With the need to keep a positive outlook now more pressing than ever, we thought we’d take a trip back in time and see The Beach Boys creating their iconic song, ‘Good Vibrations’, with a look through uncovered rare studio footage.
The clip comes from the mammoth recording session for the song which would see Brian Wilson labelled a genius. A track that typifies The Beach Boys catalogue would also go on to cement Wilson as a zeitgeist songwriter.
A number one hit is all well and good but you only really know if you have a timeless classic when it’s allowed to age—gracefully or otherwise. It’s fair to say that The Beach Boys’ hit number ‘Good Vibrations’ is certainly in that category. Not only is it a cheery pop song but also a subversive piece of artistic prowess.
Wilson created the song following his interest in what his mother once determined as “cosmic vibrations” and, more specifically, how dogs would bark at people with bad vibrations. It was enough to spark some of the most well-known lyrics of all time. But while the lyrics were all well and good, it was in the production that Wilson really came to the fore.
Backed by his band The Wrecking Crew, Wilson was at the peak of his creative powers. “By that time, Brian was showing a lot of genius writing,” says Carol Kaye, a Wrecking Crew bassist. “He was growing all the time and we didn’t know where it would end. I didn’t know about the drugs until later on, but he did start doing things in a piecemeal fashion. It was like he was scoring a movie. But 12 dates on ‘Good Vibrations’ – at three hours a date – is a long, long time to spend on one song. It was very unusual.”
‘Unusual’ would emerge as a word Wilson would become rather familiar with. Not only would his personal life see him struggle with the perceived lack of normality around his situation, but also in the style of which he was creating music. Wilson would often create fragments of music and piece them together to make interesting shapes and patterns on the sheet. The method would see Wilson spend nearly seven months recording, arranging and finessing across four Hollywood studios, all for one song.
Of course, in hindsight, it was all worth it. The track remains one of the most textured, cultured and delicately balanced pieces of pop music you will ever hear. As poignant and poetic as it is catchy and luscious.
Now, thanks to this rare studio footage, we can see the master at work as Wilson and the rest of The Beach Boys power through their iconic tune ‘Good Vibrations’.