Why the Beach Boys Matter

Why the Beach Boys Matter

by Tom Smucker


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Of all the white American pop music groups that hit the charts before the Beatles, only the Beach Boys continued to thrive throughout the British Invasion to survive into the 1970s and beyond. The Beach Boys helped define both sides of the era we broadly call the sixties, split between their early surf, car, and summer pop and their later hippie, counterculture, and ambitious rock. No other group can claim the Ronettes and the Four Seasons as early 1960s rivals; the Mamas and the Papas and Crosby, Stills and Nash as later 1960s rivals; and the Beatles and the Temptations as decade-spanning counterparts.

This is the first book to take an honest look at the themes running through the Beach Boys’ art and career as a whole and to examine where they sit inside our culture and politics—and why they still grab our attention.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477318720
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Series: Music Matters
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,269,780
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Tom Smucker has written rock criticism for Creem, Fusion, Rolling Stone, and the Village Voice.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Harmony and Discord
  • 2. Cars and Guitars
  • 3. Suburbs and Surf
  • 4. Studio and Stage
  • 5. Fathers, Shrinks, and Gurus
  • 6. Girlfriends, Wives, and Mothers
  • 7. When Did the Early Sixties End?
  • 8. Jan and Dean
  • 9. Innocence and the Second-Best Pop Album Ever
  • 10. Hip and White
  • 11. The Best Unreleased Pop Album Ever
  • 12. The Beatles
  • 13. Into the Genres
  • 14. Dennis
  • 15. Carl
  • 16. Al, Bruce, and David
  • 17. Mike
  • 18. Brian Solo
  • 19. Storytellers, Historians, and Fans
  • 20. Summer’s Gone, the Endless Summer
  • Epilogue: Suggestions
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Discography
  • A Chronological Listing of DVDs
  • Mentioned in the Book
  • Bibliography

What People are Saying About This

Guitarist Marc Ribot

“Smucker’s mix of unabashed fanboy enthusiasm with razor sharp analysis makes him the perfect teller of this story.”

Robert Christgau

"Having spent a lifetime digging into everything the Beach Boys have recorded, Smucker knows it to be fun fun fun, great art, and a barometer of our class, race, and gender politics since World War II."

Marc Ribot

"Smucker’s mix of unabashed fanboy enthusiasm with razor-sharp analysis makes him the perfect teller of this story."

David Leaf

"Tom Smucker pointed me in the right direction for what became my life’s journey."

Eric Lott

"Smucker perfectly captures the world the Beach Boys made. This is the band in full career ricochet, summing up and summoning a whole way of life."

Customer Reviews