I Get Around (1964)

Beach Boys

Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
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I Get Around Blue corvette“I Get Around” was The Beach Boys’ first #1 hit and still stands the test of time, hewing to tradition as well as being innovative enough not to be thought a rip-off of the past. It moved California’s favorite singing sons to a new level.

Woven into the song’s fabric is a Chuck Berry-inspired lead guitar played proficiently by Carl Wilson and a pile of vocals that descend directly from The Everly Brothers, take a page from the falsetto of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and the choiring of surf angels that seems to have been in the air around southern California in the early-1960s.

“I Get Around”

Berry notwithstanding, the opening guitar notes of “I Get Around” are among the first in mainstream music to feature fuzz-tone effects and reverb. The fuzz box was a relatively new invention and reverb had previously been used only on vocal tracks and occasionally on an isolated drum layer.

I Get Around PasadenaThe guitar mimics the sound of a muscle car cruising, torqued out, clawing and growling down “The Strip.” And, in the early-’60s southern Cali was exploding with such street scenes. (See the movie American Graffiti.) 

The lyrics tell a simple, borderline-silly tale of a bunch of buddies who drive around looking for…action? It’s innocent enough. Fun, music, wheels, girls, the joy of being young and alive condensed into 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

Aside from the hooky chorus of “Round, round get around, I get around,” the rest of the lines are peculiar for Rock at the time, coming across as flashes, abstractions. They echo bits and pieces of the cruising reality. Details are not really assimilated. There are just flashing pictures, mini-scene sequences.

I’m gettin’ bugged driving
I Get Around LA 1962up and down this same old strip
I gotta find a new place
where the kids are hip

My buddies and me
are getting real well known
Yeah, the bad guys know us
and they leave us alone

and

We always take my car
cause it’s never been beat
And we’ve never missed yet
with the girls we meet

None of the guys go steady
’cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home
on a Saturday night

The flash of chrome, surfer hair in the warm wind, rhythm pounding, guitars blazing, the voice of Mike Love flapping above the beach, having money in your pocket –
maybe for the first time – the world at your feet.

I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around
I’m makin’ real good bread
Get around round round I get around

Carl Wilson plays a strong lead guitar, powerful enough to belt out that it’s “100% male” but artistic enough to speak of another side to his soul. The timing of the harmonies in and out of the lead vocals is impeccable and I Get Around mainalready in 1964 they tell us that a genius was forming around Brian Wilson whose devotion to precision is one of his many calling cards. Interspersed in the drumming are crisp, sparse handclaps – borrowed from The Beatles’ success with the device.

“I Get Around” holds the same ridiculous optimism as other Beach Boys’s songs from the early years: “Be True To Your School,” “When I Grow Up To Be A Man” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Although the flip side of “I Get Around” is the ruminative “Don’t Worry Baby,” Brian Wilson was deep inside the moments before he heard voices in his head, before the real world smacked the golden summer dream around, before the boys became men, before they really got around.

mangoids
  • Brian Wilson: “[My dad] took us to a really good recording studio and helped us out a lot. But he was also pretty tough at times. He scared me so much with his yelling – he would be yelling and poking fingers in my chest, screaming, ‘Get in there and kick ass and make a good record.’”

Also by Beach Boys on SongMango.com:

  • Beahc boys funFun Fun FunThe old T-Bird is cherry but needs a little more time in the family garage to be taken out on very special occasions.
  • Don't worry brian mainDon't Worry BabyThe gold standard of Rock ballads, of car songs and of male introspection songs.

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