May 25, 2006

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times"

I was familiar with "Wouldn't It Be Nice," from The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, but most of the tracks I'd never heard, the first time I listened to it all the way through. I really like it and am amongst those who think Pet Sounds is one of the best and most important pop/rock albums ever made. I think the key to feeling that way about it is to have heard it for the first time while "coming of age". If one was to hear it for the first time as an adult, it would be an entirely different experience.

Of the many great songs, the one that stood out upon first listening, and the one that led me to feel that the songwriter, Brian Wilson, and I were operating on the same wavelength in more ways than I'd like to admit, was "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" (this version, by the way, is a different mix and arrangement than found on the album). There are many songs that better express angst, but I can't think of many that so encapsulate the feeling of fatigued whininess and frustration everyone has felt, at least once.

This is footage of "The Boys" (with Brian) and their wives/girlfriends riding motorcycles, swimming, and frolicking through grassy fields in Hawaii, circa 1967. It's an interesting juxtaposition--the melodrama of the song with the seeming jubilance of the activities captured on film.

I love when complete sentences are used for such huge titles: I-Just-Wasn't-Made-For-These-Times. Titles like it are ridiculous in a way I find appealing. It's like a title for the kind of songs people used to write in the 30s, 40s, and early 50s, singers like Sinatra sang. Examples would include:

  • "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" (poetic)

  • "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" (that's pushing it)


  • "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home" (it's got a freakin' comma, for pete's sake)

    U2 is another group who likes to use l-o-o-o-ng titles:

  • "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"

  • "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World" (obviously missing a subject)

  • "Where the Streets Have No Name" (no predicate; what happens where the streets have no name?)

  • "If God Will Send His Angels" or "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" (what will happen? no predicates; still, long for song titles)

    Fuzzball said...

    Totally unrelated comment:

    I was listening to Sgt. Pepper's yesterday and I started thinking about the kind of video that you and your friends would have made with "A Day in the Life." I think it would have been hilarious :)

    DJ M said...

    Check out my BEACH BOYS/BRIAN WILSON blog:

    Chris said...

    No doubt, fuzzball, we'd have done something wacky. Something sped up and goofy: "woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head..."

    I've been to your site, dj m. When you linked to my previous two Pet Sounds videos, I checked it out. I liked it quite a lot. I have a couple of Smile era videos coming up.