Episode one hundred and forty-six of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
looks at “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, and the history of the theremin. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators
. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust
and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources
There is no Mixcloud this week, because there were too many Beach Boys songs in the episode. I used many resources for this episode, most of which will be used in future Beach Boys episodes too. It’s difficult to enumerate everything here, because I have been an active member of the Beach Boys fan community for twenty-four years, and have at times just used my accumulated knowledge for this. But the resources I list here are ones I’ve checked for specific things. Stephen McParland has published many, many books on the California surf and hot-rod music scenes, including several on both the Beach Boys and Gary Usher. His books can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks
Andrew Doe’s Bellagio 10452
site is an invaluable resource. Jon Stebbins’ The Beach Boys FAQ
is a good balance between accuracy and readability. And Philip Lambert’s Inside the Music of Brian Wilson
is an excellent, though sadly out of print, musicological analysis of Wilson’s music from 1962 through 67. I have also referred to Brian Wilson’s autobiography, I Am Brian Wilson
, and to Mike Love’s, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy.
As a good starting point for the Beach Boys’ music in general, I would recommend this budget-priced three-CD set
, which has a surprisingly good selection of their material on it, including the single version of "Good Vibrations". Oddly, the single version of "Good Vibrations" is not
on the The Smile Sessions
box set. But an entire CD of outtakes of the track is, and that was the source for the session excerpts here. Information on Lev Termen comes from Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage
by Albert Glinsky Transcript
In ancient Greece, the god Hermes was a god of many things, as all the Greek gods were. Among those things, he was the god of diplomacy, he was a trickster god, a god of thieves, and he was a messenger god, who conveyed messages between realms. He was also a god of secret knowledge. In short, he was the kind of god who would have made a perfect spy. But he was also an inventor. In particular he was credited in Greek myth as having invented the lyre, an instrument somewhat similar to a guitar, harp, or zither, and as having used it to create beautiful sounds. But while Hermes the trickster god invented the lyre, in Greek myth it was a mortal man, Orpheus, who raised the instrument to perfection. Orpheus was a legendary figure, the greatest poet and musician of pre-Homeric Greece, and all sorts of things were attributed to him, some of which might even have been things that a real man of that name once did. He is credited with the "Orphic tripod" -- the classification of the elements into earth, water, and fire -- and with a collection of poems called the Rhapsodiae. The word Rhapsodiae comes from the Greek words rhaptein, meaning to stitch or sew, and ōidē, meaning song -- the word from which we get our word "ode", and originally a rhapsōdos was someone who "stitched songs together" -- a reciter of long epic poems composed of several shorter pieces that the rhapsōdos would weave into one continuous piece. It's from that that we get the English word "rhapsody", which in the sixteenth century, when it was introduced into the language, meant a literary work that was a disjointed collection of patchwork bits, stitched together without much thought as to structure, but which now means a piece of music in one movement, but which has several distinct sections. Those sections may seem unrelated, and the piece may have an improvisatory feel, but a closer look will usually reveal relationships between the sections, and the piece as a whole will have a sense of unity. When Orpheus' love, Eurydice, died, he went down into Hades, the underworld where the souls of the dead lived, and played music so beautiful, ...