over to Brian,” Love said, referring to lines like, “I’m pickin’ up good vibrations/She’s giving me excitations.”
Wilson, the musical genius behind The Beach Boys, was thinking big when it came to writing the music for “Good Vibrations.”
“We wanted to put together a five studio jamboree,” Wilson said. “Or whatever you want to call it — bonanza. A total production.”
The band worked in four different recording studios over a span of several months, and utilized instruments unheard of in pop music, like the Theremin and the cello.
“My brother Carl [Wilson] says, ‘Why don’t we use a Theremin and a cello?’” Wilson recounted. “I go, ‘For what?’ He goes, ‘Whatever you think.’ I came up with this [melody] kind of thing. And then [another part] with the cello.”
And contrary to rock music folk lore, Love did not despise the song, thinking it was too much of a departure from The Beach Boys’ sounds.
“That’s a bunch of crap. Are you kidding? I co-authored it. I was very proud,” Love said of the song. “‘Good Vibrations’ is probably the proudest achievement of our career. Hey, on the basis of that, in 1966, The Beach Boys were voted the No. 1 group in Great Britain, No. 2 was The Beatles and 3 was the [Rolling] Stones. So, hey, what’s not to like if you’re The Beach Boys?”
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