Happy Birthday, Janga! Wishing you sunshine, smiles, and happily ever afters today and always.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hitting the Right Note

We all have them; that band that defines our generation musically.  The songs that take us straight back to a specific time and place in our youth.  You know what I'm taking about.  The songs you know all the words to and sing at full volume when they play on the car radio - to the everlasting embarrassment of your children?  Yes!  Those songs!

This morning, CBS Sunday Morning aired a segment on the Beach Boys and, with every tune they played, I was transported to my pre-teen and teen years.  They were happy years in my life; safe, secure, innocent and filled with the joy and excitement of a young girl coming of age to the music of an endless summer.  Beach movies were all the rage and my girlfriends and I all dreamed of being Annette (Funicello),  Shelley Fabares or Sandra Dee with our own surfer guy who adored us.

There was no cable television back then, no VCRs or movie rental businesses.   Beach movies were seen at the theater (indoor in the winter - drive in theater in the summer) but the memories of those golden days of sun and sand were kept alive through the records that we played year-round.  Growing up in a small town in the very cold state of Michigan, the Beach Boys were my musical escape.  All I had to do was play "Surfer Girl" or "Good Vibrations" or "I Get Around" or "Surfin' USA" and I was on a beach in Southern California, dancing around a bonfire with Annette and Frankie or catching a wave with Moondoggie.

"Surfer Girl" was one of the first records I ever bought with my own money and is one of my top three favorite Beach Boys tunes.  That 45 (for you youngins', that's a small vinyl disc that we played on something called a record player - grin) is still a treasured possession though these days I get my Beach Boys fix from CDs and tunes I've downloaded from itunes.  Every year when we emerge from the doldrums of a cold winter, it's the songs of the Beach Boys that welcome me to another summer.  I'm the crazy lady at the wheel of the car next to you, belting out the lyrics of "Fun, Fun, Fun", "Surfin' Safari", "Little Deuce Coupe"  or the iconic "California Girls" as I celebrate hot days, balmy nights and the memories of all the wonderful summers of my life.

A few facts about the Beach Boys:  They signed with Capitol Records in 1962, had 36 Top 40 records, have sold over 100 million albums world-wide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.  This year, the Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary.  Does it pain me to admit that I've been listening to them for fifty years? Yeah, it does.  A bit.  But, on the other hand, that's a fifty year soundtrack of my life that I can't imagine not having.  So many snapshots of my life are accompanied by a Beach Boys song.  How could I possibly wish that away?


It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood as I write this.  It's not technically summer here yet but the sun is shining brightly, we're supposed to hit 89 F and the surf's up somewhere in the world.  So, with a nod to my creaky knees and sore back I'm going to queue up the Beach Boys Greatest Hits album, crank up the volume, slather on the sunscreen, retreat to the back deck and let the music of Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine fill my soul with joy.  And if the neighbors notice me dancing around the deck and singing at the top of my lungs?  Well, maybe they'll join in!

What band defines the music of your generation?  Are you a Beach Boys fan?  What's your favorite Beach Boys song?  Do you, like me, roll down the car windows and treat all the neighboring drivers to impromptu concerts? Let's talk music!


~PJ

38 comments:

  1. Lovely post PJ! :)
    Am definitely a Beach Boys fan. My favorite Beach Boys song has to be Kokomo! "Aruba, Jamaica,oohh I wanna take ya" To me, that is the ultimate fun summer beach song. There is also the lovely "God Only Knows" that plays at the end of one of my favorite movies, Love Actually! Such a sweet song.

    And no, I don't turn down the windows and belt out radio tunes. It's for the good of mankind. ;)
    I would have to say that since I grew up during the boy band era of the 90s and early 2000s, I'm going to venture that perhaps Backstreet Boys and N'Sync defined the music of my generation? And maybe Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. I remember in middle and high school, what band you were a fan of was THE question, and almost crucial in forming your indentity. ;) lol.

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    1. "My favorite Beach Boys song has to be Kokomo!"

      Love that song, Lisa! I drove through Kokomo, Indiana yesterday and that song was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the city limits sign. :)

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  2. PJ, what a fun post. Love the illustrations - isn't that poster classic? I love the Beach Boys (love the Beatles too!). God Only Knows is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, IMHO. Actually my salad days were definitely the 80s. Give me an 80s synthesizer band and I'm yours, baby! Shoulder pads and all. Cyndi Lauper and Depeche Mode and the Cure and OMD and New Order and Spandau Ballet. Definitely had a British yen then. Hmm, what's changed?

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    1. I love the Beatles, Anna! I was 13 when they hit America so I grew up with them too and, of course, had a huge crush on Paul McCartney!

      I was a married lady in the 80s, climbing the corporate ladder and discovering country music. Sometimes I feel like I missed the entire decade, music-wise. ;-)

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    2. Forgot to say...I agree with you on "God Only Knows." Beautiful song and one of my favorites!

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    3. Anna, you name several of my favorite bands during the 80s

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  3. I'm with you on this one, PJ! Since our growing up years parallel each other so closely, I remember growing up with exactly the same influences. I cannot believe it has already been 50 years. BTW, Lovely blog today; what were you reading back in the day?

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    1. It was a great time to grow up, wasn't it, Flora? Fifty years ago, I was ten years old and head over heels in love with Nancy Drew but I was also reading Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling and the like. Romance, via Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart, was about three years away.

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  4. Favorite Beach Boy song: Help Me Rhonda and the first song I had of theirs was: I Get Around.

    I liked their music but I wasn't a huge follower. I prefered The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Cream, Steve Winwood, Jethro Tull, Derek and the Dominoes( Eric Clapton) and The Moody Blues.

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    1. It is physically impossible for me to stay still when I hear "I Get Around." I have to move and I have to sing! lol!

      Cat Stevens' music brings back some wonderful college memories. Ditto The Moody Blues. I still have my original vinyl Days of Future Passed album. "Nights in White Satin" is one of my all time favorite songs.

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  5. Awesome Blog, PJ. My music was probably more late 70's early 80's. Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, early U2 and of course The Bee Gees. Yes, I was a disco fan!

    I was also one of the youngest of 7 children and my older brothers and sisters influenced a lot of my musical tastes. My oldest brother was a Beach Boys fanatic. I listened to his albums all the time. I remember playing Endless Summer endlessly :) For my birthday in the mid-late 70's (I can't really remember exactly) I asked for Spirit of America for my birthday and he got it for me. I loved (love) the Beach Boys!

    My favorite song by them would have to be Don't Worry Baby.

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    1. What a great brother you have and what wonderful memories!

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  6. Terrific blog, PJ! I love the Beach Boys, too. I grew up listening to them thanks to my parents. They actually saw them in concert last year and had a GREAT time! :)

    I grew up in the 80s, so I won't repeat the bands/artists Anna listed, but will add Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Madonna, and Def Leppard. Those were wild and crazy times!

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    1. Forgot to add that my favotite songs by them are "Fun, Fun, Fun", "God Only Knows", and the classic "Surfin' USA".

      And yes! I roll down my windows and sing like there's no tomorrow!

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    2. Andrea, we'll have to have a Beach Boys song fest sometime. Maybe M&M? ;-)

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    3. Woohoo! Sounds like a plan! :)

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    4. Yes to all those bands Andrea.

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  7. You are also so totally right about putting on The Beach Boys to welcome in the summer and say goodbye to winter. Growing up in the Chicagoland area we had some nasty winters. I always dreamed of living in sunny California and every spring, without fail, the local radio stations cranked The Beach Boys to let us know summer was on its way!

    I did finally make my way to Southern California in 1991 and lived there for about a year. My then boyfriend, current DH, surfed and drove a motorcycle - it was definitely a fun year!

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    1. Irish, I grew up on the Michigan side of the lake listening to WLS and WCFL out of Chicago. Lots of great Beach Boys music on our transistor radios come summer! :)

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  8. Yesterday, Hubby and I were listening to the radio and my favorite Beach Boys song came on--God Only Knows. The harmony at the end of that song is so wonderful. Nice column; thanks.

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    1. That is such a great song. One of my Beach Boys favorites!

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  9. Beach Boys fan indeed, love The Monkees too even though no comparison to Brian Wilson and his group!
    My favorite music growing up was country, the old Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ray Stevens, Charilie Pride songs because that is what my parents liked. When I discovered soft rock as a teen, never looked back!

    California Girls is one of my Beach Boy favorites, sand sun surf and all that summer holds dear. Of course being a girl not really into the theme of the song with wanting to hook up with the girls but just love the tune and the mood of the song.

    Jackie B Central Texas

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  10. What a great post, PJ! The music of the Beach Boys takes me back too--to barefoot summers, dancing by the swimming pool, flirting with a certain lifeguard, and oiling pale winter limbs to hasten the tan. Who knew about sun block then? And, yes, I confess to rolling down the windows and singing loudly and enthusiastically, if not well, when the radio or the playlist hits "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," or "Barbara Ann." Alas, I only dance to those songs these days in my memories and in my dreams.

    The Forest Gump soundtrack is one of my favorites ever because it encompasses so many musical memories from early days with Elvis to the Beach Boys and Dylan and Creedence through Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It makes me young again.

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  11. Of course, I'm a Beach Boys fan! My summers spent on the beach soaking up rays and listening to the cool tunes. Ah yes! Those were the days!!

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  12. Oh! I forgot to tell you my favorite Beach Boys song.

    Being an (all but the first six months of my life) "California Girl" I'll leave the rest to you, PJ!

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  13. Fabulous post PJ. LOVE IT!!!!!

    I'm an 80s chick all the way. So many wonderful bands and such memorable songs. My teen years wee spent going to concerts. Tina Turner and Madonna are among my favorite shows.

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  14. Count me in as another Beach Boy fan. I grew up in the 50's and 60's, so also grew up with the Beatles, who were also a favorite group. My favorite Beach Boy songs were Red Rubber Ball and Surfer Girl. I remember the Beatles and their I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Long, long time ago, but I treasure those years.

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  15. Love the Beach Boys! I saw them a million years ago (okay when I was a freshman in high school) in D.C.. They were playing on the Mall. It was so much fun. Great memories. :-)

    Of course, 80's music defines my high school and college years, so it has a special place in my heart. Really it's the best decade for music. Even my kids love it! lol

    Wow, as far as concerts go, some of my faves: Tina Turner (the woman is AMAZING!), Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Ray Charles, but hands down, Luther Vandross was THE BEST. The man was a showman to the tips of his toes.

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  16. Love the Beach Boys and always have. I am a early 70's gal myself and that is what I listen to today. I don't care for todays music, think it sucks. Give me 70's music and yes with the car windows down and I am good to go.

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  17. I love the BEACH BOYS. This is music that will live on.

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  18. I was a junior in high school in 1962 and sang loudly to the Beach Boy songs. Ouch, it does make one feel old. I love music and never really had a favorite band. Loved the Beatles, Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Simon & Garfunkle, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the list goes on. I still have many of their records and have gotten CD's as they came out. There are many newer artists that I like - Sting and Queen for example - but I will have to admit many of the newer groups have lost me. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I'll have to dig out my Beach Boy CD set.

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    1. Lots of favorites in that list and some wonderful memories too!

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  19. I just checked your auction item and it is doing well, $125 already. I am glad things are doing so well so early. Of course it means I am being out bid on everything, but that is OK. It is for a good cause.

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    1. Thanks for letting us know. It's up to $140 now! Love when we can help raise money for a good cause!

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  20. Thanks for sharing your musical memories yesterday! I'm out of town for a family funeral and wasn't able to respond to everyone but I read them all. You brought back some great memories! :)

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  21. Love the Beach Boys. When I was about 10 years old I saw them in concert. Not all the original members. This was back in the 80's. Love all their sons, but California Girls is my fav. With Surfer Girl being my next fav.

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  22. I'm a child of the 50's graduating from HS in 1961 so the BB's hit shortly after I left school...but I loved their music all the same. I'm a huge fan of oldies Rock and Roll mainly from the 50's and early 60's and country onward from the 50's. Nothing like the Beach Boys to make you want to dance around the room!

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