June 21, 2006

"Surf's Up"

If you have an issue with men who sing with a high, soprano voice, do not watch this video. It is difficult for me to handle, sometimes, but when Brian goes into the "surf's up" section of this, it's sort of magical.

The November 8, 1971 single version cover art

Wikipedia entry:

"Surf's Up" is the title of a song written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. The song was intended as the centerpiece for the aborted Beach Boys' album Smile, which was begun in late 1966 but shelved in mid-1967.

The original studio recording of the song was never completed. A fully finished (or near-complete) backing track for the first section was recorded in late 1966 and early 1967, and other vocal and instrumental segments were also recorded, but a final edit was apparently never made. Wilson also recorded a complete 'demo' solo performance of the song in late 1966, accompanying himself on piano; this was apparently made for a CBS television special on pop music hosted by composer Leonard Bernstein.

Here are the Van Dyke Parks (the flamboyant dude at the end of the video) lyrics the other Beach Boys (other than Brian) weren't too crazy about:

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the opera glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping?

Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumperter swan
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-Step to lamp lights cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne

The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die

A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song

It's a long way from "She's real fine my 409" to "Columnated ruins domino".


matty said...

I think he just released his completed album Smile, didn't he? I haven't picked it up but it's on my list. Interesting post.

Chris said...

He did. It came out in 2005. I think it was on several critics' lists of the best pop music releases for the year. I can tell you it's awesome. It's beautiful and amazing.

Brian Wilson and members of his touring group, and others, re-recorded the entire album from notes that were made during the first attempt, back in the 60s. It's a fairly stunning accomplishment.

DJ M said...

I've really liked your recent Brian Wilson posts. I've put up links to them on my Brian Wilson/Beach Boys blog:


Please check it out and keep up the great blogging!


Chris said...

Thanks, dj. I'm honored you felt my posts were worth linking to at Uncanny! I've visited Uncanny several times. You guys have the topic well-covered.