Genius works in mysterious ways. Along with unforgettable classics like Good Vibrations, In My Room and Surfer Girl, Brian Wilson also penned plenty of numbers that are memorably odd. Here are a dozen or so, compiled back in 2011 as a sidebar to my first Wilson interview:
County Fair (1962)
The first Beach Boys album was laced with novelty numbers — like this one that set step-right-up carnival-barker vocals against their surfin’ sounds.
The boys sing the praises of root beer. Hey, it was the ’60s.
Salt Lake City (1965)
“It’s got the grooviest kids,” the Boys claim. Yet the makers of Big Love went with God Only Knows as a theme song. Go figure.
I’m Bugged at My Old Man (1965)
Brian sings the blues at his piano after Dad grounds him, sells his surfboard and cuts off his hair in his sleep — all for coming in late. Thankfullly, this pales in comparison to what the Wilsons actually went through.
She’s Goin’ Bald (1967)
Aaaaaand the drugs kick in: From the Smiley Smile sessions comes this trippy tale of a gal who really flips her wig!
Paul McCartney allegedly chomps celery while the group urges fans to name their favourite veggie. Wilson recut it when he finally completed Smile in 2004. You might think this inspired Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention’s sardonic Call Any Vegetable, but Wilson’s song came out several months later, so who knows?
A Day in the Life of a Tree (1971)
The green theme continues as Brian laments the death of a tree over a suitably funereal organ.
Mt. Vernon & Fairway: A Fairy Tale (1973)
Brian turns his childhood (the title is his old address) into a lengthy multi-song fable about a young prince, a pied piper and a magic, floating radio.
TM Song (1976)
A 98-second ditty about the simple joys of transcendental meditation. Guess Brian couldn’t concentrate long enough to write more.
Johnny Carson (1977)
“He sits behind his microphone / he speaks in such a manly tone.” This is what happens when songwriters sit around the house all day and night taking drugs and watching TV.
Solar System (1977)
Brian takes a round trip through the planets. “If Mars had life on it, I might find my wife on it.” Um, OK. Thankfully, there’s no mention of Uranus.
I Wanna Pick You Up (1977)
It’s either a sweet ode from a father to his daughter — or the creepiest serial killer song ever.