The Top 10 of a Musical Genius
From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific songwriting propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains popular to this day.
Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.
Today Brian is again touring, writing and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by songwriters everywhere. Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.
So when Brian offers an opinion regarding rock and roll music, it usually garners some attention. A few years ago he gave us a top ten list of his favorite songs of summer. To no one’s surprise, a couple of Beach Boys’ songs made the list, but there are also a few interesting choices:
1. Hot Fun In The Summertime: Sly and the Family Stone.
2. In The Summer Time: Mungo Jerry.
3. I Get Around: The Beach Boys.
4. Be My Baby: The Ronettes.
5. California Girls: The Beach Boys.
6. Give Me Some Lovin’: Spencer Davis Group.
7. Hey Jude: The Beatles.
8. Honky Tonk Women: The Rolling Stones.
9. My Obsession: The Rolling Stones.
10. Mony Mony: Tommy James and the Shondells.
I don’t know how some of these songs were chosen for a summertime list, but it is Brian’s list so he can do as he pleases. I am happy to modify it a bit. You can follow with your own list in the comments if you are so inclined. First of all, any song I have to look up because I never heard of it needs to go.
“My Obsession” by the Rolling Stones is an early hit that really offers little in the way of music and lyrics. It is certainly forgettable in every way and a surprise on any list provided by Wilson. Of course, we all have early rock favorites that will probably sound weird to anyone else. So, I am kicking that one off the list and replacing it with one of the Beach Boys’ top hits of all time, Little Surfer Girl.
Next, I have to replace the overdone Hey Jude. While McCartney still uses this epic to kill 10 minutes of every concert, I think it is time to retire it. Seriously, have you seen any performance of McCartney, live or on television, that did not contain an overblown version of this hit? I can not associate it with summer anyway, so I am replacing it with “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. Every oldies station will indeed play the heck out of this song from now until Labor Day, but I never tire of it. That’s my standard.
I like “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Mony, Mony” but let’s replace them with Summer hits. Add Jan and Dean’s number one hit from 1963, “Surf City.” With a similar sound to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean successfully rode the airwaves on their musical surfboards for many years, cashing in on the California style rock. Another song I’m adding is “Saturday in the Park.” by Chicago — if for no other reason than to include a song from one of my all-time favorite bands, but will it make my Top Ten?
When I discovered Billboard’s list of the Top 30 Summer Songs I see there are a few more that could go on my list by the masters of their style, the Beach Boys. Go forth and create your own list and enjoy the sounds of summer.
Yes, next week you will get my top ten summer songs that are really about summer. I know you can’t wait. Just sing Hot Fun In The Summertime until then.