Lunch Break: The Beach Boys, “Down at the Drive-In”

All these thoughts about food and adolescent bands reminded me of this tune from around 1964 by the Beach Boys.

I was a huge Beach Boys fan, at least till the British wave first hit. And, I was always enamored of Pet Sounds from first listen, which was a few years into the arrival of the Beatles and Stones.

I saw the Beach Boys live four or five times, though, during their hey day (I was at the show that was recorded and released as The Beach Boys in Concert) and their Surfin USA album was the first album I ever owned (a departure from the purchases of singles, that had dominated my life and appetite previously).

That meant that I started to buy albums as well as 45’s for a while, and for sure I got new Beach Boys albums, including Shut Down Vol. II from which I got to know this song.

By 1966, the side of Shut Down II (I think it was the second side) was on the record player spindle, along with side four of Blonde on Blonde and some other stuff I put on to hear every night as I went to sleep.

I remember liking this song a lot back then but have not thought about it for years (the food references, brought it up, I guess) but I was amazed when I listened that it is really a pretty tight little pop tune.

Pretty good words. Good Chuck Berry chords. Fabulous harmonies. Though the dullest break/solo in the history of time. I mean, Carl Wilson lays a couple of licks down during the finale: I wonder why they didn’t have him throw those in earlier?

Anyway, food, and being 14 aside, this is a really nice number from an era now long gone.  I have to say too, how sad hearing this makes me in way. I posted Brian Wilson on Saturday Night Live a while back. I noted how pathetic the performance was. In deference, surely, to how vibrant this stuff is.

Miss the real Brian.

4 thoughts on “Lunch Break: The Beach Boys, “Down at the Drive-In”

  1. The Beach Boys had a signature sound, but it synthesized so many other sounds it became their unique id. This song has layers of Buddy Holly, Phil Spector, Chuck Berry and the Coasters, at least, and the guitar plahing makes me think more than anything of C’est Plan por Moi.

  2. Funny, I didn’t like The Ramones at first because I thought the same. Took me a while to get into it. I prefered the harder stuff like Pistols, Dead Boys, etc.

  3. I confess that I loved the Pistols, first chord of the first song I ever heard by them. But, I felt the same about the Ramones, who had the power guitars, but I guess they had a nice sense of pop, which I guess I am a sucker for, like it or not. Though, I also confess, I never really made the connection between surf and the Ramones (and even correlating the Beach Boys, but now that you mention it…).

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