THE NEAREST FARAWAY PLACE
“add Some Music To Your Day”
By late 1966, after hours of writing, composing, and recording demos for over twenty songs, Brian and Van Dyke had the basic tracks for the Beach Boys' next album ready for the studio. Capitol Records, worried that the group hadn't had a radio hit all summer, printed the new album cover and notified the press of a Christmas release date. Smile, as the album was now called, was to include such songs as “Heroes and Villains,” “Cabin Essence,” and “Do You Dig Worms?” The experimental nature of Brian's arrangements and Van Dyke's complex lyrics were influenced by the growing youth movement in the United States and abroad, but they lacked the political awareness and activism central to that movement. They were mostly expressions of Brian's innermost thoughts and fears.
Meanwhile, the touring members of the Beach Boys were drawing bigger crowds than ever thanks to the continuing success of “Good Vibrations.” They left on a tour of the midwestern United States, followed by stops in Sweden, central Europe, and Great Britain (where Mike, Dennis, and Carl bought four Rolls-Royce limousines). Early in the tour, Brian grew worried about how “Good Vibrations” would sound performed live, so he flew to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to help the band rehearse. Together for the first time since the Pet Sounds sessions, the group spent a long, tiring day going over each of the songs on the set list. Onstage, however, diey were thoroughly prepared, and “Good Vibrations” was note-for-note perfect. Brian even took a bow after the show and received a standing ovation.
Back home, he continued recording the music for Smile at Gold Star Studios. After more than thirty sessions, Smile was still not ready for the vocal tracks. Brian was forced to tell Capitol that the album wouldn't make the new release date of January 15, 1967, and the news was not well received, “At that time,” Carl remarked in 1983, “it just seemed inconceivable to spend two years on an album. Just think: two years before, they [Capitol] wanted three albums a year.”
Did You Know?
Brian became completely unpredictable during the Smile sessions. At one point, with more than a dozen string musicians waiting for him, Brian wouldn't enter the studio—he said the room was full of “bad vibes.” When the segment was finally recorded for a song called “Fire,” Brian was convinced that it had actually caused fires in the Los Angeles area.