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"I Get Around" By The Beach Boys, The Happiest Song With An Ugly Past

Entertainment | November 15, 2021

One of the most successful double sided singles of all time. (spotify)

On July 4th, 1964, “I Get Around” scored the Beach Boys their first #1 hit in America. Released as a double single with “Don’t Worry Baby,” the pairing ranks among the all-time two for one alongside The Beatles’ “Penny Lane/Strawberry Field Forever” and Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog.” Taking the top spot meant a lot to the father-son tandem of Murray and Brian Wilson. The previous two years they earned back-to-back 2nd place finishes to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Surf City.”

For the Beach Boys, it was worth the wait. “I Get Around” sold nearly 2 million US copies and reached #7 in the UK. Apparently, Mick Jagger himself had a hand in distributing the ode to teenage exuberance. Here’s everything you wanted to know about “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys.

One of the best vibrations bands ever. (TheBeachBoys)

A Vibe Song

As even the most ardent Beach Boys’ fans will agree, their early stuff wasn't exactly John Lennon or Fleetwood Mac when it comes to lyrics. Nevertheless, they created the jam of the summer, a song everyone wanted to listen to with the top down and the wind in their hair.

Despite the lack of heart-rending lyrics, the Beach Boys still managed to innovate on “I Get Around.” The opening fuzz of the guitar would become a staple of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton just a few years later. ‘64’s summer anthem was the first to pointedly make use of the sound.

Famously only one of the Beach Boys could surf but they could sure sing about it. (colleconline)

“I Get Around Roots”

Randy Bachman, in a conversation with Brian Wilson, learned the genesis of “I Get Around,” the Broadway Showtune “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.”

"I said, 'How did you do that?' He said, 'Well, when they say to stay on the C chord for two beats, I stay on it for four. Or if they say stay on the C chord for eight beats, I stay on it for two.' So if you listen to 'Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, oh, what those five feet could do,' that's 'I Get Around.' But they went, 'Round, round, get around, I get around.' And then he put his own, 'Woo oo,' and then he wrote his own song and he put in his own lyrics."

“Bands are relationships and relationships change over time,” said Brain Wilson in 2011. “The Beach Boys [started as] a family — three brothers, a cousin and a friend — which gave us a cohesiveness."

Troubled Production

While the song imbues a carefree and happy-go-lucky attitude, reportedly the recording of it was anything but. Biographer Steven Gaines wrote that the overbearing Murray Wilson stood in the control room, "criticizing the song and Brian's production techniques ... rambl[ing] on about what a loser Brian was, how poor the music was, and how only Murray had the real talent in the family. At one point he insisted that Brian end the [recording] session because something was wrong with the bassline." They recorded the vocals a week later, hopefully without Murray Wilson present.

Unfortunately, good vibes don't always last. (biography)

Family Squabbles

Over the years after the Beach Boys' stopped performing together, Mike Love repeatedly sued his cousin, Brian Wilson. Love claimed he helped write many songs such as “I Get Around,” “409” and 33 others. For his part, Wilson explicitly wrote in his autobiography that Love took no part in the composition of hits like ″California Girls″ and ″Surfin’ USA.″ Nevertheless, in ‘94 a jury ruled that Love was owed 30% of a $10 million lawsuit stemming from a separate Wilson lawsuit against Irving Music.

Love said after the decision that he’d welcome a reunion. ″The fact is that if a healthy group is together with some creativity, millions of dollars can be made.″ However, in 2007, he sued Wilson again over a rerecorded 2004 promotional CD that was handed out for free in conjunction with a London newspaper. Reportedly, Love told Wilson “you better start writing a real big hit because you’re going to have to write me a real big check.”

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins threw out the lawsuit stating, “[Love] also admits that he re-recorded some of the co-authored songs several times between 1996 and 1998 without first informing [Wilson].”

Tags: Brian Wilson | I Get Around | Mike Love | The Beach Boys

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!