15 Fascinating Facts About Pet Sounds

Capitol Records
Capitol Records

Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds forever changed the landscape of pop music. It's a deeply personal album, and Wilson's meticulously complex and bizarre arrangements elevated the three-minute radio tune to art.

The story of how Pet Sounds was made has been told and retold (and parodied) plenty of times since its release in 1966, but there are still many fascinating little stories about the album that may have gone under the radar. In honor of Wilson's 75th birthday, we're taking a look back at the highly influential album.

1. PET SOUNDS WAS INSPIRED BY THE BEATLES' ALBUM, RUBBER SOUL.

"Rubber Soul blew my mind," Brian Wilson once said. "When I heard Rubber Soul, I said, 'That's it. That's all. That's all folks.' I said, 'I'm going to make an album that's really good, I mean really challenge me.' I mean, I love that f*cking album, I cherish that album."

2. IT STARTED WITH A PANIC ATTACK.

In December of 1964, while on a flight to Houston to start yet another Beach Boys tour, Brian Wilson had a panic attack, which led to him collapsing in the plane's aisle and sobbing. He had to return to California, where he recovered and realized that he could tour no longer. He called a meeting with the rest of the band and said, "Listen, I'm going to have to quit the touring group. But it's going to be well worth it, because I'm going to write you some good songs."

3. WHILE THE BAND TOURED IN 1965, BRIAN WILSON STAYED AT HOME AND WORKED ON PET SOUNDS.

Throughout 1965, while the rest of band toured, Wilson worked on his new project. He arranged, composed, and produced the album and conducted an army of L.A.'s best studio musicians, a.k.a. "The Wrecking Crew," to perform on it. Wilson had unprecedented control over Pet Sounds, and he was just 23 years old at the time.

4. IT TOOK AN ENTIRE WEEK TO RECORD THE VOCALS FOR "WOULDN'T IT BE NICE."

Once the rest of the band returned from international touring, Wilson had them come into the studio to put vocals down on top of his compositions. It took a full week to record the voice track on “Wouldn’t it be Nice.” Wilson was so demanding that Mike Love began referring to him as "Dog Ears" and joked that Wilson was able to hear things that normal human beings could not—including "an impure thought."

5. THE TITLE TRACK WAS WRITTEN FOR A JAMES BOND MOVIE.

Wilson wrote the instrumental track “Pet Sounds” with the intention that it would be used in a James Bond movie. The original title was "Run James Run."

6. THE ALBUM'S COMPOSITIONS ARE EXTREMELY COMPLEX.

Wilson's arrangements on Pet Sounds are so musically complex and meticulous that meaning can be derived at a remarkably technical level, as music critic Jim Fusilli explained in his book about the album:

["You Still Believe in Me"] begins in B major, a key rarely used in pop, and remains in B major. The G# major chord below the first, and only, time the word "love" is invoked in the song is particularly striking; on the second pass, the G# major chord hits below the word "fail." In a rare example of the bassist emphasizing the root in a Brian Wilson arrangement, Carol Kaye hits the G# in both instances. It's as if Brian wanted there to be no confusion for the listener: in his mind, at least in this song, love equals failure.

7. THERE WAS SOME MAJOR FAMILY DRAMA DURING THE RECORDING OF "HELP ME, RHONDA."

The Wilsons' abusive father/manager Murry Wilson had effectively been kicked out of his sons' musical lives after a drunken, in-studio tirade during a recording of "Help Me, Rhonda." Despite this, he managed to use his clout with Capitol Records to speed up Brian's vocal track on "Caroline, No" to make it sound higher to his liking.

8. THE BARKING AT THE END OF "CAROLINE, NO" IS REAL.

The barking came courtesy of Brian's two dogs, Banana and Louie.

9. THEY USED SOME UNIQUE METHODOLOGIES TO GET JUST THE RIGHT SOUNDS.

The dreamy, plinking sound at the beginning of "You Still Believe in Me" is achieved by someone reaching inside an open piano and directly plucking its strings. This effect is used in other songs on the album as well, but it is isolated in this case..

10. THE BAND EMPLOYED A NUMBER OF BIZARRE INSTRUMENTS ON THE ALBUM.

Besides its orchestral strings and wind sections, Pet Sounds is famous for its unusual and almost comedic use of bizarre instruments, including bicycle horns, vibraphones, timpani, finger cymbals, Coke cans, accordions, modified 12-string mandolins, and water jugs.

11. CAPITOL RECORDS WASN'T IMPRESSED WITH THE FINAL RESULT.

Capitol Records wasn't thrilled with the album and how far it strayed from the band's usual sound. The company refused to issue a single with it until months after its release. ("Sloop John B" and "Caroline, No" were released as singles months before the album, with the latter published as a Brian Wilson solo.)

12. THE RECORD LABEL WAS SO SURE THE ALBUM WOULD BE A FAILURE THAT THEY RELEASED A "BEST OF" ALBUM AROUND THE SAME TIME TO MITIGATE THE DAMAGE.


Photo by George Stroud/Express/Getty Images

Capitol had such little faith in Pet Sounds, they decided to release The Best of The Beach Boys, a collection of the band's well-known surf and party hits, around the same time.

13THE BEST OF COLLECTION MANAGED TO OUTSELL PET SOUNDS.

Pet Sounds peaked at number 10 on the charts in the United States. The Best of The Beach Boys landed at number eight.

14. THE BEATLES INSPIRED PET SOUNDS, THEN PET SOUNDS INSPIRED THE BEATLES.

Pet Sounds was a hit in the UK, where it topped the charts. Before its release there, Brian Wilson's tour fill-in Bruce Johnston took two copies with him to London and managed—through Beach Boys fanatic Keith Moon—to arrange a meeting at a hotel with John Lennon and Paul McCartney to play it for them. They listened to it once through, paused, and immediately asked to hear the album again. Shortly afterward, the two began to work on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

15. WITHOUT PET SOUNDS, THERE'D PROBABLY BE NO SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.

According to The Beatles's producer, George Martin, "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened ... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."

Game of Thrones's Kristian Nairn Didn't Learn the Meaning of Hodor's Name Until the Very End

Isaac Hempstead Wright with Kristian Nairn in Game of Thrones
Isaac Hempstead Wright with Kristian Nairn in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Actor Kristian Nairn officially left the Game of Thrones universe in 2016, but viewers have hardly forgotten about him. Nairn’s character, Hodor, was Bran Stark’s loyal servant for six seasons before tragically dying while holding the door shut to hold off the Army of the Undead, allowing Bran to escape.

Nairn recently reflected on the role, admitting that though he only ever repeated one line, Hodor was a difficult character to portray.

“The key to playing Hodor is just being real—you really have to put yourself into the situation because you don’t have words to express yourself,” Nairn told Star 2. “You really had to immerse yourself into the reality of the scene and put in your body language with having just one word.”

Most surprising about Nairn’s portrayal of Hodor is the fact that not even the actor knew the meaning of his character's name. In his final moments, fans finally find out that “Hodor” came about from Bran warging into Hodor as a youth at Winterfell at the same time they were being pursued by the undead. As Meera yelled at Hodor to "hold the door," a young Hodor seemed to see Bran at Winterfell. Then it seems that Bran also wargs into young Hodor, who suffers a seizure, which leaves him unable to say anything but the shortened version of his dying words.

Fans were shocked by this revelation, and it turns out that Nairn was, too.

“I remember over the years, I have asked the showrunners and George RR Martin what Hodor meant, but they would never tell me,” Nairn said. So he created his own theory for where the name came from, guessing that Hodor was a Clegane due to his unusually large size—but obviously that theory didn’t pan out.

“I was surprised just like everyone else when I found out what Hodor meant. But I never expected the reaction that came from all over the world,” Nairn said, commenting on the collective depression that fans fell into after his character’s death.

While a character who only ever utters one line over six seasons might not be an enticing role to every actor, Nairn said that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss assured him the part would be worth it.

“It was challenging in some ways but David and Dan told me, ‘You’re gonna be one of the fan favorites of the show,' and this was before we even started. I didn’t really understand; I was like ‘Really? But he just says one word, guys.’ But they turned out to be right,” Nairn shared.

Nairn has taken a break from acting in order to focus on his DJ career, but he knows he’ll return to television eventually. “I love fantasy roles, sci-fi stuff. But I am up for anything. I will never do a part like Hodor again … I definitely have too much to say,” he said.

Stranger Things Season 3's Release Date Might Have Been Foreshadowed in Season 2

Netflix
Netflix

Though we recently learned that Stranger Things season 3 will return to Netflix on July 4, 2019, that still gives us nearly six months to wait to be re-immersed in the topsy-turvy world of Hawkins, Indiana and its residents. For many viewers, the best way to while away the months until the series returns is by rewatching old episodes—and looking for tiny details that they didn't notice the first time around.

Eagle-eyed Redditor msophiac recently took to the platform to share a screenshot from the final episode of season 2, which they believe intentionally revealed the date that the series would return. The image is of a date and time displayed on a video camera. While the date, December 15, 1984, might not mean anything (or at least not yet), the time is 7:04 p.m. As in 7/4, or July 4th—the official premiere date of Stranger Things season 3. There’s obviously no confirmation that this was done on purpose, but the fact that it foreshadows season 3’s release date doesn’t seem like an accident or a coincidence to the Redditor.

A few fans took to the comments section to agree it might be more than just a coincidence, while another pointed out that “7+4=11,” of course referring to Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven.

It’s possible that the Duffer Brothers, who created the series, will address the possible foreshadowing at some point, as they have been open to discussing fan theories in the past. In the meantime, we’ll keep searching for tiny details to analyze until Stranger Things season 3 premieres.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER