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 22, 1966

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

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

At the time of its release, “Good Vibrations” was the most expensive single ever released BR 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 CR 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.” WI While still a Beach Boy in name, Wilson stayed home while the rest of the group toured. This freed him to go wild in the studio, most notably in using a theremin, which 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, “‘that 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.’” BR

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.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Beach Boys
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 215.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Page 779.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 24.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 66.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 127.
  • NPR National Public Radio (1999). “The Most Important American Musical Works of the 20th Century
  • RS500 Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (12/04).
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. Page 193.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 83.
  • WI Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The Best 100 Singles. Page 105. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.

First posted 10/22/2011; last updated 4/13/2021.

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