The countdown of my 55 favorite songs by The Beach Boys arrives at week 2 with lots of goodies featured in today's 11 songs. In response to some whining after last week's post each song title is now also a link to a YouTube clip featuring the song to allow you guys to more easily explore some new tunes. Just click a song title and go! To check out 55-45 (which now also all have links!) click here!
My featured album for this week's post is the 1970 classic Sunflower. By the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, The Beach Boys had survived a great deal of turmoil and change, both in the band and in the world. Sunflower was a new coming of age effort for the band as a whole. Carl handled much of the production work, while everyone contributed songs. Among my favorite tracks are Slip on Through and Got To Know the Woman (both with Dennis on lead vocals); Deirdre and Tears In the Morning, two especially sweet songs from Bruce Johnston; and Cool, Cool Water from Mike and Brian, sections of which were pulled from the SMiLE tapes. You can find four songs from Sunflower- Add Some Music To Your Day, This Whole World, Our Sweet Love and Forever- in various places on this countdown. If Pet Sounds is Brian's masterpiece with little help from the band, then this is the band's masterpiece without Brian in charge. Now on with this week's list!
44) Palisades Park/Susie Cincinnati (1976) - From the album 15 Big Ones. We're only to #44 and I'm already cheating, but I just can't separate these 2 songs. They were the first 2 songs on side 2 of the first album of new Beach Boys songs I ever purchased- and I still love them both! Favorite Lyric (from Palisades): "You never know how great a kiss can feel until you stop at the top of a ferris wheel..." Favorite Lyric (from Susie): "Her looks aren't exactly a plus, but it doesn't matter to us 'cause she knows where it's at and she gets you there in seconds flat!"
43) Wake the World (1969) - From the album Live In London '69. The song was first featured on the 1968 album Friends, but it's this live version that has always stuck with me. Mike tells the crowd that they usually begin it in total darkness, which given the lyrical content would be amazing. I cannot overstate what an amazing live band they became over the years. Favorite Lyric: "One by one the stars appear, the sky grows brighter and we're in another sunrise- Wake the world with a brand new morning!"
42) Forever (1970) - From the album Sunflower. This beautiful love song, the magnum opus of Dennis Wilson's career, should have been a much bigger hit that it was in 1970. Some 22 years later the song received renewed attention when John Stamos' band Jesse & the Rippers and a few of The Beach Boys performed the song on the sitcom Full House. Truly a beautiful song. Ashley, please forgive me for having this so far down my list... Favorite Lyric: "If the song I sing to you could fill your heart with joy I'd sing forever."
41) Cottonfields (The Cotton Song) (1969) - From the album 20/20. Originally recorded by the artist Lead Belly in 1940 and considered a folk music staple, this song is a classic example of the struggles the band had in the U.S. in the post Good Vibrations period. It barely charted here, but reached #2 in the UK. That happened often. A shame- it's a great song. Trivia alert- the single version of the song you can hear below is very different from the album version. The Boys did that quite often. Favorite Lyric: "Don't care if them cotton balls get rotten, when I've got you baby who needs cotton."
39) It's Ok (1976) - From the album 15 Big Ones. While it was the hit single Rock and Roll Music that made this the Boys best selling album in over 10 years, this follow up also charted. going as high as #29. It's just another example of how they had the market cornered on great, fun summer tunes. Favorite Lyric: "Lookin' good down the hood of a funky ride, on the way to the tide just to tan your hide..."
38) Disney Girls (1957) (1971) - From the album Surf's Up. If every contributing member of the band has one song that is their major claim to fame, this one is Bruce Johnston's. It could easily have been on Pet Sounds with it's beautiful melody and soaring vocals. A true classic from the man who would eventually "write the songs that make the whole world sing." Seriously. Bruce wrote that. Favorite Lyric: "All my life I spent the night with dreams of you, and the warmth I missed and for the things I wished, they're all coming true."
37) This Whole World (1970) - From the album Sunflower. From the opening line sung by Brian- "I'm thinkin' 'bout this whole world!"- and straight into Carl's killer vocal for the rest of the song there is not one thing I don't love about this epic piece of music. Brian wrote the words and music, and it's one of his best. Which is REALLY saying something... Favorite Lyric: "Late at night I think about the love of this whole world, lots of different people everywhere. And when I go anywhere I see love, I see love, I see lo-uh-uh-ve."
36) Barbara Ann (1965) - From the album Beach Boys' Party! The concept of the Party album was that we would all feel like we were in the living room hanging out with The Beach Boys and their friends. We weren't, of course- it was all very carefully recorded in a studio and the background noise was mixed in later- but it sure was fun. I love the entire strange little album. And it gave us their version of Barbara Ann. An instant classic, and in the early 1980s a favorite at Quaker Lake Camp, often nearly taking the roof off the old Lodge when I played it. Favorite Lyric: "Went to a dance lookin' for romance, saw Barbara Ann so I thought I'd take a chance."
35) Lady Lynda (1978) - From the L.A. (Light Album). Remember how I said every member of the band has that one song? Ladies and gentlemen, Al Jardine! A moving song about his long-time wife Lynda that uses Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to open and close the piece. A great song from another terribly underrated album. Favorite Lyric: "Darlin' you know you make my heart sing, now won't you come along and sing a song. Sing the song of love"
34) California Saga: California (1973) - From the album Holland. The third part of an epic saga featuring poetry and spoken word set to somewhat subdued music, this song comes crashing in (if you listen to the entire saga its lead-in is a sweet, swirling flute) with all the life of a Beach Boys song from 1963, but with banjo- "On my way to sunny Californ-i-a, on my way to spend another sunny day!" A great moment from a great album. The vocals on the chorus blow me away every time! Favorite Lyric: "Have you ever been down Salinas way where Steinbeck found the valley, and he wrote about it the way it was in his travelings with Charley?"
I warned you, dear readers, that we would be drilling deep into The Beach Boys massive catalogue of songs to find my favorite 55- I trust you are nodding in agreement after that list! Stay with me, because there are 33 great songs still to come before July is over. And here's a final cut for today, our Almost Song of the Week - one that almost made the countdown. Check out Rock and Roll Music, the old Chuck Berry classic that the Boys took to #5 back in 1976. See you next Thursday!