Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Welcome to the Pet Blog

By Michael deMartin

Today is May 16, 2006. Pet Sounds was released in the United States on May 16, 1966. Forty years to the day.

About 25 years ago, I read a review in "The Village Voice" for the Beach Boys' 1966 Pet Sounds album which had been reissued by Capitol Records. Up to that time I never took the Beach Boys seriously – I was just a kid and the Beach Boys were what my sister listened to.

The review I read was eye-opening: Even though Pet Sounds had been somewhat of a commercial disappointment in 1966, it was a favorite among a variety of influential musicians. Paul McCartney was awed by it and Leonard Bernstein praised it. Burt Bacharach and Philip Glass were equally impressed. The review described it as "a work sublime, beautiful, romantic, and introspective." I learned that the person responsible for this music was Brian Wilson.

I immediately went out and bought the album and haven't stopped listening to this day. Pet Sounds was the soundtrack of my life – the story of a young man's journey to adulthood. In a way, I was glad the album was never a big hit: selfishly, I wanted it all for myself. But like all great art, it's just a matter of time before it's acknowledged and accepted. And now Pet Sounds is regarded by many to be the greatest album of the past forty years. With that, every new generation of musicians continue to praise the Beach Boys' masterpiece.

I've been a lucky fan: through David Leaf, I met Brian and Melinda Wilson and ended up designing Brian's official website. Since getting to know Brian, I only have more respect for him as a person and his accomplishments. First and foremost, though, I'm a fan, and I thought a blog about this landmark album was in order. I also figured it would be great to include a few others known in Beach Boys land to blog as well, and you'll hear from them soon. I'll try and get some people that were there, and maybe even the big guy can contribute a blog. We welcome you to comment on what you read, see and hear on this "unofficial" blog. You can agree or agree to disagree with us - let's just have fun at the subject at hand: Pet Sounds. If you want to know which album "Little Deuce Coupe" was on, go to Brian's message board at brianwilson.com

What I want to know now is what Capitol Records is planning for the Big 40. Seems like whenever they need an influx of cash, they release another greatest hits package like "Sounds of Summer" and it rockets up the charts and sells millions of copies. I would imagine when Brian calls, Capitol listens. So, I'm going to use whatever pull I have and get Capitol to fork over some information and find out what they have in store for Pet Sounds 40. Surely they've got to be doing something - I mean the same people that practically ignored the initial release can't still be there. Right?

I'm sure I've purchased Pet Sounds in every format – vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, CD box set, DVD-Audio – but let's have another one for this special anniversary! Just include something - anything new – and I'm there. What do I do with my old copies of Pet Sounds? Well, like any real fan of the album, I give away my old copies to deserving souls and more often than not, they "get it". And, sometimes, it changes their lives.

Anyway, Capitol Records, let's get with it: Here it is, May 16, 2006 - literally the fortieth anniversary of the release of the greatest album in the history of the world, and we don't know if you're doing anything! C'mon guys, give us fans a break. Give us anything, or else I'm going to have to tell Brian ...


At 9:58 AM, Blogger bobbypennock said...

Michael, what a thoughtful and well-written tribute to this momentous album. The first copy I owned was the vinyl reissue you mention. For me, words alone cannot express my feelings for Pet Sounds. On that note, tonight, after I've put my sons to bed, I plan to listen to the Pet Sounds DVD-A. And it will be through goosebumps, smiles, and tears that I show my appreciation. Best, Bobby Pennock

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous PhilCormier said...

Well done, Michael. Pet Sounds definitely deserves this kind of tribute. I came to know Pet Sounds in 1990 (or about) as it was reissued on CD. I was taken by "Don't Talk..." first and listened to it over and over for a month. The quality of Brian's young voice is mind-blowing, full of feeling. Since 1999, I've seen Brian perform many many times and certainly one of the great highlights was seeing the song "Pet Sounds" performed that first time in Boston, June 21, 1999. It was simply awesome!
I've probably purchased 35-45 copies of Pet Sounds through the years. For a year I kept several in my car to give to anybody who said, "I'd like to hear more Brian Wilson music." Then I gave them Pet Sounds.

Cheers, Phil Cormier

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll always love the heartfelt way Carl Wilson sang "God Only Knows" and "Caroline No" in the Beach Boys' live shows. Those two numbers and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" have always been among the highlights of the BB's concerts.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Kevin51 said...

Michael great piece well written.I'm turning 51 this year and not a week gos by when i don't listen to either some cut or the whole album. First time I heard this whole album was about 1970 and I was blown away.Since then I have followed Brian through the years, in the beginning mostly with some sadness,but since he met Melinda he is in such a better place than I could ever have imagined for him. Thanks to you I have got to meet Brian and Melinda with my family. Thank you Brian for Pet Sounds and so much more and thank you Michael for the chance to nmeet this Great Composer Thanks Again Kevin and family

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Kevin51 said...

Michael great piece well written.I'm turning 51 this year and not a week gos by when i don't listen to either some cut or the whole album. First time I heard this whole album was about 1970 and I was blown away.Since then I have followed Brian through the years, in the beginning mostly with some sadness,but since he met Melinda he is in such a better place than I could ever have imagined for him. Thanks to you I have got to meet Brian and Melinda with my family. Thank you Brian for Pet Sounds and so much more and thank you Michael for the chance to nmeet this Great Composer Thanks Again Kevin and family

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Tony Rivers said...

Bruce Johnston introduced me to Pet Sounds! It was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in London 1966 in his suite. He was accompanied by Kim Fowley-quite bizarre. Anyway-what I heard blew me away, absolutely nothing like anything that I'd heard before from The Beaach Boys, but still genius - -it still is. Finally got a chance, many years later, to catch Brian with a large orchestra perform it, for the first time, at The Hollywood Bowl. I was seated next to Greg Shaw and David Bash, and it couldn't have been more perfect company, two music/Brian loving people. 75 degrees, under the stars in Los Angeles, listening to Pet Sounds.PERFECTION
Tony Rivers.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Gerry Borreggine said...

I was 11-years old when I rushed to the record store to get the new Beach Boys' album, Pet Sounds. I was crestfallen when I got my first listen -- this wasn't like anything I was looking to hear.
But, I was eleven years old. I was too young to understand it.
By the time I got into high school the album became my "go-to" record. I'd reach for it when I needed to hear from a friend.
Through adulthood it has been there for me through good times or bad. That music has been a constant. It's always good.
And now, some forty years later I still can listen to it and smile at something that I've never heard before.
That, to me, is a really beautiful thing.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger chocolatina said...

I am a 20 year old guy from Spain. I have to admit that the first time I saw Pet Sounds in a store I thought "All right, a disc with this cover can't be as good as they say" Well, I've never been so wrong. Now, it has become something really important in my life, it takes me to places i would have never imagine that could exist. It blows my mind every single time I listen to it, and I know I will never get tired of listening to it. I hope capitol gives Brian a tribute celebrating this 40th anniversary with any special release.
Thanks for this Blog, and thanks Brian for Pet Sounds.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Lee P said...

I am 47 years old, married with three kids. When the kids were younger, whenever things got a bit "much" at home, I would announce that "Daddy needs to take a Pet Sounds break". Everyone knew what that meant--Daddy was going up to his room, would turn out the lights, lay on the bed and listen to Pet Sounds. By the time Brian's dog ("Bananas", I think") was closing the album, I was calm, refreshed and ready to "deal" with things in a loving and constructive manner. What magic! It approaches the supernatural in how it affects my spirit and mood. All I can say is "God bless Brian Wilson". He has truly impacted my life in a positive way.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Ogie said...

In May of 1966 an album was released that changed the world of popular music, and music in general, and in particular my world as well. It put together songs that fit instrumentation and vocal arrangements unparalleled in the music industry using the studio as it's own musical instrument. Songs were "pieced" together, sounds were made seperately that didn't make sense but when they joined the other "pieces" they became an all together unique sound or instrument.

They were crafted into a new ideal, a concept, based on the vision of one 24 year old young man. He worked with a lyricist he felt could put the words to his music that he felt in his soul. He called these sounds his "Pet Sounds", or musical phrases that spoke volumes from his soul.

He wrote of longing for love, (Wouldn't It Be Nice), lost love, (Caroline No), and all things in between...including alienation, loss of self, and a longing for understanding. These songs and words became the soundtrack of my life consistently for the next 2 years and an ongoing resource during my life.

Pet Sounds by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys is so revered by musicians and fans, that Capital even saw fit to release the "Pet Sounds Sessions", a complete box of out-takes, alternate takes, and lost masters dedicated totally to the album Pet Sounds. 4 CD's with some of the most amazingly inspiring work any producer had ever put on vinyl.

Since 1966 thousands of musicians have tried to duplicate the energy and creativity Brian Wilson put into Pet Sounds on a 4 track tape machine, and all have failed...even though the technology is so far advanced. They lack that one certain ingredient!


So...40 years later, I still hear Pet Sounds and immediately transport myself back those many years and lie awake and I dream. (I once had a dream and packed up and split for the city, I soon found out my lonely life wasn't so pretty....) And like Brian, I feel I just wasnt' made for these times, but God Only Knows what I'd have done without him!

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Brian:
I was 5 years old when I heard my first Beach Boys song. I was 13 when I heard Pet Sounds for the very first time. I was in Jr. High and going through a lot w/ school, I was made fun of, pushed around and I was depressed. I felt there was nothing or nobody that could comfort me, then I heard Pet Sounds. It opened my eyes and my heart. I felt connected to you Brian somehow as if you knew the pain I was going through. I played the cd over and over and each time, even to this day I get something new out of it when I play it daily. Thank you Brian for writing songs about life. This life was changed because of it.

Matt <><

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Joe A said...

Happy Birthday Pet Sounds!

I'm curious as to how much you'll be able to write on the subject, so consider this blog added to my list of bookmarks.


At 3:36 PM, Blogger Rob Leone said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Rob Leone said...

My first Pet Sounds was an original Capital release on reel to reel tape. God I wish I still had that....This music has been so much a part of my life for so long. I really can't remember it not being there for me. It has carried me through the joys and truly the pains of my life. I do believe it's God's way of saying to me "You are not alone, I am here for you". It will continue to aid me throughout my life. As I read these blogs it is obvious to me that this music touches us all so personally. I have had the honor to meet Brian and The Beach Boys at one time or another over the years. I want to take this opportunity to thank them all for the wonderful music. I would especially like to thank Brian for Pet Sounds. They will be listening to it 100 years from now. I bet you had no idea at the time, did you?

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Butch Groby said...

Michael..very nice..I bought PS when it came out in may 66..at first I was a little disapointed, sounded to much like orchestra music, compared to my then favorite,BB Today album..which I thought at the time was a more band efort..PS seemed more like a BW solo album.
But of course the music grew on me and was just wonderful and remains one of my all time favorites..their best singing ever..and BW's most personal music

PS..Today is still my favorite


At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have loved PS for so many years. When SMiLE came out, I was so enamored of it that I actually began to think that PS was somehow naive. Now I realize that PS and SMiLE are two sides of the same coin (one introspective, the other more worldly), with Good Vibrations as the common edge. You raise a good question: what is Capitol doing? Probably nothing. According to the PS Sessions notes, Capitol was supposed to be readying a GV boxed set. Where is it? Why not finally release everything that exists from the original Smile sessions? Forget it. If they can't stick Surfin' USA on it, they won't release it. Jason Rubin

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary has been listed at HMV for some time, it had a release date of 6th of June, which has just been bumped to 28th of August:

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Jonh Neo said...

hey Michael, I like your blog and I want to exchange your blog link with my link,
my blog is Arts Collections .
pls feedback to me.
Good Google Link About Arts

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two favorite musical groups are the Beach Boys and the Beatles. The most beautiful piece of music ever written, in my opinion, was written by Brian Wilson, when he wrote "God Only Knows". What a beautiful piece of music! "God Only Knows" is my number one song of all time. We are on this earth for such a short period of time so when we are afforded the opportunity to hear such wonderful melodies and lyrics such as "God Only Knows" and "Surf's Up" we should be truly thankful to hear such beautiful music and the messages the lyrics convey.


Post a Comment

<< Home