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Good Vibrations

You’d have to be a special kind of asshole to not appreciate how truly beautiful music is. But how many of us stop to consider how much blood, sweat and tears not to mention ingenuity and tenacity goes into crafting a song, or any piece of music for that matter.

I must admit that I’d given scant thought to this, until I watched the Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy this past Sunday. The Beach Boys are a household name to many, but I had no idea what a genius Brian really was.

While the film mainly portrayed a life tortured by (an apparent mis-diagnosis of) schizophrenia and other mental symptoms, Brian’s virtuosity was brought to the fore in the segment of the film where the song Good Vibrations was being recorded.

The song dubbed a “pocket symphony,” was recorded in 17 sessions at four different recording studios over a period of 8 months in short segments. Over 90 hours of magnetic recording tape was used and it cost between $50 000 and $75 000, a record production cost for a mere single. The techniques used by Brian and an assortment of musicians during the whole process was unprecedented.

In this segment of the film you can clearly sense the frustration and impatience of the other members of the Beach Boys and the personnel involved, because it’s quite clear they did not understand the genius at work, nor recognize history in the making.

There is quite a detailed account of the recording process over at Wikipedia for those with more than a casual interest, but there are probably better sources which explain the complexities in finer detail for the aficionados.

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