The Beach Boys - "Time to Get Alone"

by Barry Lenser

15 May 2014

While there are obvious downsides to the kind of discography that the Beach Boys have assembled -- it's dense, lengthy, and larded with inconsistent results -- one of the payoffs deserves special mention: those moments of discovery.
 

You’re half-listening to 20/20, the Boys’ so/so 1969 release, and you’re more-or-less resigned to the lead track, “Do It Again”, doubling as the high point. Then Side Two rolls around, and you find yourself totally caught off guard as beauty strikes in the restful, baroque pop form of “Time to Get Alone”. If you’re unacquainted, change that. “Time to Get Alone” is a dream, right on down the line from Carl’s feathery lead vocal—and the way it contrasts with the up-and-down crunch of the waltz backdrop—to the sumptuously layered arrangement of the chorus to the immaculate production job to the unadorned coda (which is from the extended version; see below).
  
Does it matter that Brian’s lyric is achingly lightweight, envisioning a romantic getaway to the snowy, “pine scented” woods, complete with a toboggan ride? Not with the level of emotional tenderness and studio craftsmanship on display. The overall quality approaches what the Beach Boys were achieving at their creative peak. But in case you need a reminder that the year was 1969, not 1966, the eruptive and dizzying freak-out during the bridge (“so deep and wide!”) should do the trick. Post-Smile weirdness was still alive and kicking.

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