I've been listening to a lot of old Beach Boys stuff this week, I suppose for two main reasons (besides that I love it): 1) that new album, which I don't yet have, but have been streaming off the internets...the last three songs a beautiful mini-suite I hope in a way is the last thing Brian Wilson ever writes for them, it's so perfect 2) reading Fuel-Injected Dreams, a gift from Drew, which references that era, the pre-Beatles US pop period of surf songs and Spector and Brian.
Digging out an old/not-so-old Wilson solo album from the late 90s I hardly ever play and listening to it again, one song especially leapt out at me.
I looked the record up. And should have know this was an old song, one he'd noodled about with many times over the years but never officially released (massive shout out/acknowledgements here to Wanarkey's Beach Boys Blog whence the older tracks are sourced).
Here it is at an early stage - mostly the instrumental track but a work in progress with vocal parts being overdubbed...
The Beach Boys - 'Sandy (2nd vocal overdub)' (1965)
Here it is in 1976, the 15 Big Ones period, raggedy but kind of complete, with new lyrics and the girl's name changed, again not released...
The Beach Boys - 'Sherry She Needs Me' (1976)
And here from Imagination, with another new title and some big production that has just enough of the classic era sound to cut it...
Brian Wilson - 'She Says That She Needs Me' (1998)
There are lots of Brian Wilson songs like this...worked on, abandoned, revisited, worked on again through the years.
It tells us a lot, I think: that he comes back to things because he still hears them in his head and wants to get them 'out there'; that almost back on the sort of treadmill in the late 80s/90s that proved so disastrous to his mental health in the mid 60s, there was pressure like the old pressure to come up with material, but with the creative juices not flowing as easily, it proved pragmatic to dig out old stuff; but mostly that back then so much was flowing that even songs other people would sweat blood to create were left lying around - with always another elusive tune to chase, always another musical wave crashing on the shore.