My Pop Life #5 : Friends – The Beach Boys

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Friends   –   The Beach Boys

…I talked your folks out of making you cut off your hair…

I thought Blue Mink was the first single I ever bought “The Banner Man” but that didn’t come out until 1971.  So was it this, in 1968?  I didn’t buy many singles – I didn’t have much money – and Mum did buy them, so maybe she bought this one too ?  One should remember one’s first single.  But it doesn’t really matter.  Maybe this was the first one of hers that I simply adored.  I was 11.  We were in a tied cottage in Selmeston just north of the South Downs, paying rent to the Lord Of The Manor, Dad had left a few years earlier and it was Mum, me, Paul and Andrew.  Plenty of music in the house, and plenty of now-legendary almost sacred singles that were played over and over.  I’ll get to them.  This one – a waltz by Brian Wilson – wasn’t on the 20 Golden Greats LP with the blue surfer cover that also got played to incessant death – Cottonfields, Wendy, I Get Around, Do It Again.

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“Friends” felt like my discovery and the song has been close to my heart ever since.  I wonder if I didn’t buy it years later in Eastbourne when I was 12/13.  1971.  Anyway.  Two and a half minutes of pure love. The beautiful bass harmonica texture, the vibraphone, the backing vocals, the wordless chorus of choral voices.  It’s a beauty.  Many many years later I would be playing this song in a Beach Boys tribute band in Brighton called, with true originality, “The Brighton Beach Boys“, and once we’d wrapped our vocal cords around the 20 great goldens I suggested we try “Friends”, and thence achieved holy joy each time we played it, with me on backing vocals and vibes (sampled).  Some years after that I met Stevie Kalinich (see My Pop Life #169) who’d written lyrics for two of Dennis Wilson’s songs on the Friends LP (Little Bird & Be Still) and he is now one of my dear friends.  The circle continues…