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In Their Own Words:
The Songs


“He was always interchanging parts. ‘Cause at one point, he’d say ‘OK. This is “Surf’s Up” or this is “Bicycle Rider” or “Vegetables.”’ And then a night or two later, maybe the first verse and chorus of what had been ‘Bicycle Rider’ was all of the sudden the second verse of something else. It was continually changing at that point…I was always being thrown because I would hear something, and then I’d come back the next night, and he’d be shuffling around [the pieces]”.
– David Anderle (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“…a lot of those titles were at that point really just the tracks without the lyrics put on. That’s way it was so easy to interchange.”
– David Anderle (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“Brian got very much into chanting. Not just Hawaiian chants but chants in general.”
– David Anderle (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)


“I’m doing the final mix on the A-side tonight, but I can’t decide what to do on the other side. The easiest thing would be to pull something off ‘Pet Sounds’, but I feel that that would be cheating the record-buyer. On the other hand, I want to keep as much of ‘Smile’ a surprise as possible. I may end up just recording me and a piano-I tried it last night in the studio. It would be an interesting contrast, anyway.”
-Brian Wilson (quote-Feb 18, 1967) (“Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile” Domenic Priore, editor. 1988)


“In fact, ‘Heroes And Villains’ at the start, was one of the first things we ever did, really early on, even before we recorded ‘Surfin'; We were working on that song way back in '61. We all became instruments for Brian's barber shop concept. He said, ‘Let's all do this, let's sing this idea.’ Carl would be one instrument, I'd be another. Mike would be another instrument. “
-Al Jardine (Goldmine -“A Beach Boy Still Riding The Waves” July 28, 2000)

“’Heroes and Villains’ is similar to ‘Good Vibrations’ in that it has several different sections, but there’s a more driving beat behind it. There’s definetely a strong old Western flavour. Van Dyke Parks collaborated on the lyrics with me.”
-Brian Wilson (“Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile” Domenic Priore, editor. 1988)


“Yeah, the idea, not the song. We started singing a capella first because we didn't play instruments. With none of us really being players, we would just scat in the car going to a show or something or going to school, anywhere. “
-Al Jardine (Goldmine -“A Beach Boy Still Riding The Waves” July 28, 2000)


“My acetate has been buried in my archives and I just don't recall its structure. Perhaps Brian will make it clear to us one day. “
-Bruce Johnston (Bruce Johnston talks about Smile on the Beach Boys Britain message board April 6,2001)

“Yeah, ‘Heroes and Villains’ was a little…ahh…too pleasant for me. It sent me on a whole trip, you know? I was uhh…couldn’t do it, I went on a bummer over it. (laughs) Isn’t that weird? I actually went on like a two month bummer over that record….weird trip, huh?”
-Brian Wilson (BBC Radio 1 "Smile" special 8/13/95)

“I was there for ‘Good Vibrations’ and then ‘Heroes and Villains,’ which was as big if not bigger than ‘Good Vibrations’ in its original form.

I thought it was a fantastic song, a great, rich full sound. It was just a full-sounding record and the voices blended right in…like an extra part of an instrument.

We had our basic unit-an organ, drums, basses, and guitars. Mostly everything we did had the same amount of basic instrumentation.

I think there was a harpsichord in the back of the room and a harp played by Mike’s sister, Maureen.”
-Chuck Britz (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“The version we did originally was just voice holds and no gimmicks…like where they just drop out the orchestra and did an organ thing for a solo…It moved from beginning to end.”
-Chuck Britz (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“There are so many screwed-up people in the music industry. The good guys and the bad guys…That’s one thing Brian had in mind when they did ‘Heroes and Villains.’ There was a part Brian didn’t use. It went, ‘In the cantina…’ I only heard it twice.”
-Marilyn Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“We had the complete song, but they just wanted to use part of it. Brian wanted to change what had been done on the rest of it. I think he wanted instrumentally and vocally to make it more ocmplex. I think he wanted to finish the song, ti was a challenge to him..We went and rerecorded from where we started off the old tape, the rest of the song at the studio in the house. We did the parts and the music tracks and most of the guys played their own instruments…It was done in pieces and the vocals were done to complete the song.”
-Jim Lockhart (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“I do remember a much longer version and buried deep within my archives in the vault is an acetate copy. I don't recall which version of Heroes & Villains I have. I do not intend to make this recording public.”
-Bruce Johnston (Bruce Johnston talks about Smile on the Beach Boys Britain message board April 4, 2001)


“We wanted to do something spiritual with no verbal connotations to it so that people could be influenced by the feeling of it.”
-Mike Love (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“This is a little intro, you know, to the album.”
-Brian Wilson (‘Prayer’ rehearsals)


“The Barnyard Suite, that was going to be four songs-In four short pieces-combined together, but we never finished that one. We got into something else.”
-Brian Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“Yeah, there was quite a bit of lyrics for that song. As it turned out, there wasn’t much that was used from the version I had. The lyrics I worked from had to do with images of people having from an ocean liner, and native Indians behind that.

The lyric went:

‘Once upon the Sandwich Isles,
the social structure steamed upon

Then it was ‘Rock, rock, roll, Plymouth Rock roll over…’ And then there’s a piece called ‘Ribbon of concrete, see what you done done,’ It came from the old standard ‘CC Rider, see what you done done.’ I remember it went on,’See what you done done, to the church of the American Indian…’

And there was a last part on there that went something like:

‘Having returned to the East or
West Indies-we always got them

It had to do with the white man’s advancement.”
-Frank Holmes (Endless Summer Quarterly, March 1997 -Beard & Dempsey, editors)


“These lyrics are out of ‘Cabin Essence’:
‘Reconnected telephone direct
Different color cords to your
Don’t forget to mention
This is a recording.’

And below that, it has:

‘Even though the echoes through
my mind
Have filtered through the pines,
I came and found my peace,
And this is not a recording.’

Then there was:

“Doobie doo,
Doobie doo,
Or not doobie!’”

-Frank Holmes (Endless Summer Quarterly, March 1997 -Beard & Dempsey, editors)

“On ‘Cabin-Essence’, there’s a line in there-‘truck-driving man’ which I sang. I got off so much doing that. It’s mixed way down in the track and it’s syncopated all the way through. Right there is my biggest turn-on.”
-Dennis Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“The song was about railroads…and I wondered what the perspective was of the spike. Those Chinese laborers working on the railroads, like they’d be hitting the thing…but looking away too, and noticing, say, a crow flying overhead…the Oriental mind going off on a different track.”
-Brian Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“There was enough for a whole album. More than enough. There was an awful lot of music. ‘Wind Chimes,’ ‘Cabin-Essense,’ ‘Vega-Tables,’ ‘The Iron Horse’-that one was magnificent: the first trains going across the country…the buffalo…the Indians…there was a selection about Kansas. Sitting in the studio, the kettle drums booming, you could see big black crows sweeping across cornfields.”
-Tim Nolan, “A California Saga”, 1971 (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“”Yeah! And it made me think that was a stupid thing to do-so I stopped! It scared me away!”
– Brian Wilson (“The Nearest Faraway Place” by Timothy White. 1994)

“I walked in [to the studios] and there was a janitor named Brother Julius who lived in a little bungalow in the backyard. Before I walked in, I said, 'Brother Julius, could you start a little fire in the bucket and bring it in the studio?’ Well, he hit the ceiling. He said, ‘What do you want me to do that for?’ I said, ‘I want these guys to smell smoke.’ You see, I was flipping. I wanted to smell smoke. So there were the musicians smelling smoke with fire hats on. They were all firemen. Rooooar, rooar. The violins were screeching up, reaching upward, rolling down…Whoooorrr…”
–Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“I remember it. It was kind of scary. I was afraid of all that so I put it on the shelf. It was just little pieces of nothing. It wasn’t the right kind of music for us. That’s why we threw it away. Let’s not talk about it.”
-Brian Wilson (Open Sky magazine 1999 -Chris Allen, editor)

‘”Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow’ was part of the ‘Fire’ sessions, I think just at Gold Star Recorders. By that time, he had them highly-arranged and all written out. I was amazed at the sounds of the cellos (recording along with us on one particular date there at Gold Star0, how the music Brian wrote made it sound like a fire and then fire engines.”
-Carol Kaye (Open Sky magazine 1999 -Chris Allen, editor)

“We were recording Smile and we came across a tape, a song called ‘Fire’, which I was getting pretty far out by that time. Well, it so happens that a building burned down the same day we were doing that – down the street from the studio that we were doing the ‘Fire’ tapes. I had the musicians wearing fire helmets. I had a guy bring in a bucket with burning wood to smell of smoke in the studio. I mean, I was crazy”
–Brian Wilson (mid ‘70s?) (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“I began to think that we started that fire somehow mystically.”
– Brian Wilson (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“It was sick. I mean, it was sick. Weird chords, it wasn’t the straight eight and all that. I started thinking, Oh God, I’m flipping here. But I liked it.”
–Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“I’m going to call this ‘Mrs. O’Leary’s Fire,’ and I think it might just scare a whole lot of people.”
–Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“We got the news that a place nearby burned down. Well, I thought I started the fire. I thought that for some magical reason what we were doing in the Gold Star [started fires]."
–Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“I don’t have to do a big scary fire like that. I can do a candle and it’s still fire. That would have been a really bad vibration to let out on the world, that Chicago fire. The next one is going to be a candle.”
– Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“Using a variety of techniques ranging from vocal demostration to actually playing the instruments, he taught each musician his part. A gigantic fire howled out of the massive studio speakers in a pounding crash of pictorial music that summoned up visions of roaring, windstorm flames, falling timbers, mournful sirens and sweating firemen, building into a peak and crackling off into fading embers as a single drum turned into a collapsing wall, the fire engine cellos dissolved and disappeared.”
– Jules Siegel for Cheetah Magazine (source and date?)


“That’s just part of ‘The Elements’ that Brian did for Smile. It wasn’t destroyed. We’ve all had intentions of finishing the album, but something persists that keeps that from happening, and I don’t know what that is.”
-Carl Wilson (“Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile” Domenic Priore, editor. 1988)


“Brian sent me out with a tape recorder to tape water sounds-all kinds of water. He wanted to do a thing with natural sounds. He had me go out and get the sounds of sports-basketballs bouncing…Somewhere there are two huge stacks of tape.”
-Mike Vosse (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“Yeah. There was a cut-a piano piece, an instrumental, no vocals-we never finished that.”
-Brian Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“’Old Master Painter’-that was an old, obscure…black gospel sort of thing, sung by an old fellow that came by Brian’s house one night.”
-Mike Love (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“Just a very winsome…melancholy…almost rubato type of rendition, sung by Dennis.”
-Mike Love (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“(laughs) …ahh…I don’t know what its about…maybe its about nothing…you know you go some places and people think a lot and they have thousands of thoughts a day. Other places you go, they may have one particular thought in mind all day. And I think that those…maybe ‘Wonderful’ was one of those songs. It was an effort to say nothing. You know, I think a lot of Brian’s character is in the simplicity and the economy of his music…that he does a very good job for example in an antiphonal way, and their mixes show that, in spite of the fact that he only can hear in one ear.”
-Van Dyke Parks (BBC Radio 1 "Smile" special 8/13/95)


“And another thing that interest me…who was it, Karl Menninger, who said, ‘The child is father of the man’? That fascinates me! Anyway, that’s another song, Father of the Man.”
-Brian Wilson (“Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile” Domenic Priore, editor. 1988)


“We went shopping one day and we brought home some wind chimes. We hung them outside the house and then one day, while Brian was sitting around he sort of watched them out the window and then he wrote the song. I think that’s how it happened. Simple. He does a lot of things that way.”
-Marilyn Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“It is another night at Goldstar. A group of older musicians whom Brian has never met are there to perform on French horns. Five minutes after producer meets players, the men are creating laughing effects and having conversations with their horns.
It was just an idea I had and I’m glad to see it works.
‘How does he do it?’ somebody in the hallway asks.”
-Brian with Mike Vosse in Teen Set (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)


“It’s a man at a concert. All around him there’s the audience, playing their roles, dressed up in fancy clothes…The music begins to take over. ‘Columnated ruins domino.’ Empires, ideas, lives, institutions-everything has to fall, tumbling like dominoes…’Canvas the town and brush the backdrop.’ He’s off in his vision, on a trip. Reality is gone…’A choke of grief.’ At his own sorry and the emptiness of his life, because he can’t even cry for the suffering in the world, for his own suffering. And then, hop. ‘Surf’s Up!”
–Brian Wilson (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“’Surf’s Up’? Ahh…atrocious! I’m embarrassed…totally embarrassed. That was a piece of…shit. Vocally it was a piece of shit. I was the wrong singer for it in the first place. And in the second place I don’t know why I would ever let a record go out like that.”
-Brian Wilson (BBC Radio 1 "Smile" special 8/13/95)

“There is a new song, too complex to get all of it the first time around. It could come only out of the ferment that characterizes today’s pop music scene…poetic, beautiful even in its obscurity, ‘Surf’s Up’ is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young msuicians see in our future.”
–Leonard Bernstein (“Heroes And Villains” by Steven Gaines. 1986)

“’Surf’s Up’ was the first song that Brian and I wrote for the Smile album.”
– Van Dyke Parks (THE BEACH BOYS-AN AMERICAN BAND - video)

“’Surf’s Up’-Van Dyke and I really thought we had something special done when we finished that.”
-Brian Wilson (“The Beach Boys” by Byron Preiss. 1979)

“That’s a real expose of my soul. I feel a little embarrassed when I hear it sometimes because it’s so naked and so real about how I reallyl felt. So I was a little embarrassed about it, but once I got over that I was okay.”
-Brian Wilson (Open Sky magazine 1999 -Chris Allen, editor)

“It might have been like a goodbye to a certain part of himself. That was a (sigh)…what a song”
- Diane Rovell (A&E BIO BRIAN WILSON- aired 6-20-99

SURF’S UP 1971:

“I remember thinking, ‘Well, if I voice this chord into Brian’s part from the end of Carl’s part, it’ll sound okay and no one will know about it.’ We ended up doing vocals to sort of emulate ourselves without Brian Wilson, which was kidn of silly.”
-Bruce Johnston (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

“… we had to reconstruct Surf's Up because we couldn't get Brian to finish it. So Carl ended up singing half of it and we kept Brian's original verses. And I think Carl sang the middle parts. It was like reconstructing the Smile album in a way.”
-Al Jardine (Goldmine -“A Beach Boy Still Riding The Waves” July 28, 2000)


“In ‘Cool, Cool Water’ there’s a chant I wish we hadn’t used. It fits all right, but there’s just something I don’t quite think is right in it.”
–Brian Wilson (“The Beach Boys & The Southern California Myth” by David Leaf. 1979)

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