Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Wouldn't it Be Nice" (1966)

15. Beach Boys, "Wouldn't it Be Nice" (Aug. 20, 1966, #8)

Once again emerging from inside the confines of his head, Brian Wilson here offers us perhaps the most audacious, naïve, heartfelt, genuine, wrongheaded, thrilling, foolish fantasy of love and marriage ever committed to recording media, here, now, anywhere. With one possible exception (still ahead) no hit on the radio ever captured the seductive simplicity of the fantasy quite so completely. It is never, not even for one second, the least bit embarrassed about its addle-headedness, and therein resides its everlasting charm. Used effectively as the kickoff to one of the great rock 'n' roll albums, Pet Sounds, it starts with deceptively gentle guitar goofing, a drum hit, and then the shimmering, overwhelming wall of vocals and melody and words. It can penetrate like the rush from a drug, that moment when you suddenly realize everything is different now. Listen to them putting it down: "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older / Then we wouldn't have to wait so long / And wouldn't it be nice to live together / In the kind of world where we belong," they sing, and the sincerity sparkles through. They are evidently as high as we are now, and they continue, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up / In the morning when the day is new / And after having spent the day together / Hold each other close the whole night through." Then they clinch the deal: "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do." The genius of Wilson & crew here is that they accomplish all this with such basic elements: words, sounds, melody, harmony. This thing is just about perfect the way it is. It doesn't need any help. It's all there all at once.

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