The Late Movies: Inside The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"

Image credit: 

"Pet Sounds" coverA few weeks back I came across this surprising fact: the Beach Boys song "Wouldn't It Be Nice" featured two accordionists, two drummers, three bassists, and thirteen more musicians. The information in that post came from a YouTube documentary called Behind the Sounds, which is going through each song on the Beach Boys' seminal "Pet Sounds" record, using archival recordings, photographs, and independent research to tell the story of how each song came together. Tonight, enjoy all the songs covered by Behind The Sounds so far -- eight of the thirteen tracks.

"Sloop John B."

My second-favorite song on the record, after "Wouldn't It Be Nice." My favorite part is the bit about Billy Strange showing up guitarless to record his lines.

"Let's Go Away for Awhile"

Take after take, trying to get everything perfect. 12 violins, 4 saxophones, piano, an oboe, vibraphone, slide guitar, two basses, and percussion. Um. Wow.

"I'm Waiting for the Day"

I love when this takes off (around 5 minutes in) with the three flutes trading off with a string section.

"Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)"

Around 1:08 you'll catch an insanely beautiful a capella recording of Brian Wilson performing eight-part harmony. By himself.

"That's Not Me"

The only song on "Pet Sounds" featuring all three Wilson brothers playing together.

"I Know There's an Answer"

So Brian Wilson is a Del Close fan! Also interesting: "the first bass harmonica solo in popular music." Certainly not the first harmonica solo, but bass harmonica -- yeah, I can buy that.

"God Only Knows"

EMI has blocked access to this two-part Behind the Sounds video in the US, which is a bummer. If this block is lifted, you can access part 1 and part 2. Meanwhile, enjoy "God Only Knows" performed a capella:

And here's the nine-minute tracking session:

"Wouldn't It Be Nice"

In my opinion, this is the star of the show.

More on "Pet Sounds"

If you don’t have “Pet Sounds,” get the 40th anniversary edition, which includes remastered versions of most songs, plus various stereo mixes. For superfans, The “Pet Sounds” Sessions includes a bunch of the audio used in the video clips above. For more on the record, check out Wikipedia’s extensive pages on “Pet Sounds.”

More from mental_floss...

June 20, 2012 - 6:00pm
submit to reddit