There is something kind of magical about hearing the opening notes of America’s “Ventura Highway” the very moment you get on the 101 North (aka the Ventura Freeway). Although I realized that this song is responsible for me mispronouncing Ventura… they say “ven chore uh” and thus so did I… but I was constantly corrected and forced to say “ven tour uh.”
I also liked to call Las Virgenes (“las virgin ess”), “las virgin ayz” when I first moved out to this neck of the woods… but my friend Karen kept telling me it did not rhyme with mayonnaise and thus I changed my ways!
Since I have already spoken about America, we are going in a different musical direction today. Also, for anyone who wants a sneak preview, I have decided that this coming week… unless something dramatic happens… is going to be Beatles Week. ”Sgt. Pepper” has already been covered, but luckily for us The Beatles have a fairly deep catalog!
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
I’m a bit surprised that it has taken me so long to get to this album. It is easily in my Top 10 albums of all time and has one of my most cherished and loved songs, the stunning “God Only Knows.” This is easily one of the most beautiful songs ever written and slays me every time I hear it. What a tortured yet magnificent genius Brian Wilson was. (For (and from) my friend Pat… It is the underrated Carl Wilson singing lead vocals here… check out Surf’s Up to hear Carl’s songwriting in its full glory). Also check out Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue to appreciate all the Wilson boys’ genius.
This album works on so many levels… It’s lush orchestrations, amazing harmonies and incredible experimentation would influence generations of artists… It still does to this day. Bands I love like The Pearlfishers, Baby Lemonade, The Minus Five and Wondermints are all obviously influenced by Brian Wilson and this record. Take all that away and what you have are simply some of the greatest songs ever recorded.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Sloop John B,” “Caroline, No” were the hits and amazing songs… along with “God Only Knows”… but every song is insanely wonderful. Take “You Still Believe In Me” and “I Know There’s An Answer” for example. Wow… just… simply… wow!
Critics would toss about words like layered… elaborate… intricate… and later genius and influential… although when the album first came out it did not take the world by storm… initially… at least in sales… If you listen to some of Rock’s greatest, the album grabbed them from the word go.
“Eric Clapton: ”All of us, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everything that’s ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one.”
Elton John: ”For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.”
Beatles producer George Martin stated that “Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn’t have happened… Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.”
Bob Dylan has said of Brian Wilson’s talents, “That ear – I mean, Jesus, he’s got to will that to the Smithsonian.”
Roger Waters stated that along with Sgt Pepper, Pet Sounds “completely changed everything about records for me.”
Let this album change your world, too!