Song of the Day #26: ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ – The Beach Boys

I remember when I didn’t know The Beach Boys were a big deal.

Before my senior year of high school, I equated The Beach Boys with teeny boppers, surfing and cornball beach cookouts where kids with plastered grins danced the Swim.

Then I read about Pet Sounds, the classic album they recorded as a response to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, which in turn inspired The Beatles to crank out Sgt. Pepper. The idea that this surf group was in an arms race with history’s greatest band was quite intriguing, so I picked up the album.

As anybody who has heard Pet Sounds knows, it lives up to the hype. And so does much of their music when you really take the time to listen. Brian Wilson did things with harmony vocals that nobody else has touched. And the production on these records, especially considering the available technology, is nothing short of astounding.

Alex has long been intrigued by Brian Wilson’s descent into madness. She often asks (seriously, she says this all the time) whether his musical genius caused him to go mad, or whether his madness caused him to be a musical genius. It’s her favorite chicken-egg question.

I’m picking ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ because it’s just an amazingly good song, and one I don’t own. This gives me a way to hear it more often.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #26: ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ – The Beach Boys

  1. Amy says:

    My guess is that your (and my, for that matter) perception of the Beach Boys is similar to the way people tend to view comedies as being somehow easier to make or less worth celebrating than dramas. Let’s face it; this music goes down easy. Which, of course, doesn’t mean it takes less effort to make than some of the more obviously challenging stuff. Still, I can’t think of many times I’d be in the mood to put on one of these songs or albums if there wasn’t sun and surf involved. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  2. Dana says:

    I must confess that I have yet to hear the entirety of Pet Sounds, and I probably should. I absolutely do appreciate much of their work, but just haven’t been extremely compelled to purchase their music.

  3. Clay says:

    I don’t own much Beach Boys stuff because I’m opposed to greatest hits albums and much of their music is available only on compilations. Pet Sounds is a glorious exception, and I definitely recommend giving it a full listen. The songs ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’ and ‘God Only Knows’ alone make it a classic, but lesser-known gems like ‘I’m Waiting for the Day’ and ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ are just as wonderful.

    As for the movie analogy, I don’t think there’s as much of a differentiation between “serious” music and “light” music as there is between dramatic and comedic films. Take The Beatles, inarguably one of the greatest bands ever. They put out a lot of music that goes down easy but it doesn’t keep them from being celebrated.

    For my part, my lack of respect for The Beach Boys stemmed from the surf culture I associated with the band. To me, The Beach Boys were to “real” music what Beach Blanket Bingo is to “real” movies. That’s where I was wrong.

  4. Amy says:

    And what exactly is wrong with Beach Blanket Bingo?

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