Saturday, November 26, 2016

SHG: The Beach Boys: "Barbara Ann"

The Beach Boys: “Barbara Ann”
Entered the chart on: 1/15/66
Peaked on: 1/29/66
Weeks at #2: 2
Songs at #1: “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles and “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

I was just about to say, “I can’t believe this is the first Beach Boys song we’re covering at Second Hand Goods. Spoiler alert: it’s also the only Beach Boys song we’ll be covering.

Hopefully, the Beach Boys should need no introduction. Piggybacking on a popular trend for summer fun pastimes, they went on to take vocal harmony pop to its very limits. This tune was right on the cusp, before they released their legendary Pet Sounds album, where chief songwriter Brian Wilson attempted to take them away from surfing/cars/high school tunes and start making “grown up” music. Unfortunately, his attempts at following his muse were met with resistance, not least of such detractors was his own stubborn cousin and bandmate Mike Love*, who gladly embraced the nostalgia/oldies circuit, and wanted them to stay making fluffy teenage pop.

All right, obviously this is closer to the “classic” Beach Boys than to Pet Sounds. And I’m surprised how raw this sounds. The intro almost sounds like a demo. And how had I forgotten all the background chatter, à la “Louie Louie.” Someone even starts laughing at one point, and they just left it in! I think, since I’ve become so accustomed to listening to their Pet Sounds and later material, it’s easy to forget how visceral they could be (with exceptions...Wild Honey for example).

Obviously, they’re going for a classic 50s rock & roll throwback with this. That said, you can hear why they came across as so revolutionary. The vocal harmonies on this are just insane! There’s just so much going on, with rhythm, bass, melody, counter-melody and harmony parts. It never becomes inaccessible, though, retaining the delightful lead melody straight through.

Which explains why this was such a big hit. Impossible to resist.

Rating: 5

*actually said by a friend of mine about Mike Love: “How can someone be so into TM and still be such an asshole?”

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