Sunday, August 28, 2016

"California Girls" by The Beach Boys

It was today in 1965 that The Beach Boys' song "California Girls" peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite not having reached no. 1, it remains one of their most iconic songs. In fact, aside from "Good Vibrations", it seems possible that it is the song with which the band is identified the most.

Although "California Girls" sounds like an innocent ode to, well, girls, Brian Wilson has said that he conceived song when he first took LSD. Initially his trip was not a good one. He was in his apartment in his bed with a pillow over his head, and his mind was filled with fear. Fortunately he was eventually able to pull himself together. He thought about writing a song about girls. The song's opening chords came to him when he began thinking about "music from cowboy movies".  He took inspiration for the melody from Johann Sebastian Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".  The next day Mike Love visited him and together they finished the song. That having been said, for many years Brian Wilson was credited as the song's only writer. That changed in the Nineties after Mike Love sued Brian Wilson for 35 songs which he had co-written, but never received credit. Since then Mike Love has received a songwriting credit on "California Girls", as well as several other Beach Boys songs originally credited only to Brian Wilson.

"California Girls" was recorded from April 6 to June 4 1965 at United Western Recorders and CBS Columbia Square, both in Hollywood. It was released on July 12 1965. Today it must seem odd that a song as iconic as "California Girls" peaked at only no. 3, but then it was kept from the no. 1 spot by two other iconic songs. For the Billboard Hot 100 chart of August 28 1965, "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher was at no. 1, its last week in the top spot. At no. 2 was The Beatles' song "Help!", which would become the new no. 1 song the following week. That following week another iconic song, "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan, would take over the no. 2 spot. With such stiff competition, "California Girls" really didn't have much of a chance at hitting no. 1. That having been said, "California Girls" ultimately spent 11 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, most of it in the top forty and much of it in the top ten. It has since become one of The Beach Boys' most famous songs.

And now, without further ado, here is "California Girls" by The Beach Boys.

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