“Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long?” Wait for what, a Beach Boys Reunion? This did not seem likely last year. Brian Wilson had not worked with the boys in a generation and Al Jardine and Mike Love were not even talking. They were actually performing separately as the Beach Boys. Brian had returned to performing with his own band and had reached some success with the completion of Smile, the famous Beach Boys album that was never completed decades ago. As a matter of fact, Brian did not even finish writing it until 2004. Good Vibrations was released from it in the 60’s, however, after being recorded for an unheard sum of 50,000 dollars over 6 months. NO, that is NOT a Marky Mark song.
The story of Smile would take a long time to tell. It was meant to be the Beach Boys concept album, but Brian was depressed when the Beatles came out with their own concept album first, Sgt. Pepper, and he was discouraged because the boys did not want to record it anyway. They wanted to stick with the fun in the sun type recordings that made them famous. Even their most acclaimed album, Pet Sounds, was not exactly done in the spirit of harmony, even though their famous voices continued to blend like no other group had. Brian continued writing and producing the Beach Boys hits but his heart was not in it and his mental health was deteriorating. He became too nervous, or too paranoid, to perform. It took therapy, anti depressants and the passing of years to cure that. Meanwhile, his two brothers, Carl and Dennis, had passed away but long time friends and replacement Beach Boys kept the show rolling. They rolled right through decades of popular concerts, reminding us that surf’s up…somewhere anyway.
I saw the Beach Boys along with Chicago years ago (OK, decades ago). It was a great combination to see for someone who liked both of these groups. Although, I saw Chicago many times since, I never thought I would see the Beach Boys again. I do admit that I thought it would be great if Brian could rejoin them and they would actually perform together. Comments in interviews over the years made it seem as unlikely as Diana Ross performing with the original Supremes. Then came the word, they were back together, would appear on the Grammys and go on tour! I could not wait. This will be a hot ticket, I thought, and I better watch for the concert date here. Even better news was Maroon 5 would perform with the Beach Boys on the Grammys. Another favorite group would perform with the Boys! This is just too good. It would be a great Grammys broadcast. The only thing that could finish that off any better was to have Neal Patrick Harris finish the show with a medley of every Beach Boys song ever recorded! Actually, that last was a rather bad idea, good thing they passed on it.
When the moment came to see them live, it wasn’t that nice after all. They sounded OK, but 50 years after the California brothers, cousins and friends became the Beach Boys, they looked old…really old. I guess that’s because they are rather old. When Foster the People sang “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long,” I thought “NO, it wouldn’t! What’s your hurry?” Yes, decades ago I also thought it would be nice. Now, I have second thoughts. Maybe the reunion will not be as special as I hoped, even if they are backed by the much younger Brian Wilson band. I was a little discouraged.
This week my tune changed, however, as I heard a brand new tune for the first time. It sounded like it could have been on a Beach Boys album of the 1960’s or early 70’s but it had just been released. The Beach Boys went back to the studio and the harmonies were still there. The California sound was still there. By god they sound just like…the Beach Boys! It looks like Brian has done it again and taken the boys along for the one more ride. They are riding a wave of nostalgia, better than any I thought that old surf board could catch.
The new song was about the radio. That is where we always found our new music. There was no You Tube, or file sharing. No one could email you a song of post it on your wall. There was no space, my space or yours to find new music. We got ours from the radio. When I heard the new song, I did what I might have done as a teenager. I ran to the record store and bought the single for 99 cents. Of course, this time the record store is named “iTunes” and I did not get a vinyl disc that went around on my turntable at 45 revolutions per minute. This was a digital download that I keep on my desktop. If I want to put it on an mp3 player I will have to find a teenager for assistance. The Boys homage to those old days is “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” Best of all is that radio is still there for our top rock and roll songs. Good Vibrations of all types pour out of my car radio all the time. I think they always will. Now I am psyched again about the Beach Boys in concert next month all over again. It is great that peace and harmony has been restored to those old friends, and very cool harmonies at that.