C Am | Eb Cm | Dm |G G+ Ah ah | ah ah ah ah| ah ah ah ah |ah ah ah E C Bb C G Bb A A G F E D D#The timing here is of interest, because like similar ballads including Surfer Girl, In My Room, and Girls on the Beach there is an underlying threeness, this is probably best viewed as being in 12/8 meter. This timing is interesting because the underlying arpeggios, based on triplets, are easily accompanied by a backbeat in the percussion section, creating a solid feeling of fours, made more prominent by bass notes on the first and seventh of those twelve eighth notes. It is thus very easy to hear this song happening fast in triplets and slowly in four beats, just by refocusing what you listen to... Notice too that the backing voices are scat, only oohs, no words, and as is so often the case fill a wide range of the EQ band from Mike very low to what sounds like another Brian up very high.
And those familiar with standard pop progressions will see that the harmony here goes far afield of the standard pattern, and does so even more radically than Surfer Girl. That E flat chord is absolutely out of left field, very modal yet not following any traditional modulation, yet it works. Having gotten there, the rest of the pattern unfolds in a more standard but unrelated genre, a jazzy feel that stands in testimony to Brian's Four Freshmen roots. The augmented chord as well has a sort of Forties feel to it, yet was often used in pop music, even by the Beatles more than once (From Me To You, It's Only Love).
As interesting as the timing and chords are, the most beautiful and haunting element is the lovely falsetto melody that sits atop them. I have always perceived Brian's main gift as a melodic one, and his genius is his ability to accompany that essential melodic idea with the appropriate harmonies from both intstruments and voices, and a variety of sounds in his arrangements. But it all begins with that melody, that one central hummable whistlable single line where the whole thing starts. This little piece is one of his best, and while we're here let's note that it's actually an alternate or variation of the verse melody. So while this is beautiful and quite interesting in how it moves across keys relentlessly, it's not even the only melody he wrote for this pattern in this song. Wow.
Let's also note that like most Brian ballads, there is no instrumental/solo/obbligado part or whatever you want to call it. And unlike the intro to Surfer Girl which only happens once, this falsetto melody occurs throughout, serving as both the intro, a transition between verses, and the outro. Also, the falsetto voice is actually the sort of lead instrument in this song, in that it is the only element that emerges and takes the foreground aside from the voices singing the lyrics.
The harmonic rhythm, how fast the chords change, is very interesting in this line. Overall it spans enough room for a less talented composer to go through the standard I-vi-IV-V pattern twice, but instead it has the interesting variant C Am Eb Cm as the first part, then lingers on Dm for twice as long, then stretches the G out and raises it at the end. The Dm's extra length to me invokes that logy feeling of slowed time that the bright sun can cause. The movement from Cm to a long Dm to the G and then G augmented is very typical of Brian's ascending approach, and songs about something way high up there are certainly appropriate candidates for melodies and patterns that rise. Special mention should be made of the journey from a "happy" C major to a "sad" C minor, then through the Dm and G back around to the major again: musically enacting a cycle of loss and recovery within a single line.
Talk about your bummed out dude. The background voices disappear, leaving the stage to a solo lead voice. The feeling of despair that accompanied *both* Kennedy assassinations is well articulated here, all the moreso by not actually mentioning the event. I for one was very touched to discover that story, the JFK angle, behind this song... another interesting angle, picking up on the classical themes I mentioned earier, is the "rosy-fingered Dawn" of so many epic poems as an introductory theme here. If you're going to be Apollonian I guess it makes sense to be somewhat Homeric.
The melody contains beautiful leaps, and an interesting kind of symmetry. Each line has two half lines, each of which is sung with the same timing (which sort of resembles a bugle blowing reveille). Yet each half line has its own little melody to fit the underlying harmony:
C................Am....Eb...Cm.........Dm.....G....G+ G E F E C Bb Bb Ab G F What good is the dawn, that grows into day?That G to E is a big leap, the octave B flats even bigger. There is a resemblance with the intro melody, the first big leap is in the same place, but the differences are significant. Note too the facility with which Brian follows his melody across the chords, unafraid to melodize on the fifth, seventh, or any note that sounds good, unanchored by the predictable roots and thirds that occur over and over again to lesser minds.
The musical accompaniment for both of these lines is essentially the intro repeated twice, with the exception of the very last chord; where there is a G+ in the intro, the second line of the verse make a quick pass at an E chord:
C Am | Eb Cm | Dm |G E For I have the
The E chord's purpose was to set up a neat movement to what seems to be a very Lennonesque, chromatic meditation in the key of A. This chorus moves in a way very similar to the Beatle line "because the world is round...:"
Bass: A G# G F# G Chords: Amaj7 C D9 Gmaj7 G G+ Words: Warmth of the sun within me at night
The love of my life, she left me one day. I cried when she said, I don't feel the same way.
The death of JFK, assuming that is part of the motivation here as referenced in various books, is "sublimated" or assimilated as a form of lost love, here personified as a female significant other. There is something effective about using the same rhyming words as the first verse, and the ambiguity in the last phrase... is it that she does not feel the way he does, or does not feel how she used to? Of course, the two emotions are operationally identical: it's over. And the same movement, the quick passing E chord, occurs again to take us to the second chorus.
The musical material is again identical to the previous chorus. Well, it's almost all the same, but we'll get to that. The lyric variation is again subtle... the previous chorus described that inner warmth as being generally associated with the night, this one claims its presence on this specific night.
This chorus cooks along just like the previous one, until the very end. Where it used to repeat the G to G augmented transition to wrap around to the verse, we have something completely different:
Chords: |G Ebm7 Ab|And this pulls the entire affair up a half step, a modulation, so that the third verse comes in that little bit higher and brighter than all previous material.
Now we have seen at least two other modulations in this series, Surfer Girl and God Only Knows. This one is more like Surfer Girl, going up a half step and staying there for the duration. And this is a pop music trick, actually stolen from classical music, used all the time. However this one is worthy of note for several reasons...
First of all, it is sneaky, for want of a better word. Normally these kind of lifts spend a moment or two on the new V chord (Ab in this case) to get the new key feel going, then go to the root. But not in this case, we barely touch the new key before we are off into a full verse. The movement is sudden, not telegraphed, evoking the suddenness of a cloud movement and the attendant quick increase in brightness.
Also this movement to a new key happens relatively early in the proceedings. With Surfer Girl we get only one verse in the new key, then a coda, and that is fairly typical. Here we are going to the new key not just for a verse, but also for the following chorus (which contains perhaps the summary lyric of the entire song) and an outro that uses the same relative melody and chords as the intro, but is in the new key. It is as if the new key were a new home, something permanent, a plane of ascent reached through pain.
C# A#m | E C#m | D#m |G# G#+ C# A#m | E C#m | D#m |G# F My love's like theThat's the music for those of you playing along at home. Noteworthy too is a change in the arrangement here, namely the addition of some tinkling percussion on the threes, adding to the overall intensity, the heightened tension caused by the change of key. Contentwise, we have moved from real life into dreamland:
I'll dream of her arms, and though they're not real, just like she's still there, the way that I feel; my love's like the...
The semi-articulate yet touching sentiments are very similar to what will emerge years later in Pet Sounds...
Bass: Bb A Ab G Ab Chords: Bbmaj7 Db Eb9 Abmaj7 Ab Ab+ Warmth of the sun, it won't ever die.And this is the lyrical resolution of the piece, that the inner warmth is a form of transcendance, immortality. The closing fade is the intro repeated in the new key, essentially the same as verse three. By fading rather than ending, and returning albeit in a higher key to the exact same material as the intro, we have a circular feeling, the same vibrations but at a higher pitch. And the specter of Death lends a Shakespearean sonnet feel once again (My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun is another related lyric...).
"Brian Wilson is God, and we are all worshipping at his little altar hoping for a light touch."
Return to main Beach Boys page.