When Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson formed The Beach Boys in 1961 along with their cousin (Mike Love) and friend (Al Jardine), they had no idea of the phenomena that their music was going to spawn. The band blended harmonious vocals along with influences of rock, jazz, and doo-wop music to evoke a feeling of Southern California surfing culture that took the world by storm. The band’s lyrics focused on the youth culture in Southern California and the trademarks of that culture like cars, surfing, and romance. While the band’s sound changed over the years to bring in elements from other genres of music, the band continued to craft its songs in the same vein of being mostly feel-good music that captures the glory of youth and yesteryear. The Beach Boys have had 36 songs reaching the Top 40 in the United States (the most ever by an American band) and remain one of the best-selling bands of all time. With so many songs having become a staple of American culture, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint the best lyrics by the band. Still, the attempt is a rewarding one, so here are the best 5 lyrics by The Beach Boys.
5. “All Summer Long” (1964): “All summer long you’ve been with me/I can’t see enough of you/All summer long we’ve both been free/Won’t be long ‘til summer time is through/summer time is through/Not for us now”
When listening to The Beach Boys, the listener is instantly transported to a permanent summer. This verse captures that feeling that even though the summer may end, the feeling of freedom that comes with the season is only a click away as the band’s music and the goodtime feelings can start all over again.
4. “I Can Hear Music” (1969): “Lovin’ you/It keeps me satisfied/And I can’t explain, oh no/The way I’m feeling inside/You look at me, we kiss and then/I close my eyes and here it comes again”
Is this the perfect love song? It just may be. This song, and these lines, capture the romance of a love song by The Beach Boys to perfection and is one of the love songs of the band’s generation that continues to inspire lovers to this day.
3. “Sloop John B” (1966): “Why don’t you leave me alone, yeah, yeah/Well I feel so broke up, I want to go home”
While this is a remake of a traditional song, The Beach Boys give it a unique spin that make it unique and a quite powerful song. Many of the band’s songs are about longing for the ocean and the surf while this song is about wanting to get away from the ocean and go back home.
2. “God Only Knows” (1966): “God only knows what I’d be without you”
Romance and love are a common theme with The Beach Boys and this line is very to the point in stating that love is the singer’s redemption. One is left to ponder if Brian Wilson may have been writing this about the creative outlet provided by music as this song was recorded shortly before he began to struggle with mental illness.
1. “Good Vibrations” (1966): “I hear the sound of a gentle word/On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air”
Love is in the air with many of The Beach Boys’ songs but rarely is that feeling captures as succinctly as it is in these lines. Love is not defined by the grand gestures but rather by the meaning conveyed by the simple things such as the voice of love being carried upon a perfume-infused breeze.