Brian Wilson and “Pet Sounds”

May 12, 2013

The Beach Boys have always had an important place in music, but it wasn’t until Brian Wilson created their album Pet Sounds that the whole world took notice.

 

Brian Wilson, from an early age was fascinated with recording music and, in 1961, even used his brothers, a cousin, a football teammate and a neighbor on his recordings. This crew would become known as The Beach Boys. Brian and his neighbor, Gary Usher, a kindred spirit, wrote songs about the things they knew about most: surfing, cars and girls.  These examples can be heard in the songs “Surfin’”, “Surfin’ Safari”, “The Lonely Sea”, “In My Room” and “409”. The Beach Boys at this time were defining the “California Sound”.

Brian’s band was managed by his father, which did not work out so well. Brian recalls that his father who was trying to control Brain once struck him in the head with a 2×4. This left Brian deaf in his right ear. Because of this he preferred to record his music in mono. There was more damage done by Brian’s father as well, he pushed Gary Usher away and Brian decided to move out and take the music with him. Even though his father continued to be their manager until 1966 Brian now seemed to have a lot more freedom.

Later, in 1963, The Beach Boys came out with “Surfin’ U.S.A.” which reach Top 10 status. This signaled a change for Brian to decide that he need to become the only producer of the music in his mind, Capitol Records agreed to this. Brian proved he had what it takes to make a great album and created “Surfer Girl”. This album gave amazing popularity to the Beach Boys and made double tracking more of a reality. Thanks to Brian, The Beach Boys now had their own sound.

Now Brian wanted nothing more but to do things bigger and better. He found great inspiration from Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and went on to create “Don’t Worry Baby” and “I Get Around”. After these songs and some health issues Brian decided to leave touring so he could produce and write. During this time the band and Brian experimented with drug use and different sounds. When the Beatles Rubber Soul album came out in 1965 Brian was blown away and knew he wanted to make something better than that.  He enlisted the help of Tony Asher to help him make the Album Pet Sounds.

Pet Sounds, in my mind is one of the greatest albums ever made. I grew up listening to this album and it was part of what influenced me to want to play rock and roll due to its catchy melodies and lyrics that I felt I could relate to even though I was young. Now that I am older I see that it is truly an amazing album and is something that I desire to achieve as a professional in this industry. Pet Sounds is an album that had a theme through the entire album; this was the first time that a song-cycle had been done.  Brian used non-instruments, such as water bottles, bicycle bells and had amazing vocal harmonies.  He also did the impossible, at that time, by using 23 studio musicians at one time. This is a very impressive thing to do and you have to be on your game to complete a recording session like that.

Howard, David N.. Sonic alchemy: visionary music producers and their maverick recordings. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2004. Print.

“Pet Stories – YouTube.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0vAL8dHBxA&feature=youtu.be&t=7m51s&gt;.

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