Darkness Goes, Softness Shows: KLB’s Summer Mix 2009
Summer. Laure’s sixth-floor chambre de bonne—I’ll say!—is like a convection oven minus the fan. The only Parisian bodies of water to cool off in are the Seine (sludge), the fountain at the Parc Villette (piss), and the canal St. Martin-Ourcq, which one of my friends dissuaded me from (drunkenly) leaping into by identifying its contents as ‘diverse bacteria and sharp objects’. There’s also public pools, but they have a strict Speedo-only policy.
To beat the heat, my tracklist this summer so far has consisted almost entirely of a band I have long misunderstood: the Beach Boys. My parents had the Endless Summer collection on vinyl when I was kid, so I was familiar with the surfing safaris, girls and nation. Fine. (I also saw them play on that Full House episode where Danny Tanner hosts a marathon fundraiser.) Then in college I got to know Pet Sounds, which I respect more than adore, and then Surf’s Up, in my opinion, the group’s last gasp of greatness.
For the past few weeks, however, I’ve been bathing in the rest of their discography, and my opinion of the band has gone from the Animal Collective I-never-gave-a-shit-about-anyone-but-Dennis attitude to a more wizened: ‘In all things, grasshopper, much to appreciate.’ Today!, Smiley Smile, Wild Honey, Friends, Sunflower, 20/20—these are all solid, sometimes transcendent albums. Who knew?
So, instead of assembling a summery mélange like last time, this year’s mix is exclusively Beach Boys (although the Zombies have been getting heavy rotation around here, too). And this is your not mama’s Beach Boys; there’s a place for ‘Little Deuce Coup,’ but it ain’t here! Ceci n’est pas un party mix.
Darkness Goes, Softness Shows focuses more on the group’s more delicate, mysterious and wistful moments, the deep cuts. I realized only after I gathered my favorite tracks that most of the material came from what would have been Smile, the album that never was, until it was, in 2004, when Brian Wilson, who had suffered a debilitating breakdown during the recording sessions, scrapped plans to arrange the scattered vintage takes into a work faithful to his original vision, and re-recorded everything. (The resulting product was welcome but uninspiring.) But not all the tracks here are Smile manqué.
The highlights for me are: ‘Darlin,’ the kind of track I would eagerly put on at a party, only to be met with shrugs and stares; ‘All I Wanna Do,’ the grooviest cut in their discography; ‘Wind Chimes,’ the lost Sung Tongs b-side; ‘Disney Girls,’ which has one of the most moving moments in the pop canon (starting at 2:05 in this recording) and was later covered and sort of ruined by Garfunkel (..Garfunkel!); and the celebrated solo piano version of ‘Surf’s Up,’ not the take from the eponymous album.
I hope you guys enjoy it. I spent a lot of time putting it together—much more than I should have, considering the amount of work I have right now, between work, school and applications for next year—above all on the sequencing, which I assume will be compromised as soon as you import the file to your media player. So, if you have a moment and you want the full experience, please, please consult the tracklist in the comments section.