The universe is making music all the time

Younger Than Yesterday: Pet Sounds

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Words: Mark Carry, illustration: Craig Carry

‘Pet Sounds’, The Beach Boys (EMI/Capitol), 1966.

The pre-cursor to the creation of ‘Pet Sounds’ was ‘Rubber Soul’ by the Beatles. In December 1965, Brian Wilson heard the Beatles album. ‘It was definitely a challenge for me. I saw that every cut was very artistically interesting and stimulating. I immediately went to work on the stage for Pet Sounds.’ Ironically, bandmate and singer Mike Love’s response to hearing Brian Wilson’s new songs was ‘Who’s gonna hear this shit?’ This same unsteadiness and concern was echoed from the record company, Capitol Records who considered not releasing it at all. Lyrically, these new songs marked a radical change from The Beach Boys (winning) formula of ‘fast cars, cute girls and sunny beaches’. The album’s songs were steeped in Wilson’s spiritual state of mind and dealt with life’s themes of love and understanding. This, the band’s eleventh studio album can be seen as a solo Brian Wilson record. In fact, Wilson came close to releasing ‘Pet Sounds’ under his own name. Wilson essentially made the album without the rest of the band, only using them at the latter stages for vocal harmony arrangements. Most of the songs were written during December 1965 and January 1966. The album shows Brian Wilson’s growth as a writer and producer.

The thirteen songs on the album convey utter pop perfection. The majestic vocal harmonies, found sounds (dog whistles, trains, barking dogs and coco-cola cans), and unconventional instruments (flute, harpsichord, bicycle bells) created a full sound, echoing Spector’s Wall of Sound and so much more. ‘Pet Sounds’ stands as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music. At the time of its release, Paul McCartney was so blown away by the record that the next Beatles album ‘Sgt Pepper and His Lonely Hearts Club Band’, released in 1966, clearly echoed ‘Pet Sounds’ with its production and arrangements.

During the making of ‘Pet Sounds’, Wilson has said ‘I dreamt I had a halo over my head. This might have meant that the angels were watching over Pet Sounds.’


1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe In Me
3. That’s Not Me
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
5. I’m Waiting For The Day
6. Let’s Go Away For Awhile
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There’s An Answer
10. Here Today
11. I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline No

Written by admin

July 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

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