It's a major rock anniversary today (October 10) as the Beach Boys' legendary single "Good Vibrations" marks the 50th anniversary of its release.
Coming off the wildly experimental Pet Sounds album, "Good Vibrations" was another studio masterpiece, mixing a variety of sounds and textures -- reportedly more than 90 hours of tape at a cost of up to $100,000 -- that challenged both the Beach Boys fans and the band itself, as singer Mike Love tells us:
"'Good Vibrations,' the track was such a departure from anything that we'd ever done. It was Brian Wilson at his most creative, I think, and unique."
Love wrote the lyrics for the song, which he tells us were designed to provide an earthier counter to the recording's far-out sonics:
"I wrote the poem, it was like a flowery poem that, it kinda described a girl from that time period, the flower power and the hippie moment and the psychedelic era that was happening at the time...The sense I had was that the track was so avant garde and so unique that the one thing that people could identify with was the boy-girl connect -- 'I'm pickin' up good vibrations/She's givin' me excitations.' I felt those words would connect the listener to the more avant garde music and find a way to relate to millions more people. So that was my thought process...It went to No. 1, so I guess it worked."
"Good Vibrations" did indeed top the Billboard chart on December 10 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Group Performance. The Beach Boys have released a "Good Vibrations 50th Anniversary" vinyl EP with five different versions of the song.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.