I Get Around - The Beach Boys

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"I Get Around" - The Beach Boys (1964)

The first bona-fide hit for The Beach Boys in May 1964, “I Get Around” is recognized for its innovative use of fuzz-guitar opening, stop-start rhythms and a key-board line working in and out of the track. It captured the imagination of its listeners by calling to mind a time and a place of carefree youth in Southern California that many could only dream of.

The track featured a raw core, a catchy and uplifting tune, and with very accessible lyrics. It celebrates the joy of cruising around town with friends and chasing after girls, but under the surface lurks the confusing tension of adolescence. Between “getting bugged driving up the same old strip/I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip” and “We’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet” lies the transition to manhood. This narrative is caught by the tune that contrasts rock-styled verse melodies with a contemporary pop chorus and lifts the production to a higher level.

The verses are sung by a growling Mike Love and guided by stomping beats and provocative guitar riff which assert a masculine desire for cool recognition. The vocals are accompanied by Brian Wilson’s heavenly falsetto and bring to mind a smoother, softer world, a free-wheeling attitude of riding in the car with the top down, the wind blowing through your hair, laying off any doubts and worries. The sum of all these ground breaking touches was a fortified hit that established The Beach Boys as the only legitimate competitors to the chart-dominating Beatles.

During the recording of the track, Brian Wilson dismissed his father Murray as manager, a role that the elder Wilson had assumed since the band’s inception. Once released from his father’s overbearing influence, the budding genius came to enjoy full artistic freedom and blossomed. The experimental nature of the arrangement, the deeper significance of the lyrics and their correlation to the vocals and instrumentation can be attributed to Brian Wilson’s new found liberties. But beyond all the pioneering qualities at its raw core catchy, uplifting tune with accessible lyrics.

Though Brian Wilson originally got sole credit for writing the track, Mike Love later claimed he had a part in writing the lyrics. In the 1990s, Love filed and then won a law suit against Wilson and the song-writing credit was subsequently amended.

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