Beach Boys offer a look back on the good times

Published on March 31st, 2021

By Jim Dail

For more than five decades, people have been enjoying music about the sun, cars, surfboards, surfing, girls and life in general, and a big reason for that is The Beach Boys, who perform New Year’s Eve at the Pechanga Showroom in Temecula.

“Our songs are positive and our harmonies are something that really seems to attract people,” said lead singer Mike Love.

The band is noted for a big collection of hits over the years, 40 top ten hits with 16 of them in the Top Ten and four reaching the top spot. It’s not just the chart success but the fact that many are all-time classics such as “Surfin’ USA,” “California Girls,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows.”

The band began in 1961, formed by Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine.

“There have been challenges and changes that have occurred over the years from the very beginning,” he said. “We did our first song ‘Surfin’ in 1961 and Al Jardine quit to be a dentist and was replaced by David Marks, who was all of 14-years old. Then Brian stopped touring and he was replaced by Glen Campbell who was replaced by Bruce Johnston.”

But after that first record, it has been a string of hits, which has caused its own set of challenges.

“We do so many shows and so many different kinds of shows, and we must have recorded more than 400 songs over the years so it is a challenge to select the songs,” he said. “I like to start out being very retro and up beat with songs like ‘Surfin’ Safari,’ ‘Catch a Wave’ and ‘Little Honda.’ Then I like taking it down to the ballads like ‘Surfer Girl,’ ‘In My Room’ or ‘Warmth of the Sun.’ Then there are the car songs [‘Little Deuce Coupe,’ ‘Shut Down’] and the other songs we can do. Not everything has to do with surfing. You look at the ‘Pet Sounds’ album and we got a lot more introspective.”

It’s that variety that helped make The Beach Boys one of the most successful bands of all time.

“It is one of the things that makes the Beach Boys albums special, and they are completely innately different whether it is the tempo or lead singers or melodies,” he said. “They are all so different which makes it less boring.”

It is well-known that Dennis Wilson was the sole surfer in the band in the early days, but the rest were certainly involved with cars, girls, life and all that came along with it. That background certainly made its way into songs.

“We had multiple interests and subject matters that we wrote and sang about,” Love said. “We were categorizing all the fun we had in the songs, and we were also doing that with covers, like ‘Barbara Ann’ and ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love.’ There are different reasons you record different songs and I think we have captured almost all of it. And it was a collaborative effort.”

And while some songs might deal with more serious subject matter, there was always a sense of the positive, a trait that Love mentions as a key to the band’s success.  

“I’ve always felt that people accused of us being irrelevant or innocuous or superficial, but positivity is a pretty relevant thing,” he said. “Our music brings to mind and heart some pretty great emotions about warmth and love and fun and good times.”

Take a song like “Warmth of the Sun” which was written the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“I’ve always accentuated the positive and the silver lining, and in the case of ‘Warmth of the Sun,’ there’s a love affair that is no long relevant and you at least feel that,” he said. “That was the good thing about it. I think a lot of those songs bring up the positive memories and if they bring up some sad memories that’s part of it.”

Love knows all about that.

“It’s no fun if you cousin dies,” he said, pointing out the deaths of original members and his cousins, Dennis and Carl Wilson. “When we do ‘God Only Knows’ on stage, we have video of Carl where we have his voice isolated and we back him up. It is very neat and we also found footage of Dennis doing ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ and we do that with that song too.”

He still is thrilled about the band’s longevity.

“It’s incredible how powerful it can be,” he said. “Our music is still appreciated. It’s not dominate now like it used to be, but we are a sonic oasis where people can go to hear harmonies and warmth. People can leave all the negative behind and come listen and really get good feelings from the music and I am happy about that.”


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