In a Nutshell
In a Nutshell
The Beach Boys have had over 50 Hot 100 hits, but most people consider “Good Vibrations” to be chief songwriter Brian Wilson’s greatest achievement. The lyrics were co-written with Mike Love, the band’s lead singer, but Wilson spent months in the studio crafting the complex piece and taking The Beach Boys in a new musical direction.
Not everyone liked the new sound, though. Even some of the Boys preferred their simpler songs about beaches and surfing, sun-tanned girls and muscle cars. They were the voice of California, and their update sunshine sound had made them as popular as the Beatles.
Despite initial reservations, “Good Vibrations” was the band’s biggest hit up to that point. These “new” Beach Boys were opening brand new avenues of musical sound and production that would influence some of the greatest artists of the 20th century (and some… others
, as well), and they seemed poised to overthrow The Beatles as the biggest band in the world. And then it all came crashing down around them in a haze of drugs, depression, and mental instability. So what exactly happened to “America’s Band”?
About the Song
|Artist||The Beach Boys
||Musician(s)||Brian Wilson (lead vocals), Carl Wilson (lead vocals, bass guitar, percussion), Mike Love (lead vocals), Dennis Wilson (back-up vocals, Hammond organ), Al Jardine (back-up vocals), Bruce Johnston (back-up vocals), Hal Blaine (drums, percussion), Jimmy Bond (upright bass), Glen Campbell (guitar), Al de Lory (tack piano), Jesse Ehrlich (cello), Jim Gordon (drums), Carol Kaye (bass guitar), Larry Knechtel (Hammond organ), Tommy Morgan (harmonica), Ray Pohlman (bass guitar), Don Randi (harpsichord), Lyle Ritz (upright bass), Paul Tanner (Electro-Theremin)
|Album||Smiley Smile (originally released as a single)|
|Writer(s)||Brian Wilson, Mike Love|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
The Beach Boys were the All-American alternative to the British invasion during the 1960s
and are part of an important chapter in the history of American rock and roll
. But although their music was new at the time, the basic subject matter of their early songs was not. They tapped into the same dream of California that has brought people to The West
for centuries—sometimes in search of gold
, sometimes in search of a fresh start
With “Good Vibrations,” The Beach Boys added an even newer twist to the image of California. With this song, the follow up to their wildly successful album Pet Sounds
, they sang about more than just sun and girls; they tapped into California’s reputation as a land of psychedelic drugs
and new age ideas.
On the Charts
“Good Vibrations” reached # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1966. It was the third #1 hit for The Beach Boys, but it was the first to top the UK charts as well. It was also the first multi-million-selling single for the group.Rolling Stone
listed “Good Vibrations” as the #6 Greatest Song of All Time.