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“Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys

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    “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys is a surf song.

    Song Title: Good Vibrations
    Artist: the Beach Boys
    Genre: surf, rock, oldies
    Composer: Copyright © Brian Wilson, Mike Love
    Lead Vocals: Verses: Carl Wilson Chorus: Mike Love
    Backing Vocals: Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson
    Lead Guitar: Glen Campbell
    Piano: Al de Lory (tack piano)
    Organ: Brian Wilson Hammond organ Dennis Wilson, Larry Knechtel
    Harpsichord: Don Randi
    Theremin: Paul Tanner
    Bass Guitar: Carl Wilson, Ray Pohlman
    Upright Bass: Jimmy Bond, Lyle Ritz
    Drums: Hal Blaine
    Percussion: Carl Wilson, Hal Blaine
    Harmonica: Tommy Morgan
    Cello: Jesse Ehrlich
    Producer: Brian Wilson
    Recorded: February–September 1966
    Brian Wilson started work on “Good Vibrations” late on the night of February 17, 1966, at Gold Star Recorders in Los Angeles, California. He worked on the song until September in four different studios, spending more than $50,000 (at the time, the most money ever psent recording a single). Wilson said, “We ddn’t know about doing it in pieces at first, but after the first few bars in the first verse, we realized that this was going to be a different kind of record.”
    Released: October 10, 1966
    Label: Capitol

    Rolling Stone Top 500: Good Vibrations was selected number six (6) in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in May 2011. See Rolling Stone.

    Number of listens: 26877
    Current rank: 22 (updated weekly)
    Highest rank: 8 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)

    
    U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 3 weeks, #1 (one) in 1966
     Billboard chart listings courtesy of Billboard Magazine

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    Summary quotation from Wikipedia:

    “Good Vibrations” is a song by American rock band the Beach Boys, released as a single in October 1966. Composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Mike Love.

    Released as a single on October 10, 1966 (backed with the Pet Sounds instrumental “Let’s Go Away For Awhile”), it was the Beach Boys’ third US number one hit after “I Get Around” and “Help Me, Rhonda”, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1966, as well as being their first British chart-topper. Initiated during the sessions for the Pet Sounds album, it was not taken from or issued as a lead single for an album, but as a stand-alone single, although it would be later considered for the aborted Smile project. It would ultimately be placed on the album Smiley Smile eleven months after its release and was part of Wilson’s complete recording of Smile in 2004.

    Wilson’s publicist Derek Taylor described “Good Vibrations” as a “pocket symphony”. It featured instruments unusual for a pop song, including prominent use of the cello and an electro-theremin. It is number six on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The song “Good Vibrations” is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.

Inspiration and composition

    Wilson recounted the genesis of the title “Good Vibrations” in his 1995 biopic, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, and at other times. When he was a child, his mother told him that dogs could pick up “vibrations” from people, so that the dog would bark at “bad vibrations”. Wilson turned this into the general idea of vibrations (and Mike Love putting “good” in front of vibrations), and developed the idea of people being able to do the same with emotions.

    Wilson first enlisted Pet Sounds lyricist Tony Asher for help in putting words to the idea. Soon after they met, Wilson asked his new writing partner Van Dyke Parks to pen lyrics for the song, but Parks declined. Beach Boys bandmate Mike Love supplied the final version of the lyrics around late-August, 1966.

    A version with only Asher’s lyrics can be heard as a bonus track on the “twofer” CD which pairs Smiley Smile and Wild Honey. The track is titled “Good Vibrations (Early Take).”

Recording

    Originally composed during the Pet Sounds/Smile sessions with original lyrics by Tony Asher, the song was recorded by Wilson in sections at different studios in order to capture the sound he heard in his head. Building upon the layered production approach he had begun to use with the Pet Sounds album, he devoted months of effort to this single track.

    The instrumental of the first version of the song was recorded on February 17, 1966. It was described in the session log as “#1 Untitled” (or as “Good, Good, Good Vibrations”), though on the tape Brian Wilson distinctly says “Good Vibrations, Take One”. After 26 takes, a rough mono mix completed the session. Rough guide vocals were recorded the following day. By February 25, Wilson had placed the recording on hold in order to devote attention to the Pet Sounds album. The track was revisited on May 24, 1966, and worked on until June 18, at which time he put it aside again until August 24. The various sections of the song were edited together in a sort of musical collage, similar to the Beatles’ later “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “A Day in the Life” records, both inspired by the works of Brian Wilson (according to Paul McCartney).

    The distinctive high-pitched sliding electronic sound in the choruses and at the end of the track was created with an Electro-Theremin, played by Paul Tanner, and first used by Wilson on the track “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”.

    The production of the song spanned seventeen recording sessions at four different recording studios. The recording is reported to have used over 90 hours of magnetic recording tape, with an eventual budget of $50,000. According to Wilson, the Electro-Theremin work cost $15,000. Wilson is credited with developing the use of the recording studio as an instrument: he, the Beach Boys, and dozens of top studio musicians, including members of the Wrecking Crew, recorded and re-recorded seemingly unrelated musical and vocal sections for the song, then edited and mixed these sections into a 3:35 track.

    The recording and production style used on the “Good Vibrations” single established Wilson’s new method of operation: the recording and re-recording of specific sections of music, followed by rough mixes of the sections edited together, further recording as required, and the construction of the final mix from the component elements. This was the modular approach to recording that was used during the sessions for Smile.

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