Friday, April 6, 2018

Story Goes... Brian Wilson on Rubber Soul

It must have been in November of 1965. I was living in this house in the Hollywood Hills then, way up on Laurel Way, and I remember sitting in the living room one night talking with some friends when another friend came in with a copy of the Beatles' new one, Rubber Soul, I don't know if it had even come out yet. But he had it and so we put it on the record player and, wow. As soon as I started hearing it I loved it. I mean, LOVED it!

I still remember hearing "Michelle" for the first time, and "Girl." What an incredible song! Everything about the way John Lennon sang, and the lyrics he was writing. "Oh, girl, girl." It sounded amazing. 

"Norwegian Wood" is my favorite, too. The lyrics are so good, and so creative, right from the first line: "I once had a girl/ Or should I say, she once had me." It's so mysterious. Is he into her, or she into him? It just blew my mind. And in the end, when he wakes up and she's gone, so he lights a fire. "Isn't it good? Norwegian wood." Is he setting her house on fire? I didn't know. I still don’t know. I thought that was fantastic. I can't forget the sitar, too, I'd never heard that before, that unbelievable sound. No one had heard that in rock’n’roll back then, this amazing, exotic sound. It really did inspire the instrumentation I ended up using for Pet Sounds. 

So many other songs are on there, too. "You Won’t See Me" is like a cheerful pop song, and "Think for Yourself" is kind of dark. I'd forgotten that was George’s song. He really wrote that? Well, I know it has that cool fuzzy bass sound. I'd used that already on "Little Honda," so it was more familiar to me. But then came "The Word," and that was something else, too. A song about love, but not just about girls and boys. 
Then there's "In My Life," that's another John song. And that's my favorite song on the record too, except for "Norwegian Wood." I loved the sound of John's voice. I'd never heard a collection of songs that were all that good before. It's like a collection of folk songs, and they're all just really, really great songs. And not just about love. They're about a lot of different things, but they all go together, somehow. 

Listening to Rubber Soul didn't clarify my ideas for Pet Sounds, exactly. But it inspired me. When we were listening to it that night I said to myself, "Now I’m gonna make an album just as good as Rubber Soul." Not the same album. Obviously there can only be one album that's Rubber Soul, just like there can only be one Pet Sounds. But it inspired me to do my own thing, and so the next morning I went to the piano and wrote "God Only Knows" with Tony Asher. 

And it's still my favorite Beatles album. That and Let It Be. Obviously, they're very different records. But the Beatles changed musically, and got better over the years. So did I."