Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Beach Boys v. Crosby Stills and Nash - Songwriters Match-up #8


This match-up is between two classic rock bands known for their beautiful harmonies.

Lyrics - The Beach Boys 5, CSN 5

I am calling it a tie here. CSN wrote lyrics that were perfect for late sixties counter culture, emphasizing peace, free love and a breaking from tradition. But The Beach Boys had so many great songs that so perfectly summed up an “endless summer” eternal teenage themes such as girls, cars and surfing. Compare CSN’s Teach Your Children with The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows – both are so different and both are so good.

Composition – The Beach Boys 7, CSN 3

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys is widely regarded as one of the most talented composers and arrangers Rock and Roll has ever seen. Although both CSN and The Beach Boys are known for vocal harmony, the harmonies and vocal arrangements of songs that were composed by The Beach Boys are hard to beat. There is also more of an orchestral quality to the work of The Beach Boys from the mid-sixties onward as they began to move away from the simplicity of their earlier material. The Beatles and The Beach Boys were both trying to out do the other in the late sixties, each exploring the most innovative new studio techniques and complex arrangements. The Beatles released “Rubber Soul” and The Beach Boys answered with what many consider their best album, “Pet Sounds”. Paul McCartney of the Beatles had this to say about it.

It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life ... I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... it may be going overboard to say it's the classic of the century ... but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways ... I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John [Lennon] so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence ... it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines ... and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. "God Only Knows" is a big favourite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe in Me", I love that melody - that kills me ... that's my favourite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-coloured harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.

Influence – The Beach Boys 6, CSN 4

The Beach Boys had more influence I believe because they set the bar for so many other bands. It is just as Paul McCartney described in the excerpt above.

Originality – The Beach Boys 6, CSN 4

The Beach Boys take this category as well. Just listen to the song “Good Vibrations”. I can’t think of almost anything like it.

Durability – The Beach Boys 6, CSN 4

The romanticized endless summer immortalized in the music of the Beach Boys has a way of resonating with youth of any decade and living on in the hearts of those who are older but still like to revisit their teenage years through good rock and roll music.

In conclusion, The Beach Boys win this songwriter match up 30 to 20 mostly due to the greater compositional complexity of their music. Still, in certain frames of mind, I'd rather listen to CSN.

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