Understanding Rock: Essays in Musical Analysis

By John Covach; Graeme M. Boone | Go to book overview
men, was a constant musical staple in the Wilson household during Brian's formative years. Murry Wilson, Brian's father, was a pop composer and arranger manqué who encouraged and participated in his sons' early musical interests. David Leaf gives a thorough report about music in the Wilson household during the 1950s in The Beach Boys, 14-19. Sometimes described by the label "vocal jazz," this style that Brian was exposed to is perhaps better characterized by reference to its roots in the collegiate men's glee clubs of the late nineteenth century. (The Yale Whiff'n'Poofs are one of the best known examples.)
4.
" Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" was a particular Beach Boys favorite; it was recorded at least three times. The first version is on the album Little Deuce Coupe (Capitol 1998 [ 1963]), where it appears under the name "A Young Man Is Gone." Released on an album that marked the beginning of the "hot-rod" period, the music had lyrics Brian thought were unsuitable, and he penned new ones telling of a young man's death (a reference to James Dean?) in a car crash. The second version appears on Beach Boys Concert (Capitol 2198 [ 1964]) and was recorded in 1964, though without Brian on the top part. The recording from which example 2.1 was transcribed was made in 1967 during a rehearsal for a live concert in Hawaii; it is included as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Smiley Smile/Wild Honey (Capitol CDP 7 93696 2 [ 1990]).
5.
Brian Wilson's penchant for complex modulatory structures in surf music is perhaps best exemplified in "Drag City," a song he cowrote with Jan Berry and Roger Christian that was recorded by Jan and Dean. Again, taken separately, the verse and refrain are fairly ordinary; but the modulatory link between them is thrilling. The verse progresses I-II-V-I in G major. In connecting to the refrain, the final I of the verse moves to ♭II (A♭) which pivots to become ♭VII (!) for the B♭-major refrain set in twelve-bar blues form. A♭ later appears as a key area after a typical ascending half-step modulation.
6.
In his 1991 autobiography ( Wouldn't It Be Nice [ New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 1991] written with Todd Gold), Brian attributes much of the motivation for his artistic progress to an intense competitive drive, especially with the Beatles (pp. 89-90) and Phil Spector, and to marijuana use (pp. 111-13), and incipient mental illness (passim--the autobiography is fashionably confessional about these matters).
7.
The Beach Boys, The Beach Boys Today! Capitol 2269 ( 1965), and Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!), Capitol 2354 ( 1965).
8.
Walter Everett discovers a powerful relationship of text and music here. Brian's wish that "they all could be California girls" is, of course, impossible to realize; the inability of I-II to reach V, then, underscores this impossibility.
9.
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, Capitol 2458 ( 1966); rereleased on CD as Capitol CDP 7 48421 2 ( 1990) with three additional tracks not contained on the original album and extensive liner notes by David Leaf.
10.
Brian Wilson reports that the album title, which on one level is highly personal -- [Brian's] Pet [i.e., favorite] Sounds -- was actually inspired by bandmate Mike Love's derisive opinion of the music: "Who's gonna hear this shit? The ears of a dog?" Wilson and Gold, Wouldn't It Be Nice, 140.
11.
Brian cites Spector as the source for much of his experiments in instrumentation. See Leaf, The Beach Boys, 73. Brian also benefited by using many of the same studio musicians that Spector used -- the famous "Wrecking Crew." See Hal Blaine with David Goggin, Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew (Emeryville, Calif.: Mix Books, 1990), 76-78.
12.
Leaf, The Beach Boys, 82.
13.
The chord in question is enharmonically equivalent to a VII7 in B major (a halfdiminished seventh). The voice leading of the chord, however, argues for the custom-made notation shown in example 2.6a, in which G♯, understood as of A, is counterpoised with B♭ as ♭. I treat this kind of mixed-function harmonic structure in detail in my recent book, Harmonic Function in Chromatic Music. A Renewed Dualist Theory and an Account of Its Precedents

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