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Fourth of July arrives one day early for Beach Boys

The Independence Day fireworks celebrations are being held in Boston one day ahead – on the third instead of the fourth of July. That’s because of the weather – and the Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

Hurricane Arthur is expected to hit early in the morning on the fourth, so the Boston Pops concert organizers had two choices – hold the fireworks show on the third or the fifth. They chose the third because the Beach Boys couldn’t come on the fifth – they have another concert elsewhere that day. [click to continue…]

I can hear music

I love the Beach Boys' song, I Can Hear Music. The ardour of young love and the sweet harmony capture all that is beautiful in life. Yes, it's just a teenage love song, but listen to the jangling guitars, insistent beat and plaintive voices. Isn't that what life is all about: wishing and hoping and, if you are lucky, getting what you want?

Popular music perhaps most faithfully articulates our feelings, for it changes with every generation, and no two generations have ever seen eye to eye. I can't stand rap music any more than the rappers have time for the Beach Boys and the Beatles. This evanescence is what makes popular music so appealing, for it mirrors our own lives. We know it's going to fade away, just as we will, but that's why it's all the more dear to us, because we can identify with it.

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Love songs for Valentine’s Day: Mid-60s to 70s

Here are some wonderful love songs from the mid-1960s and the Seventies to follow up the classics from the mid-50s and early Sixties. Here we have the Monkees, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Doors, the Beach Boys, John Denver, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, the Temptations, Roberta Flack and Fleetwood Mac.

The Monkees, I'm A Believer, 1966

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Jejune

Much of the early Beach Boys’ songs are about high school and teenagers. Some of them are quite funny, but they aren’t as naughty and knowing as Chuck Berry’s celebrations of teenage life. The Beach Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun, for example, is as infectious and more filled with harmony than anything composed by Chuck Berry, but the lyrics aren’t in the same league as a Chuck Berry classic like Nadine. In fact, I was about to describe the early Beach Boys’ lyrics as "jejune". Not "childish" or "juvenile" but something "adolescent".

Adolescent they are but they can’t be called "jejune". Though "jejune" is lumped together with "juvenile" and "puerile" in the thesaurus, there is a difference according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. According to it, "jejune" means "naive and simplistic" and can also mean "dull". The Beach Boys are by no means dull. But that’s what "jejune" means according to the COED. It says the word comes from the Latin "jejunus", which means "fasting, barren".

I am surprised that a word derived from the Latin for "barren" became a synonym for "juvenile". The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary categorically says "jejune" means "juvenile" and "puerile". "Juvenile", "puerile", "infantile" all come from Latin words for children. But "jejune" originally had nothing to do with children. How did it come to be associated with "juvenile"?

Meanwhile, here’s Chuck Berry performing Roll over Beethoven. I did find a clip of him performing Nadine with Keith Richard. But this is an all-time classic.   

Sloop John B

The Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead are my favourite American rock groups. They may be very different but both are strong on guitars and harmony and both came out of the West Coast. This is my favourite Beach Boys song, Sloop John B, performed at a concert in England in 1980, long after their glory days in the early 1960s when they were the most successful American band with their "California sound". A very different California sound from that of the Eagles, whom I don’t dig at all. The lyrics of the Beach Boys’ early songs may be inconsequential, but the harmony is heavenly. Brian Wilson is a genius.