Brian Wilson’s past is not without its bumps and moments of psychoses. As the legend goes, in 1964, the Beach Boys front man suffered a panic attack five minutes into a flight and then stayed home from the band’s tour, opting instead to work on what would become the world’s very first concept album: Pet Sounds.
2016 marks the 50-year anniversary of the record’s original release. There have already been a few tributes to the seminal album, like a special video annotation and a forthcoming 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition box set. Most recently, Entertainment Weekly premiered a previously unheard vocal session for “I Know There’s An Answer.” The nine-minute clip will appear on the upcoming collection.
“I thought Mike [Love, the band’s co-founder] and I had a good interaction and he sang very well,” the Wilson told EW of the recording. “He listened to my direction and I enjoyed his sense of humor.”
“I Know There’s An Answer” was originally called “Hang On to Your Ego” and detailed Wilson’s acid trips, but Love thought it was “too much of a doper song.” “I was aware that Brian was beginning to experiment with LSD and other psychedelics,” Love explained. “The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing… I wasn’t interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego.”
Some lyrical conflicts ensued, with Wilson and Love eventually agreeing on a name change and some subtle modifications that made the piece about finding yourself instead of “dopers.” It’s a great song either way, and this new vocal session offers an intimate window into its recording process. Check it out above and remember to hang on to your ego, or don’t. There’s probably an answer out there somewhere, but God Only Knows I don’t have it.
Image: Capitol Records