Mike Love, Carnie Wilson and others talk about continuing the band’s legacy with a new collaborative project between original members and their children
The Beach Boys first formed six decades ago, but they’re still finding new ways to present their music to the world.
Their latest release, California Music (out on April 23 via Omnivore Recordings) features a re-recording of their sunny 1970 song “Add Some Music to Your Day.”
And this time, it’s a collaboration between Beach Boys Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Bruce Johnston (and longtime associate Jeffrey Foskett), along with several of the band members’ children, including Wendy and Carnie Wilson; Christian, Hayleigh and Ambha Love; Matt Jardine; and Justyn Wilson.
Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.
“I co-wrote it with Brian [Wilson], so I have a fondness for the song, and it’s a sweet message: literally, the world could come together as one if everybody would add some music to their day. So it’s positivity in harmony,” says Beach Boys member Mike Love about “Add Some Music to Your Day” during a recent phone call from his Lake Tahoe home. “The fact that our children, decades later, came along and added their voices to it, gave it an extra special layer of sweetness.”
Carnie Wilson (Brian Wilson’s daughter, and also a member of the group Wilson Phillips with her sister Wendy) says she was thrilled to participate in this project. “We did a whole album with the music of our parents,” she says during a call from her L.A. home, referring to the 2012 Wilson Phillips album Dedicated. “Whenever there’s an opportunity, I can’t wait to sing Beach Boys songs onstage and in the studio. They’re the most special songs in the world to me, and to many other people. So any chance, I’m excited to do it. ‘Add Some Music to Your Day’ is just so precious. I don’t know how else to describe the song: it’s precious.”
VIDEO: California Music “Add Some Music To Your Day”
This new version came about when The Beach Boys’ historian and documentarian, David Beard, was working on the summer 2020 edition of Endless Summer Quarterly, the band’s official newsletter. That issue focused on the group’s 1970 album Sunflower, which included “Add Some Music to Your Day.”
“What’s unique about that album is the cover, which features the band members on a golfing green with their children,” Beard says, on the same call with Love. As he studied that photo, Beard had an epiphany: “They were just mere toddlers then in 1970, but they all turned out to be musical. So it occurred to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be really great if we could somehow combine the parents with the children on a re-recording?”
Beard specifically chose “Add Some Music to Your Day,” he says, “because it’s a beautiful recording, and the third line of the first verse is, ‘The world could come together as one, and that was a really profound line to me. It wasn’t just that we were dealing with the pandemic – it’s also, we were seeing cultural issues building, and we were seeing political divide. So the phrase and the idea really took on greater meaning.”
Beard enlisted Rob Bonfiglio (Carnie Wilson’s husband, and also a member of The Brian Wilson Band) to arrange and produce the track. On the same call with his wife, Bonfiglio explains that it was a painstaking process: “The voices were added slowly, one by one,” he says. “People would record their parts and send them to me. There were a lot of ingredients involved. The analogy would be, it was like a big cake. Put too many decorations on the cake, and the cake collapses, so you really have to find that balance and find the right spot for every little piece.” Still, he adds, “It really came together nicely. It was a really enjoyable project.”
Looking back at how “Add Some Music to Your Day” was originally written, Love says, “I went back to the origins of when we would first sing together at church. Brian Wilson and I used to go to Wednesday night youth night at Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church in the Baldwin Hills of California, about a mile from where I grew up. We would go and we’d sing the church songs. Walking home from there, we would sing Everly Brothers songs and doo-wop songs and early rock and roll songs. So that began the song: it was just telling an autobiographical story of music as we experienced it growing up.”
Love says that this songwriting teamwork was always a crucial element of the Beach Boys’ success.
“Well, ‘Surfin’’ was the first song my cousin Brian and I wrote together, and it came out on the radio back in 1961 and it became a local hit,” he says. “Then the next record was ‘Surfin’ Safari,’ which was a bit bigger hit, and then ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ was even bigger. A lot of people struggle and work for ten years and finally got a break. We never struggled. We always had great luck. Of course, Brian was brilliant with music. He’d sit down on the piano and figure out some chord progressions, and I’d come up with concepts and lyrics, so it was good partnership there.”
AUDIO: The Beach Boys “Surfin'”
The Beach Boys have sold more than 100 million albums so far, making them one of the most successful rock groups of all time. Love says he’s grateful for this, as it saved him from going down a very different path in life. “My father and grandfather started a kitchen equipment company, Love Sheet Metal,” he says. After working there for a while, he decided focus on The Beach Boys instead. “My dad said, ‘What happens if it doesn’t work out in the music business?’ I said, ‘We’ll all be back here working with metal, I guess.’ So far, I haven’t had to go back!”
This passion for music has been handed down to the next generation, with almost all of the Beach Boys’ offspring going into music careers themselves. With Wilson Phillips, for example, Wendy and Carnie Wilson topped the charts with the hits “Hold On,” “Release Me,” and “You’re In Love.” Carnie Wilson says there was never any doubt that she’d join the “family business”: “It was always about singing and harmony. It always has been, and it always will be. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to be part of this legacy and the family. I know this music will live on forever and I’m glad to be a part of it in any way,” she says.
“It’s a blessing to be able to do what we’ve done for a lifetime, even as the decades go on,” Love says. “We’re nearing a 60th anniversary in a year or so, and we’re still getting offers to go all over the place. Europe and Australia, all over the United States and Canada. It’s a blessing to be able to do, 60 years later, what you started out doing as young guys.”
Part of the proceeds from “Add Some Music to Your Day” will be donated to the charity Feeding America. For more information, visit feedingamerica.org