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#5 — “Good Vibrations” (1966) by The Beach Boys

The most famous Beach Boy hated the beach.

Brian Wilson never even learned to surf.

So in a way, it’s weirdly fitting that Wilson’s songs were California to millions of listeners around the world, who would never set foot on the Pacific seashore, either.

Many of these eternally evocative tunes, which practically qualify for solar energy subsidies, were actually composed while schizoid Brian was safe inside his home, “sitting at a grand piano with his feet scratching and twisting in a homemade sandbox.”

The songs were mainlined straight from Wilson’s imagination into other minds and hearts without number, their perfect purity unsullied.

Oh, and he was partially deaf…

The pressure to surpass Pet Sounds and keep apace with the ante-upping Beatles set the stage for this obsessive-compulsive, career-derailing masterpiece. Wilson amassed hours upon hours of tape at multiple studios to cobble together his intricately segmented, cut’n'paste “pocket symphony,” reportedly spending anywhere between $16-50,000 to produce three-and-a-half minutes of weird yet accessible pop.

In The Beach Boys and The California Myth, author David Leaf said of the single “Good Vibrations”:

Nothing but perfection here. The Beach Boys’ first million-selling #1 hit…was a major technical breakthrough…the record that showed that anything was possible in the studio.

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