It was 52 years ago today (October 10th, 1966) that the Beach Boys' released their masterpiece, “Good Vibrations.” The song went on to top the chart for one week exactly two months later (December 10th to 16th, 1966). “Good Vibrations” was bandleader Brian Wilson's first attempt at a “modular” recording approach, which pieced together many different musical sections to form a constantly changing musical landscape. The song was also unique for its choice of lead instruments, which included flutes, cellos, and a version of a theremin, called a tannerin, which provided the song's eerie “woo woo” sound.
Wilson recorded the track over a series of months, using over 90 hours of tape and dozens of session musicians at several different Los Angeles recording studios. The song cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to record — an astonishing amount for 1966. “Good Vibrations” was such an immediate hit that it reportedly sold 230,000 copies in the first four days of its release. Although it only topped the chart for a single week, “Good Vibrations” went on to become the group's first million-selling single.
The song was originally begun during the group's 1966 Pet Sounds sessions, with music by Wilson and lyrics by his then-collaborator, Tony Asher. Wilson continued to tinker with the song's melody and production, but all without a permanent set of lyrics. Wilson's first cousin and bandmate Mike Love asked to take a crack at the lyrics as he had done for the Beach Boys' two other Number One hits, 1964's “I Get Around,” and 1965's “Help Me, Rhonda.”
Mike Love told us that when looking back on the group's golden era — “Good Vibrations” stands out as the stars perfectly aligning in terms of creativity and commerce: “Well, I think 'Good Vibrations was probably the height of our creativity in the '60s. It was not only successful — really successful — but it was very unique. (It was) probably the least derivative of our hit singles. Meaning, y'know, everything is based on something that came before — that's what I mean by derivative. But with 'Good Vibrations,' it was so darn different, so unique sounding. And yet it was successful as well. And I admit to liking things that are both successful and creative (laughs).”
2016 saw the release of the “Good Vibrations 50th Anniversary Edition” vinyl EP. The sunburst disc features five different versions of “Good Vibrations” — the remastered 2001 track; various sessions; an alternate take; the song's instrumental track; a 1968 concert rehearsal; and the single's original 1966 B-side, the Pet Sounds instrumental, “Let's Go Away For Awhile.”
Source: Pulse of Radio