BRIAN WILSON – BEACH BOYS – ” Surfs Up “

Posted: February 21, 2016 in MUSIC
Tags: , , ,

On this day (February. 20th) in 2004: Brian Wilson kicked off an 11-date UK tour at London’s Royal Festival Hall; the shows saw the former Beach Boy performing the full suite of songs from his (then)-unreleased masterpiece ‘Smile’, a project described as Brian’s “teenage symphony to God”

Surf’s Up” is a song written by  Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks five years earlier for the abandoned famed studio album “Smile”  Surf’s Up’s creative direction was largely influenced by newly employed band manager Jack Rieley, who strove to reinvent the group’s image and reintroduce them into music’s counter-culture.

Its title is an ironic nod to the group’s earlier associations with surf music, but nothing in the song is about surfing. Through its stream of consciousness lyric, the song details a man who experiences a spiritual awakening, resigns himself to God and the joy of enlightenment, and prophesies an optimistic hope for those who can capture his youth.

From 1966 to 1967, “Surf’s Up” was partially recorded for the group’s unfinished studio album Smile before being shelved indefinitely. After Wilson was filmed performing the song for a 1967 television documentary covering the 1960s rock revolution, the composition acquired relative mystique. the Smile Sessions features three different vocal versions of “Surf’s Up” among several instrumental session highlights.In 1971, the original studio recording was completed and served as the title track for the group’s 22nd album.  It was also released as a single, serving as the A-side to Don’t Go Near the Water, which did not chart.

Surf's Up Smile Sessions Single - The Beach Boys.jpg

The first is a digital mix-up of Brian Wilson’s vocal track for his 1966 piano demo interspersed with the 1966 instrumental and 1971 backing vocals. In this version, Carl Wilson’s 1971 lead vocal is also used to fill in a brief call-and-response gap left by the 1966 Brian Wilson vocal. This gap was originally meant to be filled by an instrumental overdub of some kind, but it was never recorded. The second version is the 1967 vocal and piano demo by Brian Wilson. Lastly is the studio-recorded 1966 solo piano/vocal demo, but remixed for stereophonic sound.

In 1967 it was acknowledged by classically-trained clarinetist David Oppenheim who called it “too complex to get the first time around...’Surf’s Up’ is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young musicians see in our future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.