Saturday, December 10, 2016

50 years ago: The Beach Boys hit #1 with "Good Vibrations"

Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys

Writer(s):Mike Love/Brian Wilson (see lyrics here)

Released: October 10, 1966

First Charted: October 21, 1966

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 12 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 45.3 video, 241.01 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

At the time of its release, “Good Vibrations” was the most expensive single ever released FB with one claim putting the total recording cost as high as a million dollars. JA The song was pieced together from hundreds of recording sessions NPR and more than seventy hours of tape TC generated in four studios over seventh months time. RS500

The song is the “crowning achievement” RS500 for Brian Wilson, who has been called “rock and roll’s finest composer ever.” PW With the album Pet Sounds, “the Beach Boys had begun to throw off their striped shirt surfer image.” LW Wilson “made plans to create another little masterpiece, greater than anything he’d done before.” LW After suffering from nervous breakdowns, Wilson opted to stay home while the rest of the band toured. This freed him to go wild in the studio, using “an array of exotic instruments including sleigh bells, Jews harp, wind chimes, harpsichord, flutes, organ and a theremin.” LW The latter is a keyboard instrument best known for its use in soundtracks to horror films. HL While the end result employed the vocal talents of the other Beach Boys, none of them actually played on the song. KL

As for the term “good vibrations,” Wilson told Rolling Stone that his mother had explained how dogs barked at some people, but not at others. “A dog would pick up vibrations from some people that you can’t see, but you can feel. And the same thing happened with people.” FB

Wilson was convinced of the song’s good vibe, saying it would be better than the Righteous Brothers‘ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.’” RS500 Beach Boy Bruce Johnston was a little more nervous, saying, “’we’re either going to have the biggest hit in the world – or the Beach Boys’ career is over.’” HL It turned out the public appreciated the song‘s vibe as well; it met with instant success, selling 400,000 in four days SJ and becoming the group’s first million-seller TB and third #1.


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First posted 10/22/2011; last updated 11/22/2022.

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