Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
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"Good Vibrations" - The Beach Boys (1966)
Brian Wilson decided that if you were a teenager in 1966, your religion was rock and roll and when "Good Vibrations" came on the radio it was prayer time.
What were vibrations even doing in a rock song?
When Wilson was a child his mother told him that dogs could pick up vibrations from people, and that they would bark at “bad” vibrations. He carried this idea of vibrations all of his life. His cousin and fellow Beach Boy member Mike Love was more of an optimist and added the word good to the concept.
The line, "I, I love the colorful clothes she wears, and the way the sunlight plays upon her hair” was about a boy so infatuated with a girl that weird vibrations were coursing through his veins. It is essentially a sophisticated interpretation of a young boys emerging sexuality. The story of a teenage boy’s new found vibrations.
The track required seventeen recording sessions at four different recording studios, over 90 hours of magnetic recording tape and cost over fifty thousand dollars to produce- a huge amount in those days.
The unusual, high-pitched instrument in the track was a Theremin, which uses electric current to produce its unique sound. The Theremin, until then a little known instrument used mostly in horror films gave the song an otherworldly feel- just the right sound for a boy who was vibrating at the sight of a beautiful girl. It was also one of the very first uses of cellos and a stand-up bass in a pop song.
Carl Wilson’s falsetto and Mike Love’s second lead and the rest of the band’s playful, “oom bop bop good vibrations” and “ah ah my my what elation” created a new path for pop music which didn’t rely solely on the music and instruments- but what came in the middle.
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