By Jim Fusco:
Hello everyone and welcome to another Beach Boys edition of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog! Tonight’s song, “Till I Die” by the Beach Boys, goes out to everyone on the Brian Wilson message board, especially those who contributed to that great post about the Laptop Sessions.
Tonight’s song is ‘Til I Die, one of Brian Wilson’s most introspective and personal songs. I love the harmonies (Bruce Johnston once said that he believes it’s the last true Beach Boys song, with all the counter-harmonizing), but I think this paired-down version translates well. This performance shows how singularly personal this song can be.
If you’re a big fan like me, then I’m sure you’ve heard the alternate version of “Till I Die” that a producer made while mixing and mastering the “Surf’s Up” album. That version of this great Beach Boys song is very unique. It features almost the whole song with just the instruments playing. It’s pretty spooky to hear the cool vibes that Brian Wilson put into the original song. But, the most fascinating part of the instrumental section is how few instruments are used. The Beach Boys’ harmonies in “Till I Die” are wonderful and they fill up the whole song. It’s incredible to hear how Brian Wilson put it all together.
Of course, when you start listening to the lyrics, you realize how alone Brian felt while writing this song. As a songwriter, Brian Wilson usually had other people write the lyrics for him. But, I’m sure he contributed to the meaning of the song and knew the sentiment he wanted to get across. As you can tell, Brian was feeling lonely and realized that his life wasn’t going to change. And, yes, that was true for quite some time. Even when his other band members/family finally got him out of bed a few years later, it was embarrassing (remember the “Brian Is Back” campaign?) and short-lived. Instead of being the songwriter he was for the Beach Boys back in the early-mid sixties, he only wanted to play old songs he loved. Thus, the cover songs you hear on “15 Big Ones”. And when he actually went back to writing again, he was writing about pedestrian things like watching TV (“Johnny Carson”) and his family (“I Wanna Pick You Up”). I guess the good part was that Brian was finally living his life again, but somehow I doubt the PR image we’ve all been given really reflects his life at the time. He was neglecting his family members and I think there are some clues to that in songs from “Love You”. For instance, in “I Wanna Pick You Up” is about how he still thinks his children were “babies”, even though he had essentially missed those important years of their lives.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s music video and thanks for watching this Beach Boys cover song here on the music blog!