Since they combined elements of rock and roll, surf, pop, and R&B to create their own distinctive sound, the Beach Boys are regarded as one of the most influential and innovative bands in the history of popular music. It’s hard to think about American pop without the Beach Boys.
That’s when Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote a song that broke every record in the music industry and made The Beach Boys who they are today. It is a timeless song and that song totally changed the band’s course. It is none other than ‘Good Vibrations’.
Released in 1966, ‘Good Vibrations’ was composed by Brian Wilson and peaked at number 1 in the US charts. The song is renowned for its difficult recording process, which made use of numerous unusual instruments, including electronic instruments, as well as a number of tape edits and overdubs. It became a classic and an immediate hit due to its upbeat and encouraging lyrics and irresistible rhythm.
According to Tony Asher, Wilson started on the song because of his mother. Tony co-wrote many songs of the Beach Boys and was a great presence in the band. He said, “Brian was playing what amounts to the hook of the song: ‘Good, good, good, good vibrations.’ He started telling me the story about his mother, He said he’d always thought that it would be fun to write a song about vibes and picking them up from other people. … So as we started to work, he played this little rhythmic pattern—a riff on the piano, the thing that goes under the chorus.”
The making process of the song was also very tedious. Wilson recorded the vocals in three different studios seeking the perfect one. Also, this song doesn’t feature any Beach Boys members playing musical instruments. The song was backed by The Wrecking Crew. According to bassist Carol Kaye (Wrecking Crew), “By that time, Brian was showing a lot of genius writing, He was growing all the time and we didn’t know where it would end. I didn’t know about the drugs until later on, but he did start doing things in a piecemeal fashion. It was like he was scoring a movie. But 12 dates on ‘Good Vibrations’ – at three hours a date – is a long, long time to spend on one song. It was very unusual.”
In 17 recording sessions, Brian Wilson experimented with this composition, which he dubbed a “Pocket Symphony.” It cost roughly $50,000 to produce, making it the most costly pop song ever to be recorded at the time. There were at least 12 musicians present throughout the sessions, and about 90 hours of studio time and 70 hours of tape were used. It’s difficult to tell which performers’ performances made it onto the album, but some of them included Glen Campbell on lead guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on organ, and Al de Lory on bass (piano).
The song has received accolades from music reviewers and has been performed by many musicians. Some have even referred to it as one of the greatest songs of all time. It is regarded as one of the Beach Boys’ most notable songs from their mid-1960s heyday.