The Beach Boys Pet Sounds

A Song for each Beach Boy

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been covering The Beach Boys’ solo careers – albeit only two of them. Brian Wilson’s solo albums of new material, starting with 1988’s self-titled record, show flashes of brilliance, although they often suffer from unflattering production jobs. His most vital solo release is his 2004 version of Smile, although it’s also rendered a little unnecessary by the 2011 archival release of The Beach Boys’ original sessions.

The other Beach Boy with a strong solo career is drummer Dennis Wilson, whose 1977 Pacific Ocean Blue is included on 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. While he was the least impressive vocalist in The Beach Boys, he was a talented songwriter, able to convey emotion in his grizzled voice.

While compiling a page, it occurred to me that there’s a song about each of The Beach Boys. It’s perhaps the first list ever made to feature The Fall and Barry Manilow in close proximity.

Brian Wilson

John Cale, of The Velvet Underground, was a fan of The Beach Boys, and penned a tribute to Wilson on his 1975 solo album Slow Dazzle.

Al Jardine

The Beach Boys’ rhythm guitarist, and lead singer on ‘Sloop John B’ was the hardest to find a song for, so I resorted to this mention of all five group members.

I love my Carl
I love my Brian my Dennis and my Al
I could even find it in my heart to love Mike Love

From ‘I Love My Car’, by Belle and Sebastian

Mike Love

Lead singer Mike Love is easily the most polarising figure in The Beach Boys. The late Mark E Smith spouted his bile at many different targets; on ‘Mike’s Love Xexagon’ he refers to Love as “the worm in the bacon of BBs.”

Carl Wilson

The Beach Boys’ lead guitarist and most beautiful voice – that’s him on ‘God Only Knows’ – passed away in 1998, and Brian’s solo album Imagination features a song dedicated to his late brother. While the album’s patchy, ‘Lay Down Burden’ is heartfelt and gorgeous.

Dennis Wilson

The Beach Boys’ drummer had a string of romances and marriages – at the time of his drowning he was married to Mike Love’s daughter. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was in a relationship with Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, and the Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham wrote this multi-part suite about him.

Bruce Johnston

Johnston wasn’t an original member of The Beach Boys, but joined the band in 1965 to cover Brian’s parts live. He contributed to the band’s records until he left in 1972, and he’s been a member of the band since rejoining in 1978. While on hiatus from the band, he wrote this Grammy song of the year winner for Barry Manilow – so it’s in fact Bruce Johnston who writes the songs.

Am I missing any notable songs about The Beach Boys?


  1. Way back when I was listening to the Cale song I had no idea it was related. That’s how much i knew about the BB’s. Later as I got a little more aware it’s obvious. I just really like the tune and the vibe.
    How about The Barenaked Ladies cut? I also liked the vibe on that one. Good Canadian guys. There’s another in my head that I can’t recall. It will come to me.

    • I think Harold Wilson was prime minister of the UK around that time too. It’s a good song, kind of Cale adding some Beach Boys flavour to his mid 1970s sound.

      I don’t know the Barenaked Ladies at all.

      • I always liked Cales off the mainstream. Yeah that was a while ago when I first started listening to him. I don’t think I’ve come across anyone other than you and hotfox who gives John some ink. His Heartbreak Hotel is a spin I like.
        I thought I was being to to obvious about the Wilson thing. Check out ‘Brian Wilson’ by the BL’s, I think it will be up your alley. Good band from Canada. I think it was bit of a hit but I’m the wrong guy to know.

  2. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly recommend checking out the Tears for Fears’ song “Brian Wilson Said” off their 1993 album Elemental. It is chillingly beautiful.

  3. Years late to the party, but I agree with the comment above that the barenaked ladies song is excellent. Generally speaking, they aren’t my cup of tea. They can be too zany. But it’s also probably because of overexposure. I had to hear those songs on the radio and TV over and over again as a kid. But “Brian Wilson” is lovely. Interesting, playful lyrics, even a reference to Pavlov’s dog (“It’s a matter of instinct, a matter of conditioning,/A matter of fact/Ring a bell and I’ll salivate/How’d you like that?”) Especially impressive when you consider how young the songwriter was when he wrote it (20? Something like that). They also did a beautiful, understated cover of Burton Cummings’ “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” which is also worth checking out (theirs or Cockburn’s version, both are good).

Leave a Reply


Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Default image
Aphoristical View Profile
Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections: