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Beach Boys: A California Saga, Part II

Page 6 of 6

"And I said, 'You know, Brian, one thing God gives you is a brain, if you play with it and destroy it, you're dead, you're a vegetable.' And we haven't heard the rest of this, there are going to be a lot of people killed and people in sanitariums, insane asylums, because they played, you know, they played with God.

"If you want to print it, I would be happy to have you do it. These guys that have to be freaked out on marijuana and other things on stage to become artists, should never have the privilege of stepping onto a stage to play for young impressionable people."

Murry paused briefly to light his pipe and muse over the proud feats of his first son. It was true, Brian, with the help of his father's strict family training, had resisted the temptations of success – pressures of performing, the phoniness, the dope, the tight pants – to devote his life to music.

"Pet Sounds is a masterpiece of accomplishment for Brian," said Murry. "The public doesn't realize it, most of them. But Brian took the masters, a lot of the masters, approached the music in his own way and put a rock and roll beat to it. He even got Stephen Foster in there – phrases that we used to sing when he was a baby, you know? And it's twisted around with his beautiful approach to rock and roll, and his bass root; his bass root figurations of the bass guitar is fantastic!

"Pet Sounds has been copied, chewed up, renewed – Negro artists have used it in band arrangements, commercials have used it. Every day you hear a commercial that has a Beach Boys sound in back of it.

"Every ten years or so there comes an arranger or musical brain that does this. Like Mancini did it for eight years, right? Now Bacharach is having his heyday. Very brilliant young man, Bacharach.

"Mancini is a God-given talent. And so is Brian Wilson."

This story is from the November 11th, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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