Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sounds of Summer

     So, it's finally the first day of  summer has come and gone. The nostalgia is put to rest, and the summertime blues are in...and not The Who's version either, and the air is filled with the smell of grills and chlorine. Of course another thing is the beach. Now what is the beach missing? Girls in bikinis? No...volleyball, well the beaches I have been to have had it. Surfing? Seen it...girls in bikinis? No...wait...I've already said that...though it's my favorite part. Oh yes, surfer music! My second favorite part. With the likes of Jan and Dean's "Surf City" or anything by Dick Dale, The Safaris, The Ventures, The Trash men...the list goes on and on. Now one band I insist on taking to the beach is...well, America's band, The Beach Boys. Whether you feel "Good Vibrations," going on a "Surfin' Safari," I mean what band has their debut in 1962, and has an album come out in 1996? So everybody get around to your Sloop John B.

      Now for me, my fascination with The Beach Boys started in 1989, three years after The Beatles (technically they were my first favorite started me young.) Sure I would listen to the beach boys, but it wasn't until I was 6 that I started appreciating them. Kokomo was on full play on the radio, "Still Cruisin'" was fresh off the press, vinyl was still hip, and I was out putting finger prints on my dad's "Hard Days Night" CD (like I knew the CD would skip...though I still feel bad about it.) I would hear it, not associating Kokomo with the same band as the cheeky song "Barbra Ann." Going through listening to them on the radio and finally finding out who they were, by 1996, I was 12 and figured I needed to own some. So mom let me choose a CD out of the catalog and that was what caught my eye...Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA. TWO albums on ONE CD! I was in love! Then by 2001, my CD collection grew, I had 3 of their "Greatest Hits," 2 were free and the other was complete...and that is when I learned more about Jan and Dean and their collaborations with Brian Wilson. For that Father's day, I got my dad the greatest Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds...on VINYL!

     Did you know before Brian Wilson flipped out and went "mental," that he was friends with Charles Manson? A lot of the murders Mr. Manson did (so I am told) were the families that moved in to where Brian moved out because Charles wanted to kill him? That's what I have heard. But during the "Endless Summer," there were a few more works with bands like Chicago, and even Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." When Brian Wilson returned, he continued to produce the albums. There was even a made for TV movie produced by Lorne Michaels, the SNL producer.

     Though the Beach Boys have lost many of the members like Carl Wilson, who was married to Dean Martin's daughter. He died of cancer in 1998, but continued to sing and perform through his illness, singing the song "God Only Knows," as only he could. Dennis Wilson (founding member and drummer) drowned falling off his yacht to grab his possessions that had fallen off the side. He passed freshly at 39, right before the turn of 1984, though drinking and drugs were taking a high toll on him. Along with short time fill ins David Marks, Ricky Fataar, and Blondie Chapman, this band that started as 3 brothers (Carl, Dennis, and Brian Wilson,) a cousin (Mike Love,) and longtime friend Al Jardine, and later Bruce Johnston (came in 1965, who sings Brian Wilson's parts,) are still up and at 'em. Rumor is told that Brian will join them for the 50 year reunion tour, and maybe even record a new album. But here's to hoping that the sounds of summer are to not be silenced, and that the endless summer is not a gimmick and will continue. Though there are many summer songs (War's "Summer," Mungo Jerry's "Summer time," and a personal favorite "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonfull) those bands are more grill and cookout bands, and there will be only one quintessential summer band...The Beach Boys.

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