California Girls - The Beach Boys

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"California Girls" - The Beach Boys (1965)

The Beach Boys’ 1965 monster hit “California Girls” played a pivotal role in forging new ground in the development of progressive popular music. The song, along with the Pet Sounds album they would release ten months later, influenced the direction The Beatles would take on Sgt. Peppers.

“California Girls” begins by lightly crawling into your subconscious with an unprecedented twenty seven second introduction from an organ solo that would set a new standard for rock music organ. Brian Wilson’s imaginative use of instrumentation is symphonic. Building from a whisper to a grand exposition of what is to come, guitar, organ, piano, horns, and drums playfully take you into the world of serious business: East coast girls, farmer’s daughters, southern girls, bikini wearing ladies.

Although the great studio band The Wrecking Crew plays on the record, the classic sound comes more from the tight harmonies and the Beach Boys underlying "ooh waas" and "oobi".

In 2011 Brian Wilson remembers:

I wanted to write a song that had a traditional country and western left hand piano riff, like an old country song from the early ‘50s. I wanted to get something that had kind of a jumpy feeling to it in the verses. I came up the introduction first. It has a classical feel. I then wrote the song in the same key as the introduction.”

Brian Wilson was the only musical artist that influenced the music of The Beatles other than the pioneers of rock and roll when they were just starting out. For example, the role The Beach Boys played in the how The Beatles created and recorded “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

That song’s origins was in a meeting between Mike Love and Paul McCartney during their 1968 India retreat. Love suggested that The Beatles incorporate a little bit of a Beach Boy sound in a song as they did in “California Girls.” He did and changed “California Girls” to “Moscow Girls” and added the definitive Beach Boy “Oooeeeeoooo” in the background harmonies.

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