General Poetry posted September 17, 2023

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Surf's Up

The Beach Boys

by Debbie D'Arcy

Their rocking sounds still freely ooze
that sun-soaked, surfing State.
Their "Good Vibrations" pound, infuse
the magic they made great.
Three brothers, cousin and a friend
would start their garage band.
Reflecting teenage dreams, they'd blend
surf, romance, sea and sand.
The sunlit sixties saw their first
with "Surfing USA."
Then "Fun, Fun, Fun" would quench fans' thirst -
This group was on its way!
And "California Girls" would seem
to yearn to "Dance, Dance, Dance"
and "Cuddle Up," to live the dream -
'twas time to take that chance.
The mood was love but "Wendy" guessed
a threat was on parade -
with Beatle madness and unrest
"The Warmth of Sun" would fade.
For other shifts would turn life grey,
add sadness to their song;
of Vietnam and JFK,
"This Whole World" seemed quite wrong.
But these boys wouldn't stay down long -
"Surf's up!" let's "Catch a Wave!"
Those "Disney Girls" would keep  them strong -
life's "Wonderful!" they'd rave.
Then fame and drugs would stem their flow:
their star* would sadly part
and two would pass, their deaths a blow;
the band would lose its heart.
And through their grief "God Only Knows."
their majesty still shone.
They'd mark the end of tours and shows
with farewell "Summer's Gone."
In six decades they reached the height
of stardom's quest, it seems:
"Don't Worry Baby" they'd delight -
 "A Time to Live in Dreams."



With thanks to Google Free Pics for image of "Little Deuce Coupe" (1963).

Stanza 1 & 2 - "Good Vibrations" (1966)
Formed and performing in the late 50s in California as The Pendletons. Under their new name of The Beach Boys (chosen by their label in response to the wave of popularity of the surfing sport and its accompanying lifestyle), they had their first 'national' hit "Surfing USA" in 1963. "Fun, Fun, Fun" would follow in 1964. Their original line-up was - brothers: Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson; their cousin, Mike Love and friend, Al Jardine. The brothers were raised in a rough and abusive household in which their mother was alcoholic and their father physically assaulted the children, allegedly contributing to Brian's loss of hearing in one ear. It was, nevertheless, a musical family background and the brothers would learn their impressive harmonies in that incongruously disharmonious environment.

Stanza 3 & 4 - "California Girls" (1965); "Cuddle Up" (1972)

Stanza 5 & 6 - "Wendy" (1964); "This Whole World" (1969). This period of the sixties saw the British Invasion of The Beatles. *Brian Wilson, the primary creative force of The Beach Boys, was particularly concerned by his perception that The Beatles were eclipsing all popular music at the time. In addition, there were events that cast a shadow over the USA such as Vietnam and Kennedy's assassination. Brian, who was by then plagued by alcohol, drugs and mental disturbance, wrote the very sad "The Warmth of the Sun" (in response to JFK's death).

Stanza 7 & 8 - After one of their tours, Brian's mental health severely deteriorated and the group would be obliged to carry on without him (though he still made occasional appearances and continued writing and producing) relying more on nostalgia from their early works to carry them through live shows. "Surf's Up" (1966), "Catch a Wave" (1963), "Disney Girls" (1957 & 1971), "Wonderful" (1967).
Dennis drowned in a swimming pool in 1983; Carl died from lung cancer in 1998.

Stanza 9 &10 - "God Only Knows" (1966); "Summer's Gone" (2012) - final Beach Boys album; "Don't Worry Baby" (1966); "A Time to Live in Dreams" (1968)

One of the most influential acts of the rock era. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them no 12 on the magazine's list of "100 Greatest Artists of all Time."

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