Album: Smiley Smile.
If you’re an artist, and you’ve just made the greatest thing you’ll ever make – hell, one of the the greatest things anyone will ever make – by the time you turn 25, where do you go from there?
For Brian Wilson, of course, it’s been a long weird road, ending with some kind of redemption. But had he gone the full Syd Barrett after this song, his legacy would have been secure. Hell, had The Beach Boys only produced just “Good Vibrations” as a one-off, his legacy would have been secure.
For a very long time, this was the only Beach Boys song I truly loved without reservations: the early singles felt slight and silly, and things like “God Only Knows” were simply gorgeous when I needed grit as well.
But “Good Vibrations” is arty and psychedelic and does that thing where the verses are downtempo but the choruses are uptempo, and that’s just for starters.
Just when you think you’ve got the whole thing figured out, it goes into what is clearly the same song but from a different conception, and then another one, and then another one so the end result is like the several different Brian Wilsons from several different universes were able to collaborate on it across time and space.
Also: still don’t know if rhyming “vibrations” and “excitations” is absolute genius or utter trash. Must be both!
Fan-made video for “Good Vibrations”
My Certain Songs Playlist on Spotify