Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Among the radio stations I have programmed in my car are two stations that specialize in “oldies;” not classic rock, per se, but more of the pop hits of the 60’s and 70’s. For whatever reason, I’ve been hearing The Beach Boys Wouldn’t It Be Nice played quite often on one or both of these stations. While I wouldn’t have said so in the past, today I’d have to say that Wouldn’t It Be Nice is perhaps my favorite BB tune.

Besides having a catchy, upbeat tune, WIBN is incredibly innocent and naive, as is much of the Beach Boys’ music. I think, perhaps, that this is why I like it so much, even though I know now that it was a façade. The Beach Boys were anything but innocent, especially by 1966 when Pet Sounds was released (WIBN was the 1st cut on the album).  We know now about Brian Wilson’s drug use and mental instability, and of course Dennis’ issues, which led him to his involvement with Charles Manson. Not the kind of lifestyle their music portrayed. Take a look at this early music video of WIBN, also presenting their clean-cut, boy next door image:

What strikes me about the innocence of their lyrics is not what it says about the incongruity between the lyrics and the Beach Boys’ themselves (they didn’t surf, either…), but what their music says about the times; during the mid-60’s, there still was a prevailing sense of innocence in the country.  Even though there were issues – drug use was on the increase, the Vietnam War was getting more intense, etc. – people at least saw innocence as an ideal.  Brian Wilson and company recognized that.  Today, there is no sense of innocence anywhere to be found. We don’t pretend that there is any innocence, and what saddens me is that we no longer even consider it an ideal.

I had a chance to see the Beach Boys in concert a little over 20 years ago, before Dennis died. Brian, of course, was not there, but the rest of the band was. It was perhaps one of the worst concerts I have ever attended. The sound was so loud that even their speaking voices were distorted. They were rude, arrogant, and clearly were not happy about having to play at the North Dakota state fair. It left such a sour taste in my mouth that I couldn’t listen to them for several years after.

However, in spite of the reality of who the BB’s really were – a group of messed up, spoiled brats with a touch of talent and genius – I still enjoy their music for what it is: a memorial of sorts of a time where innocence was still an ideal, even if it couldn’t be grasped. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a little bit of that again?


~ by Alden on November 22, 2008.

3 Responses to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

  1. Amen.

  2. Have you heard Brian Wilson’s Smile CD? Some of it is a little odd, but an amazing album nonetheless.

  3. E.R.! Nice to hear from you! No, I haven’t heard Smile, though I have heard about it.

    On a totally different subject, have you heard that Sean and Sara Watkins have joined with Glen Phillips to form Works Progress Administration? They’ve got some music up on http://www.myspace.com/wpaband.

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