Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"Don't Worry Baby" (1964)

23. Beach Boys, "Don't Worry Baby" (June 27, 1964, #24)

It's a well-known fact that Brian Wilson did not surf—nor, by the time he set himself to paying tribute to and matching the various heights of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," had he ever taken to hot-rod racing, in the streets or otherwise. But obviously he knew it would have been the kind of thing that would worry him if he did. And so, with co-writer Roger Christian, he sighed softly and leaned back and imagined a girlfriend, one who would comfort and help to relieve him of these worries. One who no doubt looked a good deal like Ronnie Spector. And in letting his imagination roam among the febrile fantasies of the gunning engines, the hooting and the jeering, in the gloaming which closes down so heartlessly, he hatched something that will always be tremendously beautiful. It moves at a stately pace, with cascading sheets of harmonies that drop in like fruit falling from a tree, with a harsh but sweetly insistent rhythm guitar, and words that tell the story straight and bare the feelings plain: "Well it's been building up inside of me / For oh I don't know how long," he says. "I guess I should've kept my mouth shut / When I start to brag about my car / But I can't back down now because / I pushed the other guys too far." But, and this is the good part on every level, "She told me 'Baby, when you race today / Just take along my love with you / And if you knew how much I loved you / Baby nothing could go wrong with you.'" And the chorus: "Don't worry baby" X 3. In the face of this, how can anyone possibly be surprised by our disappointment that life isn't always just like this?

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