My grandson, all of 16 years, told us a buddy of his asked him to a birthday party which included tickets to a recent Beach Boys concert.
His parents and grandparents alike wondered aloud if he had any idea who the Beach Boys were or what their music sounded like.
Since he was born 16 years after their last #1 hit, “Kokomo” in 1988, he had no idea of the group that was best-known for the “California Sound” they popularized in the 60’s.
The Beach Boys started in Hawthorne, CA in 1961 when I wasn’t even in my teens.
The Beach Boys sold over 100 million records (71 singles and 30 studio albums) and they made it to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Rolling Stone Magazine said the Beach Boys ranked #12 in their listing of the 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time.
I was never a Beach Boy fan.
It was hard for this midwestern lad to relate to surfing and sunshine when we had snow and gray 5 months out of the year in northern Ohio.
I probably could have escaped the winter purgatory if I’d taken a liking to the Beach Boys but my musical interests went elsewhere.
The Beach Boys were at their peak in the early 60’s but they took it in the chops (as did most American bands) with the British invasion of the mid 60’s.
The Beatles February 7, 1964 arrival in New York City and the subsequent Ed Sullivan Show appearance opened the floodgates to groups like the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, The Animals, The Searchers, The Yardbirds, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie and The Dreamers, The Moody Blues and The Zombies. That era also brought us Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield to name a few.
But before the Brits hit the shore, the Beach Boys were huge.
To prepare our grandson for the music he was going to hear, we played him a few of their bigger hits.
He would respond with, “Yea, I think I’ve heard that one” or “that sounds familiar”.
So, the morning after his Beach Boys concert, we asked our grandson what it was like.
He said it was actually a lot of fun.
He did say there were a lot of “old people, white hair, canes and walkers” but he then had a truly great line when he said, “Once the music started, they all defied gravity”.
Not a bad quote for a 16 year old.
He also said he sat next to a woman who kept showing him pictures of her granddaughter during the show, obviously doubling as a matchmaker/concert-goer.
While fully aware of the Beach Boys and their musical legacy, I wonder how old Baby Boomers can relate 50+ years after their heyday to the songs of the southern California group.
Seems to me, some revisions or tweaking of tunes might be appropriate.
Should they be playing “Help Me Up Rhonda?”
“(I Can’t) Dance, Dance Dance.”
“Sloop John B-M”
“When I Grow Up (to be an Old Man)”
“Wouldn’t it be Nice (if I Could Hear You?)”
“I Married the Little Old Lady From Pasadena”.
“(I’m too Tired to Have) Fun, Fun, Fun”
“God Only Knows (Where I Put my Keys)”
“I (Can’t) Get Around.”
“Do It Again (I Forgot the First Time)”.
“Good Vibrations (in my Recliner)”
“Be True to Your Stool”.
“Don’t Worry Baby (The Test Came Back Negative)”
But brothers Brian, Carl and Mike Wilson plus cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine did craft something unique that has stood the test of time.
The whole “nostalgia” thing is because of the sheer numbers of Baby Boomers still drawing breaths these days.
That music of the 60’s talked about things that we could relate to while we were navigating our “treacherous teens”.
When our parents were kids, they had their Big Bands.
I heard a lot of that around the house growing up and didn’t like it then.
But today, I hear Big Band and swing era songs that I actually like.
The music of our youth is a bit of a security blanket to our past.
Things weren’t necessarily better “in the old days” because our mind has a way of easing or erasing the unpleasant “stuff”.
Even to this day, I can hear certain songs and they will trigger very specific memories, places and times.
I think that’s a somewhat common thing to folks who grew up listening to the radio.
The song, “98.6” by Keith makes me remember a triple date I went on and Don Eyerly drove his Dad’s monster of a station wagon.
Even to this day, EVERY time I hear Oliver’s late 60’s hit, “Good Morning Starshine”, I think of a morning I bounded down the steps at my first radio job to see my eventual wife waiting in her car to take us back to Mansfield, OH.
I hear Christoper Cross sing “Sailing” and I’m camping on the beach on Pelee Island with family and friends.
I sometimes wonder if the whole music video era screwed up that individual “video” thing we made in our minds when we were younger.
I wonder if the musical “genetics” of humans have been damaged by someone else’s interpretation of the music and lyrics represented by music videos.
Perhaps this is a Clint Eastwood “get off my lawn” old man statement, but I wonder what artists and groups today will still be performing in 50 years and drawing large crowds.
If this were a betting line and I was looking at the “over/under” number, I’d say “Slim and none.”