i’m still riding high on the T.A.M.I. show from last week, i guess.
when i was about 9 or so, my oldest brother, BTD, bought the compilation album endless summer, a move which effectively made me a fan of the beach boys lock, stock, and surfboard. i probably played that LP more than he ever did, as i loved the warm sounds the band evoked on countless songs. my dad, with his ever-discerning ear for melody, eventually pointed me toward some of the more challenging songs not present on that compilation, like god only knows, a product of the famous pet sounds album. it is well-known how super genius brian wilson was attempting to keep up with the beatles in the mid-1960s; he tired of writing about surf and girls and cars and moved on to significantly complex musical ideas. (and i’m pretty sure that the beatles adored him as well.)
but before brian veered down the road of creative genius/man who laid in bed for years, he composed things that were a little weightier but not as heavy as what would come. one of these songs, girl don’t tell me (a song which wilson claimed in his autobiography that he wrote alone, which resulted in mike love successfully suing him for songwriting credits), i believe, was actually written in 1965 for the beatles to record. the beatles, of course, never recorded the song (who knows if they ever even saw it), though it sounds like a perfect fit for stuff they were doing during that year (i can see it fitting in nicely on the help! soundtrack.)
why do i love this song? well, besides the interesting and moving direction in which the chords take you, i love this song because carl wilson sings it.
can you imagine being carl wilson? living in the shadow of the immense talent that is brian wilson? yet carl was no slouch in the talent department, and i wish more people realized that fact. his lovely alto graces so many classic beach boys songs following this one (yeah, he sang on a few before, but to me, girl don’t tell me is the first song of any significance that his voice graces.) not knocking mike love, of course, but his voice would not fit the bill on songs like this and god only knows and even good vibrations.
sadly, carl wilson lost his cancer battle over 10 years ago; but his stellar guitar work and his evocative singing are still with us. it’s hard to come out from the shadow of a sibling who looms so large; but carl definitely did his best to do so, in a quiet but consistently solid way.