Monday, April 8th, 2024

The Beatles song that left Brian Wilson in tears: “I’ve never heard anything like this in my life”

In the 1960s, practically every rock band wanted to be The Beatles, or at the very least, sought to knock them off their lofty perch. In the UK, The Rolling Stones caught up with their Liverpudlian rivals as a rival hit-making machine but always maintained a degree of respect, given that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and the gang knocked down the first barriers for the British Invasion. The Beatles also gave the Stones one of their early hits with ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, lest we forget.

Across the Atlantic, Beatlemania reached a similar pitch following the band’s televisual debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. All the same, many Americans didn’t take too kindly to these British folk beating them at their own game. With talent at the ready and the marketing machine well-oiled, a highly fruitful transatlantic chart race ensued throughout the mid-1960s.

The frontrunners in this friendly race were The Beatles and California’s surf-rock stars The Beach Boys. Of course, The Monkees had a nibble, too, but as an engineered response to The Beatles for a television programme, it would be difficult to take them seriously enough for this particular contest.

Brian Wilson, the principal composer for The Beach Boys, made his most significant discographic dent in 1966 with Pet Sounds. The album was a true tour de force, blending contemporary pop trends with a psychedelic nuance and groundbreaking contrapuntal harmonies. The album seemed to light a candle beneath The Beatles’ feet, energising their imminent Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sessions.