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Paul Dano's favourite Beach Boys songs


Paul Dano is an actor often best known for his works in the world of indie darlings and arthouse movies. Among his work on Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, Dano displayed a vulnerable charisma ut he has since ventured into a wider range of roles, taking up projects like The Batman and Okja, proving himself to be a skilled actor when it comes to adapting to different character identities.

No project shows this effort better than Love & Mercy, the biopic of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. In the film, Paul Dano undertook the task of getting into the headspace, mannerisms, and inflexions of Brian Wilson throughout the early years of his life and pitching the pop music maestro with an effortless candour. 

Getting into what it was like to be Brian Wilson at any age in any time frame must have been quite the feat, especially considering his immense songwriting talents and his incredible singing voice acting as ballast to some of his more tragic moments. He’s considered to be a legend of pop music, and playing him fin a film requires some considerable commitment and knowledge.

Brian Wilson has been in the game for many years now—after starting the Beach Boys in 1961, he has continued to influence pop music up until his upcoming 80th birthday, which is currently on the horizon. 

In the spirit of celebration and good vibrations, we can look back on the time Paul Dano picked out some of his favourite Beach Boys songs, and get into the headspace of both Dano and Wilson at a few crucial points in history. His playlist gets started by listing off ‘Our Prayer’, ‘Gee’, and ‘Heroes and Villans’, to which he says, “I started this playlist with the first three tracks from the 1967 unfinished Smile album. It may be my favourite opening to an album ever. It is at once spiritual, playful, and in contact with something greater than itself.”

The Surfer Girl album also makes an appearance, specifically, the hit, ‘In My Room’, which seems to be an overall fan favourite, holds up with Dano, too. He says, “‘In My Room’ is beautiful. We can all relate to this feeling. But I have also thought that this room turned into the studio. I feel like the studio may have been a room that Brian told his secrets to.” It’s a beautiful thought, and it likely helped him with getting into character. 

The ever-classic ‘California Girls’ also made it onto the list, and it even helped Dano learn to love Los Angeles a little bit more, which lines up well for someone playing a California native. “‘California Girls’ definitely made me love Los Angeles more,” he said. “What a song to drive around LA to! It is so smooth and catchy, but musically there is so much going on.”

He also chose a variety from Pet Soundswhich happens to be one of the most widely celebrated albums to come from the Beach Boys. He said of Pet Sounds and his specific selections, “These are songs that really jumped out to me once I got to know Brian’s life more closely. I never realized how good the words are on this album. Pet Sounds is one of the greatest albums ever made.”

However, even if Pet Sounds is monumental, there’s one song it doesn’t host, and that’s the one he chose to end off the playlist with: ‘Good Vibrations’, of course! When asked why, he said, “Because it is mind-blowing bananas good. The part where they start to go “hum dee dum” blows me away every time!”

Hearing Paul Dano’s perspective on the best of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys is a unique one, if only because he has a very unique view into his life—perhaps like nobody else ever has had before. If you want to get the full scope of his picks, you can find his list of favourite songs by the Beach Boys linked down below.

Paul Dano’s favourite Beach Boys songs:

  • ‘Our Prayer’
  • ‘Gee’
  • ‘Heroes and Villans’
  • ‘Surfer Girl’
  • ‘In My Room’
  • ‘Don’t Worry Baby’
  • ‘California Girls’
  • ‘You Still Believe In Me’
  • ‘That’s Not Me’
  • ‘I Know There’s an Answer’
  • ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’
  • ‘Cabin Essence’
  • ‘Vega-Tables’
  • ‘Surf’s Up 1967’
  • ‘Good Vibrations’