Artist: The Beach Boys
Song/Album: Till I Die / Surf’s Up
Writer(s): Brian Wilson
Year Released: 1971
Genre/Sub Genre: Pop/Dark Pop
Per a press release for the Surfs Up album, Brian Wilson stated about ‘Til I Die:
“Lately, I’d been depressed and preoccupied with death… Looking out toward the ocean, my mind, as it did almost every hour of every day, worked to explain the inconsistencies that dominated my life; the pain, torment, and confusion and the beautiful music I was able to make. Was there an answer? Did I have no control? Had I ever? Feeling shipwrecked on an existential island, I lost myself in the balance of darkness that stretched beyond the breaking waves to the other side of the earth. The ocean was so incredibly vast, the universe was so large, and suddenly I saw myself in proportion to that, a little pebble of sand, a jellyfish floating on top of the water; traveling with the current I felt dwarfed, temporary. The next day I began writing “‘Til I Die”, perhaps the most personal song I ever wrote for The Beach Boys… In doing so, I wanted to re-create the swell of emotions that I’d felt at the beach the previous night.”
‘Til I Die was originally intended for inclusion on the 1969 album, 20/20, but Brian shelved the song after it was met with negative reaction by an unnamed member within the band (Mike Love?). It was months later that he decided to “re-tackle” the song, eventually showing up on the 1971 Beach Boys album, Surf’s Up.
Take Note Of This:
The amazing multi-layered vocal harmony and evocative nature of the song.
Why it’s a “Penn’s Pick”:
Brian Wilson, was, and still is, THE master of melody, harmony and creating evocative sonic landscapes. ‘Til I Die was one of the last great compositions from Brian’s “golden period,” and fully embodies all the qualities that made him one of the top songwriters in the history of popular music. The multi-layered vocal harmonies coupled with the instrumentation, melody and imagery filled lyrics fully envelop you in this ultra-evocative song from the get-go, instantly transporting you to another time and place. It’s hauntingly dark and beautiful, like only Brian Wilson can deliver.