“You shouldn’t know this music, you’re too young”, an older gentleman said as he walked by me. I was achieving a dream I’ve had on my bucket list for a long time: the opportunity to see The Beach Boys (all the living members) perform all the songs I so dearly love. I get offended by these types of comments because while yes, I am twenty-one years old, I appreciate music and I love the music that has influenced my generation. So before this retrospection into how The Beach Boys have continually inspired indie musicians to date, a little review of how they performed is necessary.
With all the introductions and deafening cries of love welcoming Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine to the stage, I had to take a moment to pinch myself to see if this was real. Between all the feuding and solo projects between the original members of the group, they looked seemingly happy to be together on stage, celebrating 50 years together. They started off playing a medley of some of their “surf” hits, including “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl”, and albeit they are much much older, the harmonies were as beautiful as they were 50 years ago. Back by an incredible band, Mike Love took center stage, with Al Jardine to his left and Brian Wilson on his white piano. It was the *explicative* Beach Boys. Every time one of their hits started playing, the audience jumped up and danced and sang their heart out to the boys who a long time ago made their hearts swoon whenever they came on the radio. Venturing into some of their slightly unknown catalogue, they allowed the other members of the band who have been with them for almost as many years to sing some of their hit songs. It was a nice break to allow the pace of the show to continue. The problem, if it is really a problem, with The Beach Boys is that they have so many hit songs–I often turned to my mom and said either “I forgot they did this song!” or “They have SO many hit songs!” So to break up the never-ending pace of hit after hit, it was great to see some of the other songs performed. They ended the first half of the show with one of my personal favorites, “I Get Around” (an ear worm that fails to escape my head, ever). I sang along to the songs, and had a surreal moment when I realized that I’m not singing along to the albums that I play so often, this is the real thing. After a fifteen minute intermission, the gang came back and started performing their most fortuitous hits, aka songs from the Pet Sounds album, an album I’ll talk about later. Playing “Sloop John B”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, and a heart-wrenching solo performance from Brian Wilson singing his song, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”–I was shocked that the didn’t play “God Only Knows”. Not to worry, because after that medley, Mike Love talked about the two members of the band who unfortunately died many years ago. They did an amazing tribute to Dennis and Carl, with the video background they played Dennis singing “Forever” while the band backed him up in real time. Pictures of Dennis slide by, and it was obvious the band misses and loves them. Next was Carl’s turn. They played “God Only Knows” to his pictures, and to be honest, I actually teared up. It was extremely beautiful to, despite their jabs at each other, see the love that they all had for one another. After the tribute, they played some songs off of the Smile album, and some of their newer material. The show “ended” and everyone applauded and went crazy, and they returned for they encore, to my great happiness, playing “Barbara Ann”. When the lights came up, everyone bowed and the trio came up on their own and bowed as a group. It was truly amazing to see these three men playing songs that have lasted for generations–which leads to me to my next segment.
Pet Sounds will always be one of the greatest albums of all time, there’s nothing that will change that. And while what that man said to me irked me, it’s somewhat true. A twenty-one year old should not be so in love with music from my mom’s generation. But what a lot of people don’t understand is how The Beach Boys continually influence indie music to this day, with many indie musicians sighting them as inspirations. At an early age, I was exposed to music from The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and more thanks to my musically inclined parents, and I’m sure people around my age listened to the same things. We all listen to what our parents listened to. It’s how we develop our own music taste, otherwise we would be lost. So it’s no surprise that musicians my age take note from Brian Wilson’s amazing writing, that man could put every chord in the world into one song and make it sound beautiful. Especially with the rise in indie surf/grunge rock, none of that would have happened without the reverb guitar, an instrument that became popular because of The Beach Boys. Half of the indie music nowadays would be obsolete because of the changes The Beach Boys made with music, look at them, 50 years later, they have over 20 hit songs, people still love them. There’s a reason for that, they know how to write a song. They know how to put out an album of songs worth listening to. This alone should be enough for any musician to take note, but in the indie world it’s so much more. Without a hit song, an album will probably go nowhere. It’s the sad fact of today’s music listeners, but it’s true, and musicians know this. With all this rambling, I guess my point is that yes, old man, I listen to your generation’s music, because it has inspired the music I love today, and without that where would I be? People who can appreciate music from all generations, all genres are people I want to associate myself with. Because narrow-mindedness gets us nowhere in life, and all music needs to be appreciated. From Radiohead to Taylor Swift to yes, even The Beach Boys.