The Beach Boys After ALL THESE YEARS
50th Anniversary of Car Loving Beach Boys
The year 2012 marks the golden anniversary of the landmark debut album by The Beach Boys; Surfin' Safari. The Beach Boys provided a stimulating musical background to the golden age of the muscle car. Cruising in their open top automobiles around sun soaked California looking for girls to take to the dance was one of their favourite activities and song topics. The world is almost unrecognisable from the innocent age when Brian Wilson & co ruled the airwaves and the streets.
Man may have conquered the Moon, the USSR may be no more and a Toyota Prius may be parked in every other driveway but some things never change. The twelve tracks on Surfin' Safari were and always will be classic testament to the power of youth and rebellion. Whilst it may seem tame compared to some of the explicit-laden, stripper obsessed tracks of today, the messages entwined through the album still ring true. The freedom associated with the first car that runs and runs and runs. Escapism is still the ultimate form of youthful rebellion. The Beach Boys captured this with stories about the freedom of the road as much as freedom of the sea and soul. Even today, with all the responsibilities that come with life, these songs evoke an emotion that make you want to go to your closest muscle car dealership, hire a car and drive with the wind through your hair.
The car and board obsessed fivesome created some of the greatest automobile anthems of all time. The first of which '409' appeared on this, their classic debut. The subject of the song; the Chevrolet 409 was first put into production the year before, embarking on a successful four year run. The eponymous car was a 409 cubic inch W-series V8 engine that proved a hit with 1960s hot rodders. It was Chevrolet's top regular production engine throughout its run.
Wilson, cousin Mike Love and collaborator Gary Usher wrote the song after the latter described his aspiration to one day own a Chevrolet 409. A year after its creation, the 409 had become a sex symbol amongst teenagers and young adults. Like many songs about cars; the lyrics read like a love song. Ripe with pride and jealousy (“Nothing can touch my 409” being one such refrain in the tune) the song is a multi-vocal homage to a very pure love.
The Beach Boys weren't a one car band though as their later hits would testify. A number of other muscle cars were drooled over and proudly displayed throughout the discography of one of America's greatest ever rock n roll bands. Car makers of the time must have been desperate for the influential band to record a song about one of their products.
Fun, Fun, Fun is one of the biggest hits of the bands long, wildly successful career. It centres around the tale of a stolen Ford Thunderbird. The Beach Boys were in the KNAK radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah when they overheard the daughter of the station owner complain about her father taking away her T Bird. The now infamous girl in question Shirley Johnson England took her fathers car without permission drove it to the library to study, then decided to meet up with her friends and go to a hamburger stand and drive-in movie.
The archetypal song of innocent teenage rebellion and the strive for freedom in formative years. Covered by immeasurable other bands in the decades since it release in 1964; Fun, Fun, Fun strikes a timeless nerve with generation after generation.
Another Ford that struck a nerve with the band was Ford Model B. Informally known as the Deuce Coupe, it formed the title for the bands fourth studio album, lead track and single: Little Deuce Coupe. By now the band were focussing their song writing attention much more on cars than they did on the surfing lifestyle.
Tracks on Little Deuce Couple included Car Crazy Cutie, Cherry, Cherry Coupe, 409 (again), Shut Down (centred around a drag race), Our Car Club and Custom Machine. The fact that the majority of the band could not surf but could all drive was becoming more and more evident with every release.
Even though the bands main songwriter Brian Wilson this year has celebrated his 70th birthday, his songs are still beacons of inspiration for generations of freedom loving muscle car obsessive teens, young adults and the older generations. There are still not many better bands to listen to whilst cruising in your customised T Bird, 'Stang or Chevrolet.