This is why God created the radio (2012) is the Beach Boys’ 29th and final studio album. It reunites the surviving trio of Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love; veteran associates Bruce Johnston and Jeff Foskett (who has a falsetto that could break sea glass); writing collaborator Joe Thomas; and David Marks, a second guitarist who last played with the band in 1963. As Smile (1967), it begins with a wordless a cappella anthem that foreshadows the songs to follow: in this case, bright, seamless minor-major harmonies and crisp jazz breaks that make the Beach Boys sound like an even more Steely Dan. White.
Brian Wilson sings his wholesome antiseptic plan to spread “love and sunshine / to a whole new generation” on the title track that follows. Jim Peterik, his co-writer, took the title from a conversation with Wilson about the bubbly rapture of AM radio through the speakers of his Plymouth Valiant in the good old days. Of course, says Wilson, “That’s why God created radio.” He goes through the next 11 songs using every moon-June-spoon scheme of Tin Pan Alley in an effort to prove him wrong.
‘Isn’t it Time’ is a hymn to the ‘feeling of/the magic of that summer of love’ as sure as death itself that ‘good times must never end’. On “Spring Vacation,” Love insists that this overproduced pleasure, fun, and pleasure “could last forever / as long as we can all stay together,” and so cheesily that Wilson makes John Mellencamp sound like Morrissey. The organ reverb on “Beaches in Mind” would be no less out of place on a Phil Collins record and convinces the listener that Wilson has nothing else in mind. “Daybreak Over the Ocean,” written by Love, is a throwback anthem filled with synth syncopation, phased drums, and gated reverb. He suffers from interest because the lover of Wilson is not, this time, swept away by another Internet user; she is dead, and he prays to join her soon. It’s the only song on the record that he didn’t produce.
With “Daybreak Over the Ocean”, we understand that this teenybopper kahuna has aged. Wilson’s then-aged vow that “not a care in the world is where I want to be…/the place in the sun where everyone can have fun” sounds mostly senile and rattles entirely absent in the cheerful mouth of a 20 year old. This album contains the first mention by the Beach Boys of another place and another time (the past). Same Smile engaged with the dreams and genocides of colonial America strictly as they were present. In “Cabin Essence”, which Mojo Magazine judge “Smile in the microcosm,” Wilson mutters that he’s going to “build you a house on the beach,” his croon overwhelmed by the Chinese laborers who run the iron horse.
Like the beach party movies of the ’60s, the running theme of ’60s Beach Boys records was schizoid insurance funded by sun, surf and sand in a melancholy, youthful, turtle-waxed world, in apart from race riots and nuclear holocaust. No wonder the “Shelter” in the last album’s namesake song denotes a time “when the world was just you and me.” The parochial bliss continues, now a big-screen pastiche, in “The Private Lives of Bill and Sue”: “Wasting time on a sunny day… / Their lives are like a scene from a movie.” In Wilson’s world, paradise is always a thing of the past, but here it is therefore inaccessible.
In the sweet calypso “Strange World,” the beach is, for the first time, the backdrop for something less than a chaste vital Sears & Roebuck romance. Through Wilson’s eyes, the Santa Monica Pier becomes a purgatory wasteland: “We watch the people who gather here / The undesirables who stray / And now we’re all here to stay.” The men (it is a testimony to their legend that they share a decreasing number of teeth between them, and yet one is always tempted to call them boys) make wop and dum-dee a swan song: “Multi- colorful lives we run / To catch a glimpse of the setting sun. I like you released in 1977, Wilson was – while insisting that “we will live forever / we will never die” – already pleading with God to “please let us continue on this path”.
“From There to Back Again” turns its twin lament to the runaway, the Beach Boys’ half-century-older ballad “We’ll Run Away,” backwards. Wilson greedily begs his wife not to leave behind the past (embodied in the old song by parents sure the lovers are not ready to run away) but to leave the present. “Why don’t we feel the way we used to feel anymore… / I wish we could come back from there again… / Thanks to our compromise, heaven / Is just another place on the wall… / Another place in time”. It’s even strange to hear these sun-drenched chimeras give way to serious “compromise” songs.
Wilson records the Beach Boys’ familiarly trippy cathedral harmonies for the final two songs. Forget nostalgia; they are downright funereal. By “Pacific Coast Highway”, he no longer has any ifs and whys. “Sometimes I realize my days are moving on / Sometimes I realize it’s time to move on… / The sunlight is fading and there’s not much left to say / My life, I’m better off alone… / Goodbye.” As if the metaphor wasn’t thin enough, “Summer’s Gone” (inexplicably co-written by Jon Bon Jovi) was the originally planned title track. It’s a sparse but salient echo of “Caroline No”, and ends the album with chimes and rain.
Wilson’s summer of life left him where he started. “It’s finally sinking in / One day begins / Another ends / I saw them all and back again.” His hair turns gray as he remains in the sand: “I will sit and watch the waves / We laugh, we cry / We live and then die / And dream of our yesterday.” The pies fell from the sky directly onto the devil and the deep blue sea. Simplicity can be brilliant, and it can be youthful. A quick Google search reveals that every song in this grizzled septuagenarian farewell is classified as children’s music.
No time in This is why God created the radio calls for a more cynical suspension of disbelief than “Spring Vacation” when Love chimes in with Wilson, the cousin he’d spent the past 20 years chasing, “we’re back together / easy money,” hailing shameless blessings of “What’s yours / Hallelujah! They assure us with less conviction than a choir of young Calvinists that they “still have a [contractually-obligated] explosion.” That’s enough Wilson can assure us of anything, given that his latest records sound like an invalid reading glitchy cue with a gun to his temple. He’s in full adenoid form here.
Perhaps the album’s main distinction is that it seals the Beach Boys’ name on a higher note than their previous album, Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 (1996) (pop-country self-covers), or the last release bearing their name, The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and David Marks salute NASCAR (1998) (MIDI heavy self-covers, only available at your local “76” gas station).
While many critics criticized the record, few explained its fame. While several Beach Boys albums have surpassed This is why God created the radioneither debuted in the Billboard Top 10. It debuted at number three, setting the highest debut on the group’s US albums chart and charting higher than animal sounds (1966), which peaked at number ten. The gap of 49 years and one week between the album’s release on June 5, 2012 and the top 10 single “Surfin’ USA” on June 15, 1963 surpassed the Beatles’ previous record for longest chart run ( 47 years, seven months and three weeks).
Most fans of this ode to milquetoast salads seem to rather admire the circumstances in which it was made. Wilson slowly and surely became a homebound victim and hermit after a schizoaffective breakdown in 1964, during which he became obsessively self-conscious about his image and self-medicated with food, drugs and alcohol. ‘alcohol. He placed himself in the care of psychologist Eugene Landy in the 1970s and 1980s. It was as rehabilitative as it was dictatorial: Landy billed Wilson the current equivalent of $1.2 million a year, in addition receiving a quarter from his publishing royalties and songwriting credits on his solo albums.
The ’90s were a never-ending, brotherly wave of vilification, guardianship, publishing rights, and songwriting credit lawsuits between beach men. Wilson’s second wife, Melinda, testified that when they married in 1995, he was involved in nine. In the end, Love controlled the group. He kicked Wilson and Jardine off the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour and played county fair and casino acts under the name with his licensed scabs, recently headlining the Safari Club International Convention. in Reno and Donald Trump’s re-election fundraiser in Newport Beach. His biggest sin was “Kokomo”.
This is why God created the radio practically begging to be hit. If you had a penny every time an old Beach Boys song is mentioned, you’d have enough to sue them yourself. Incredibly angelic harmonies lighten up for a few seconds here and there; the rest becomes more confusing with each listen. I love him sincerely, deeply and madly. It’s as disturbing as it is harmless in a way that I can’t compare to any album I’ve ever heard except God bless Tiny Tim (1968). It couldn’t have been a better end to the band’s career as it takes one last look back at the myth that carried it on, browning good vibes with a brotherhood crafted long after the California wine curdled.
This farewell record yields a dream that disillusioned his fans for a long time. The decades have reduced it to the Beach Boys’ most bare-bones elements of chromatic harmony and spiel verse. The songs ensure the band’s most prefabricated monotony, their most religious genius, and little in between. In Californian fashion, the album is as disturbing as it is fatalistic. As Wilson chants in harmless hesitation, “The world has changed / yet the game / Is still the same.” Nothing left to want, and nothing left to prove. This is why God created the radio, to fill the air with a past that leaves no trace. Fold your ears. There’s nothing new under the sun, sun, sun.
Beviglia, Jim. “beach boys: This is why God created the radio”. American songwriter. 2012.
Petridis, Alex. “beach boys: This is why God created the radio – critique”. The Guardian. May 31, 2012.
“‘This is Why God Created Radio‘ by the Beach Boys’. Cultural fusion. April 22, 2013.
“That’s why God made radio by the Beach Boys”. Facts about the song. n/a