Composed in early 1966, "Heroes and Villains" was the first collaboration between Wilson and Parks, and it is most likely the first song written specifically for Smile. On this version, the version the cover art above was used for, one can get a good sense of what Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson's Smile-era collaborator, called their "American Gothic trip." Here it is:
Around the time of writing "Heroes and Villains", Wilson and Parks also wrote something called "Barnyard." If anything shows what I think Brian Wilson was going for with Smile, it's this one. Here is the version recorded for 2005's Brian Wilson Presents Smile:
That's a little slice of aural heaven, I think. Do you understand "American Gothic trip" now? Imagine an entire album of that kind of thing. That's what Smile was to have been (I feel). Audio, musical cartoons.
This is a really interesting and thorough dissection of "Heroes and Villains" someone did:
....the ZEN interpretation............HEROES AND VILLAINS..... ..
Here is another little clip from the excellent documentary The Beach Boys: An American Band. First, Brian Wilson talks about how "they got into a very strange bag" around the time of the making of Smile (1966), as footage from the 1966 CBS special is shown, featuring Brian pounding out a melody used on a Smile-era song called "Do You Like Worms." Next will be some stop-motion, film experimentation with Carl and Dennis (Wilson), the soundtrack being a bit of the studio work that resulted in "Heroes and Villains."