Jake from Effingham, Illinois wrote to me with a great story about him and his high school sweetheart and the Beach Boys. A good example of how a song can grow to mean something romantic and personal, but still be universally meaningful. Let Jake tell us about it:
It was the magic year of 1967. I say it was magic because so many unbelieveable things were going on in the world that it was hard to keep up with everything. Brenda and I were in high school, seniors at the time, and had been going out for a few months. We were ahead of the times, at least in our little town in the dead center of the prairie, and we both liked to read about what was happening in the new counter culture that was blossoming on the coasts of the country. We also liked to think that we were being fashionable with our bell bottom jeans, our floppy hats, granny glasses, and of course, long hair. And we were interested in music the way that everyone was in those days, keeping an ear to the radio and buying 45s whenever we could – we couldn’t really afford the long playing records for a few years.
There was something uncool about the Beach Boys at that time. While other groups were taking rock into a different world – the Byrds, the Beatles, the Stones all had started making huge steps forward with each new record – they seemed to be stuck in a world of surfing and beaches, hot rods and old-fashioned values. In other words, we didn’t really care for them or keep up with what they were doing. All that changed when we first heard their song (title here).
We both remember that it was spring and we were sitting in my dad’s car in the park. It wasn’t a lover’s lane, but just a place where we could sit and listen to the radio, talk about our future, and enjoy each other’s company. We knew that we were getting perilously close to adulthood when everything got really serious, and were smart enough to make some plans. We wanted to go to college at the same school, and we were going to live in dorms – no together, because that was a big step that we weren’t ready for yet.
But we were in love, with that teenage rush of passion and romance infusing our days together. We spent as much time as we could together, but looked forward to being able to freely love each other and be grownups about our romance. As we were talking about all of this important stuff, all of a sudden, the new single from the Beach Boys came on the radio, and we felt transformed.
It seemed like the group had finally gotten the message and made the jump into a new world. The song had a shimmering, airy sound that seemed to take you up above the clouds of the world. It was so romantic and sensual, but so amazingly cool and hip at the same time. And the lyrics seemed to say exactly what was on our minds at that time. We dreamed about taking our love to the next stage, and being able to spend the night in each other’s arms. The idea of waking up together was intoxicating, sinful, but wildly romantic, and to our teenage ears the song said it all. We would be doing that in just a few short months, and with the Beach Boys’ help.
Of course, we immediately drove down to the only place to buy records in town – GC Murphy’s department store – and got the 45 of the song. We wore it out that spring, and had to buy another copy. Our romance bloomed and grew into the summer when we went off to college, and started our life together. And it has been nice, very nice indeed.