I guess it all goes back to the reason I prefer, by however slim a margin, Lennon to McCartney (and yes I know that this next sentence is a massive simplification): McCartney is like a soothing balm, Lennon is an open vein. I’m just more of an open vein kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong: getting to know Pet Sounds has been a delight and I understand why so many people adore it and, taken in context of its time, consider it one of the best rock albums ever made. Would I put it on the same level as my favorite Beatles albums? No. In fact, I find it hard to compare the two bands at all since, according to what I’ve read, the PS-era Beach Boys really weren’t a band: Pet Sounds was Brian Wilson’s vision, with dozens of musicians brought in to realize it and the other Beach Boys providing Wilson-directed vocal support. The Beatles were the real deal: four guys who played together, wrote together, sang together, held each other’s excesses in check while sparking each other to new creative heights.
All that said, the sublime pleasures of Pet Sounds led me to downloading the terrific Beach Boys Classics collection—”Don’t Worry Baby” is a proto-”God Only Knows” and almost as good, “Good Vibrations” is like having all of PS boiled down to one extraordinary track—and stumbling into what may be my favorite Brian Wilson song of them all: “'Til I Die.” Everything exceptional about Wilson’s songwriting, and the Beach Boys as vocal artists, comes together in this gorgeous, deeply sad—and profoundly moving—piece. So please, Beach Boys fans don’t hate me for not thinking Pet Sounds is one of the most staggeringly brilliant musical creations of the past century. Instead, allow me to thank you for turning me on to some exceptional music that I’m sure I’ll be listening to for years to come.
© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis