Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In the beginning...

By Andrew Doe

Pet Sounds was the very first Beach Boys album I ever bought, and I came late to it, in the summer of 1975 via Nick Kent's legendary New Musical Express three-part profile of Brian Wilson. I read it, was intrigued by what I had read and, being the addictive and questing personality that I am, resolved to explore further. Pet Sounds seemed the obvious place to start (but then, so little that seems obvious actually is). Of course, I was bowled over by the harmonies, and the composition (appreciation of the production came later), but there was some thing else, hovering behind the music, just out of my reach, some thing alluring, and yet curiously disconcerting. A few days (and many more listens) later, it struck me - underpinning the whole album, even the joyous opening number, was a sense of resigned melancholy, a sense of being slightly out of time and step with everyone else... an aura of hovering doom. That was enough - I had to know more about this man and his music, and so began the long, strange trip, one which has taken me to places and people way outside my previous experience, and in time, to Brian himself. And during this multi-decade spanning trip, Pet Sounds has been my guide, companion, sustenance and, in times of stress and discord, my saftey blanket. I may not listen to it daily (or even monthly), but the knowledge that it's there, within arm's length, is more often than not comfort enough. In truth, I don't really ever have to listen to it again: that it exists suffices. The best album of the rock era ? Very probably, but then I'm biased, and in any case, Pet Sounds is so much more than just music, however majestic that music may be. It's a safe place in time of uncertainty, a hug in time of pain, a smile from a friend, a kiss from a lover. Above all, it lets you know that you're not alone, that someone has trod this path before and marked the way for you - if you will, a light in the darkness. I cannot imagine a world (or my life) without Pet Sounds, and I am deeply envious of those hearing it for the very first time, for I recall my own initiation and 40 years on, it still brings a smile to my face. Time for another headlong dive into the pool. Join me, won't you ? The water's deep, but oh, so warm.

4 Comments:

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i got to agree with Andrew, Pet Sounds is comforting and soothing. there is a sort of innocence there, as well as a loss of it. i feel the lyrics and music are deep and warm. i discovered Pet Sounds fifteen years ago, my very first Beach Boys album too, and the first thing that blew my mind were the instrumentals. i came to love the other songs with repeated listenings. i read Nick Kent's articles too and that sparked my interest in Brian Wilson a couple years later.
Thanks for a great record Brian
Fred B

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Wonderful blog, perfectly capturing my own feelings about this perfect life companion given to us by Brian Wilson and all those others who worked on it to achieve that perfection.

It was not my first introduction to the Beach Boys, but it was most certainly my first introduction to Brian Wilson, and no doubt others'.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Sherri said...

"it struck me - underpinning the whole album, even the joyous opening number, was a sense of resigned melancholy, a sense of being slightly out of time and step with everyone else... an aura of hovering doom. That was enough - I had to know more about this man and his music". Your words are so heartfelt and poignant to me because they describe my experience as well, only it didn't happen with Pet Sounds.

In 2002 I watched Party at the Palace and saw Brian for the first time. I couldn't understand how the music sounded so beautiful, but he looked so serious, stiff, and sad. I wondered about what was "wrong with him" throughout "California Girls". Then, all of a sudden at the end of the song he broke out in this joyous smile that lit up his whole face! I was awestruck, and I said to myself, "Oh my God, he's in there!" And that, to use your words was it, "I had to know more about this man and his music."

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Sherri said...

"it struck me - underpinning the whole album, even the joyous opening number, was a sense of resigned melancholy, a sense of being slightly out of time and step with everyone else... an aura of hovering doom. That was enough - I had to know more about this man and his music". Your words are so heartfelt and poignant to me because they describe my experience as well, only it didn't happen with Pet Sounds.

In 2002 I watched Party at the Palace and saw Brian for the first time. I couldn't understand how the music sounded so beautiful, but he looked so serious, stiff, and sad. I wondered about what was "wrong with him" throughout "California Girls". Then, all of a sudden at the end of the song he broke out in this joyous smile that lit up his whole face! I was awestruck, and I said to myself, "Oh my God, he's in there!" And that to use your words was it, "I had to know more about this man and his music." It has been a wonderous journey of discovery since that day.

 

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