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A Close Listen


Side Two, Track Three:

Wind Chimes


Like "Vegetables" and "Wonderful" this is a segment extracted from the flow on Smile and refashioned into a stand alone track. Of those three, "Wind Chimes" gets the most intense overhaul, but stays true to the Hippies At Home spirit and basic structure of the original.


While the previous track plays it straight with the singing, the overhaul here, and departure from previous Beach Boys recording norms comes in the vocals. The lead veers in and out of nearly but not quite over the top whispering-in-your-ear breathy and intimate, but not sexy. The subject, after all, is wind chimes. The chorus or group response shifts in natural pitch and tone and by mechanical distortion, from speeding up the tape ala "She's Goin' Bald" to slowing it down and applying and removing echo.


The organ drone appears yet again, this time as a sort of lead instrument, opening the track and then mixed up to the front to punctuate the ending of the first verse. But none of this eccentric vocal or instrumental variation is confrontational. Instead, it recreates the experience of the subject at hand. Watching and listening to some wind chimes. Probably after a few tokes.


Even the sound effects disruption at one minute and 25 seconds fits as the sort of jolt that can be a part of a wind chimes appreciation session. Unlike the instrumental disruption that appears at almost the same time in both Smile originals, this one ends quickly. We return to the wind chimes. It's a break, but a humorous one. A tear can roll down your cheek when listening to wind chimes, and the mood can get broken, and then you can go back to listening some more. That's not in Smile.


After all these uncommon modulations the track concludes with an absolutely beautiful wordless harmony vocal not unrelated to "Our Prayer" or the opening of "In The Parking Lot" or "A Young Man Is Gone." Followed by the equally touching "whispering wind" mixed down half minute coda. As if to say, all joking aside, it's been a beautiful afternoon.


If "Good Vibrations" places the listener inside the experience it sings about in three and half minutes, "Wind Chimes" does the same, more modestly, in two and a half minutes. This track is not about listening to wind chimes. It is listening to wind chimes. The distortions are a part of the reality, a beautiful reality. And therein lies the difference between a put down and a lack of pretense.


Side Two, Track Four:

Gettin' Hungry