The first album that I ever bought that wasn’t a K-Tel compilation record was the Beach Boys Endless Summer. My parents were never big Beatles fans, but they did like the Beach Boys, so I was able to wear it out playing it on a stereo.
Even though I grew up in a small-town in Iowa, I still felt a connection to the American dream that Brian Wilson wrote about surfing and drag racing. Maybe my connection was built on the subtext that I grew up with a tyrannical father like the Wilson’s did.
1. Good Vibrations
Want to hear the perfect American pop song. Here it is. Confectionary delicious.
2. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
This was the song that marked a change from pure pop, to a more layered musicianship.
3. God Only Knows
From their greatest record, Pet Sounds, this song works on so many levels. Their most influential song, which the Beatles, Who, and Pink Floyd all have spoken about.
4. I Get Around
The place where rock and roll meets Chuck Berry. The harmonies are tight.
5. California Girls
Sure the harmonies are out in front on this, but the underrated part of this song is the great drum beat to it.
6. Heroes and Villains
This is the sound of beautiful insanity, as Brian Wilson was trying to find his own Sgt Peppers on the record Smile.
7. Surfin’ USA
If Chuck Berry grew up on the West Coast with a bunch of white brothers, here is the sound.
8. Help Me Rhonda
Can the Beatles make a single with a honky tonk feel? Just listen to this one, which features Leon Russell and Glen Campbell playing piano and guitar, respectively.
9. Don’t Worry Baby
As good as any Phil Spector girl-group classic.
10. In My Room
I hated this song as a kid, but as an adult I feel the beauty of it.
11. Sloop John B
This is the song that mixes the early Beach Boy with the change that Brian Wilson’s drug use brought. Beautiful.
12. Surfin’ Safari
The lo-fi production mixes with their obvious Everly Brothers influence.
13. Little Deuce Coupe
There are times where the harmonies on this one are as perfect I’ve ever heard.
14. Rock and Roll Music
This is the one where Chuck Berry, The Beatles, and the Beach Boys meet, and I have to say I like this one the best, as the harmonies really add to it.
15. Barbara Ann
Undeniable pop harmonies, as it’s impossible to tap your foot to this one.