Vincent Van Gogh painted over nine hundred works but wasn’t truly discovered until after his death. Bach was famous for his musical talent but not his composition skills in his own life time. Brian Wilson was, of course, famous in the golden age of the Beach Boys (and is still alive), but his musical genius was not realized until much, much later. Thus, Pet Sounds- one of the greatest albums ever, of all time, to infinity and beyond until the end of the universe didn’t receive its due credit until much, much later.
I’m currently working my way through Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Pet Sounds ranks #2 on this list…it also happens to be my own #2 album of all time. I also think it’s way better that Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which ranks number one…but that’s just my opinion (Side Note: Pet Sounds inspired this album). Every inch of this album was meticulously curated by Brian Wilson into one of the greatest musical concept albums of all time, to infinity and beyond until the end of the universe…but I digress.
Pet Sounds was inspired when Brian Wilson asked to come off the Beach Boys Tours in 1965 after suffering a horrible panic attack. In exchange, he promised the band that while they were away he would create a masterpiece. He delivered. Pet Sounds is not only one of the most musically complex and integrated albums in history but it pulls on a number of bizarre instrumental arrangements including bicycle horns, plucking at the inside of a piano, pop cans and even Wilson’s own two dogs. Wilson didn’t do this in a way that sounds like a ‘Just Married’ getaway vehicle but in a way that makes you want to lie in bed all day with your coffee in your pajamas and go nowhere while you listen (I suspect that’s what heaven looks like). It was their eleventh studio album and Wilson had finally managed to shake things up and create a work of absolute art.
Unfortunately, Capitol Records did not see it that way and took a long time to support the album. The same goes for Wilson’s father, American fans (the album only hit number ten), other members of the general public and even Mike Love, his own band member. Who saw the brilliance right away? Well…John Lennon and Paul McCartney did but who’s surprised there?
In a world where we are currently inundated with sappy pop tunes, over-editing and artists you cannot tell apart- what brilliance are we missing? What’s right in front of our noses? Take the time and listen.
P.S. For a list of other cool facts about this album, go here.
P.P.S. Let’s just appreciate the brilliance of this cover for a second.