Good Vibrations: A Musical Milestone
On this date in 1966, Brian Wilson began recording what would come to be the Beach Boys single “Good Vibrations.”
Here are some things you may not have known about the song.
“Good Vibrations” was recorded while the Beach Boys were working on their album “Pet Sounds.” At some point, the song was intended to appear on the album, but was later held back as Brian Wilson continued to work on it.
The recording and production of “Good Vibrations” took seven months and cost an estimated $50,000 to $75,000, making it the most expensive single ever made up to that time. The entire “Pet Sounds” album had cost $70,000, which was an unusually high cost for an album at the time.
Wilson worked on individual portions of the song, and spliced them together later. It’s believed that more than 90 hours of tape were used in more than a dozen sessions while recording the 3 minute, 35-second song.
While Wilson was the driving force behind the song, the lyrics were written by his bandmate, and sometimes rival, Mike Love.
The lead vocals on the song were sung by Carl Wilson, Brian’s brother and the band’s lead guitarist.
The song was described by Wilson and the band’s publicist Derek Taylor as a “pocket symphony,” for its episodic nature and otherwise complex musical structure.
Perhaps the most notable feature of the song is the presence of the electro-Theremin. The electronic instrument, which was frequently used in science-fiction and horror films, was rarely used in popular music at the time. Its use in “Good Vibrations” and other Beach Boys songs led to a shortage of the instruments. It also led Soviet authorities to exile the inventor of the instrument, Leon Theremin.
When the song was released, it was hailed as one of the finest pop songs of all time. It was the Beach Boys’ first million-selling single and their third of four No. 1 singles in the United States.
Our question … it’s more of a command, really: Name one of the other three No. 1 hits by The Beach Boys.
Today is unofficially National Cabbage Day, National Woman’s Heart Day, and National Cafe au Lait Day.
It’s the birthday of football legend Jim Brown, who is 81; basketball legend Michael Jordan, who turns 54; musician Billie Joe Armstrong, who is 45.
This week in 1966, the top song in the U.S. was “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie.
The No. 1 movie was “Doctor Zhivago,” while the novel “The Source” by James Michener topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.
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