Brian Wilson names his favourite songs by The Beach Boys, Beatles, Rolling Stones and more
Rightfully seen as one of the architects of modern pop, thanks to his seminal work with The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson’s opinion on the golden age of pop is one that everyone should pay attention too. Famed for meticulously planning and perfecting his sounds with the band, Wilson is a bonafide genius behind the mixing desk and has an ear for a tune like no other. It makes his opinion more vital than most.
We are taking another trip down the Far Out archives and have come across this golden footage of Brian Wilson. The clip, dating back to 2002, sees Wilson being asked off the cuff to name a number of his favourite records which includes his favourite album by The Beach Boys.
Wilson, who is sat down on a hill while an interviewer runs him through quickfire questions, unloads a number of his favourite tracks by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Carole King, James Taylor and many more. While the interview offers a fascinating insight, some of Wilson’s choices arrive as much more obscure choices than others.
It showcases that while Wilson may have been a contemporary of these artists, many even suggesting he was a rival for The Beatles and Paul McCartney, he was actually a huge fan of them. Wilson has spent his life dedicated to music and it seems only fitting that he enjoys pop music like the rest of us.
Below we’ve pulled them all together into one perfect playlist.
Brian Wilson’s favourite Beach Boys album:
The Beach Boys frontman didn’t hesitate when answering this question and out of left-field, he stated 1977 effort The Beach Boys Love You with unnerving certainty.
Considering the band has the seminal record, Pet Sounds in their back catalogue, it was a surprising pick with Wilson avoiding the obvious answer you would have suspected of naming.
The record, which was originally planned to be a Brian Wilson solo album called Brian Loves You, explains why the album is almost entirely played by Wilson. It was written during a tough personal time for the now-iconic musician as he went through a process of mental and drug rehabilitation which meant it has that dollop of extra meaning to the songwriter.
Love You would be the last album that was solely written and produced by Wilson for the next 11 years until his comeback in 1988 with his self-titled debut solo LP.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song he has written:
Wilson stated that his favourite song that he has ever written was ‘California Girls’, a number which ultimately featured on the 1965 album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!).
Wilson came up with the idea for the gorgeous number during his first-ever acid trip, later arranging and producing the song’s recording once his trip was over. It’s the kind of song that many might forget in the context of The Beach Boys output, but it’s still incredibly vital.
The track was a hit single with ‘California Girls’ reaching No. 3 on the BillboardHot 100.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by The Beatles:
The Beach Boys man unlike with his first two choices hesitated slightly before disclosing that his favourite song by The Beatles is ‘Let It Be‘. Considering their trajectories, one might haver imagined Wilson to look to the swirling psychedelia of Revolver to pick his favourite song from after it has been considered the inspiration for Pet Sounds.
The two acts, it is safe to say, had a rivalry of sorts throughout the 1960s. While both groups competed for the top spot in the charts, attempting to one-up each other with each release, the mutual respect has always remained an ever-present.
Paul McCartney, a huge fan of Wilson and the Beach Boys, discussed his band publicly on many occasions, speaking in superlatives about Pet Sounds in particular, which is one of his favourite records of all time.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by The Rolling Stones:
The vocalist’s favourite number by The Rolling Stones is an obscure choice, to say the least. But that’s what makes it all the more brilliant.
Wilson picked ‘My Obsession’ which featured on 1967 effort Between the Buttons which was the Stones’ fifth studio album.
The track was never even released as a single and has never been played live but it’s a track which clearly had great significance for Wilson nonetheless.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by The Turtles:
Wilson’s favourite track by his ’60s contemporaries The Turtles was 1968s ‘Elenore’, a song which was written as a parody of another Turtles song ‘Happy Together’. The material provided the band with their biggest cover to date which they decided to poke some fun at.
The track managed to make it all the way to Number 3 in the Billboard chart whereas ‘Happy Together’ topped the chart a year previosly in 1967.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by The Byrds:
After a contemplation moment, Wilson revealed that his favourite track by The Byrds is 1965s ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ which was the titular track from their sophomore record. It’s perhaps the obvious pick, but one cannot deny the track’s brilliance.
The track was also released in 1962 by folk group The Limeliters and was originally written by Pete Seager in the late 1950s who released it in 1959. That said, it was The Byrds who made it an international hit.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by The Ronettes:
Without a second of hesitation, Wilson proclaimed that his favourite track by The Ronettes was ‘Be My Baby’, like The Byrds’ ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ this was a cover which became way more famous than the original version of the track.
Ronnie Spector’s husband, the infamous producer Phil Spector, who died earlier this year, composed the number with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich which partnered with Ronnie’s powerful vocals made the track an unstoppable force in the charts.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by Carole King:
Wilson’s favourite song by Carole King is ‘Hey Girl’ which she actually wrote alongside Gerry Goffin when she was just 21 for Freddie Scott to record.
King would later finally record the track and reclaim ownership of the track in 1980 on her album Pearls, which is the definitive version of the song even if Billy Joel’s is perhaps more well known.
Brian Wilson’s favourite song by James Taylor:
The Beach Boys singer’s favourite number by folk legend James Taylor is ‘Fire and Rain’ which featured on Taylor’s second album Sweet Baby James in 1970.
The song is one that Taylor wrote from the heart and follows his reaction to the suicide of childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr, whilst he was recording his first album in London. The songwriter also discusses his issues with drug addiction and fame on the track.