Dori: The Beach Boys at 60, how procrastination led to one of the best songs of all time

Sep 2, 2022, 5:30 PM

Singers Bruce Johnston and Mike Love of the American band The Beach Boys perform live on stage duri...

Singers Bruce Johnston and Mike Love of the American band The Beach Boys perform live on stage during a concert at the Tempodrom on July 7, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns)

(Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns)

Six decades after first launching as the “Pendletones” a few miles from the California coast, the iconic band — soon better known as The Beach Boys — is still at it with a Labor Day concert planned Monday at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup.

Deep into the band’s 60th-anniversary tour, singer and band co-founder Mike Love gave Dori Monson Show listeners a sneak peek into the history of one of their early – and perhaps still most successful – songs and how, at age 81, Love doesn’t intend to stop singing any time soon.

Love recalled skyrocketing onto the music scene in 1962 with “Surfin’ Safari” at a time when the new “California sound” of beach life, cars, and young romance was driving the music industry. With his cousins Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson and friend Al Jardine, Love’s melodies and lyrics helped The Beach Boys score more than 36 songs on the U.S. Top 40; four of these hits topped Billboard’s Hot 100.

Pick a Beach Boys classic that shows the process of making a No. 1 hit – from conception to final product – Dori invited Love.

The answer came easy: “Good Vibrations” – a 1966 hit.

“I dictated the poem that became the lyrics my then-wife, Suzanne, on the way to the studio,” where they were to record that day, Love told Dori. “ ‘I love the colorful clothes she wears. And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair.’ I was envisioning this girl back in the ‘60s and peace, love, and flower power, and I wanted her to be this dream, idyllic beautiful girl who was all into those kinds of positive things. Good vibrations, right? I came up with that line.”

Brian Wilson, meanwhile, had been hard at work on the music for weeks, Love said.

“I am a great procrastinator,” Love revealed. “I could have written this back in my apartment weeks before, but – no. I had to procrastinate on the vocals and I was under the gun. Literally driving and dictating this poem.”

Brian Wilson, meanwhile, “was the master of harmonies,” Love said. “There is no question about it. He took to production like a duck to water.”

Soon after, “Good Vibrations” was another runaway hit, and “we were voted the No. 1 band in Great Britain with No. 2 being The Beatles,” Love laughed. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the tune No. 6 on the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

With all their success, Dori wondered, what’s the relationship now between Love and Brian Wilson? Do the two men talk?

“No,” Love said. “He hurt himself so badly with drugs that he’s not capable of doing much. He goes out and sometimes tours, but recently canceled all his future dates. It’s sad, but between the heroin, LSD, and cocaine – they had an effect.

“But if it was just he and I at a piano?” Love contemplated. “We love each other and experienced such great success. If it was just he and I at the piano? The DNA just kicks in, but the incursion of drugs came in, and that screwed things up quite a bit.”

Meanwhile, six months shy of his 82nd birthday, Love and The Beach Boys are performing at least 100 shows a year. He calls it a “family tradition and we have the blessing of having all these songs.

“Audiences really enjoy them and it’s uplifting to us to have our songs still appreciated.”

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: The Beach Boys at 60, how procrastination led to one of the best songs of all time