The Beach Boys - I Just Wasn't Made For These Times – Pet Sounds Classic Album
Brian Wilson’s decision to leave the road and head into the studio is one of the most profound moments in rock history. In doing so, he spent more time writing, arranging, recording and evolving as a songwriter – leading to Pet Sounds, one of the most progressive pop albums ever.
What you see with The Beach Boys right before Pet Sounds is that rock and roll was about landing a hit. Not only that, but it was always about securing the next one too, about writing something that sounded enough like the last one to seal another. That idea of the rock and roll album was just beginning to exist; it was really The Beatles, around ‘Rubber Soul’, that stepped up the game in a major way. Anything and everything The Beatles did was worth paying notice to and it was an inspiration.
The Beach Boys experimented with Pet Sounds. With this album, they tried to write something more than the catchy surf songs they were known for. Pet Sounds is all about tapping into those feelings that we have as we’re growing up – it merges the emotional vulnerability of a child-like innocence with an adult musical genius.
Wilson hits the truth on track I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times. Immediately the opening lines “I keep looking for a place to fit in where I can speak my mind” create a real relevancy – how many people in this world haven’t felt that way? The impetus behind Pet Sounds is crystallised in these words: that Brian was finding a place to really express himself. Wilson has said of the lyrics “I’ve been trying hard to find the people that I won’t leave behind” that he thought he was a little ahead of his time. The lyrics on Pet Sounds just say what they’ve got to say.
I Wasn’t Just Made For These Times is a simple song. But when you hear it, the harmonies are the distinctive quality of The Beach Boys’ recordings; their refinement, closeness and warmth fuse into something totally different to anything going on at that time. There’s a quality and a blend about the voices, the sophistication of a sound that nobody has quite replicated. This song embodies the artistic statement ‘I am not going to fit into my times – I’m going to determine them’.
And Wilson did. The Beach Boys stopped trying to make pop music in the traditional sense, and tried to make art.
Pet Sounds took twenty years to go Platinum, yet at the same time it was regarded so highly. Sonic art, vocal art, fantastic chord structures, arrangements and performance, and great songs to sing. Pet Sounds has everything in it.
Watch ‘The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds – Classic Album documentary’ on Amazon Prime now.