If you're a hardcore Beach Boys fan like me, you may already know that Brian Wilson was neither a "rodder" (hot rod enthusiast) nor a surfer (unlike his brother Dennis). But what you may not be aware of is that he was actually afraid of the water. And that's ironic, since the Beach Boys started out as a surfing group.
The song features Brian Wilson's surfing-related lyrics set to the music of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." According to Wilson,
"I was going with a girl called Judy Bowles, and her brother Jimmy was a surfer. He knew all the surfing spots. I started humming the melody to 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and I got fascinated with the fact of doing it, and I thought to myself, 'God! What about trying to put surf lyrics to 'Sweet Little Sixteen's melody? The concept was about, 'They are doing this in this city, and they're doing that in that city' So I said to Jimmy, 'Hey Jimmy, I want to do a song mentioning all the surf spots.' So he gave me a list."
Dale himself was a surfer and wanted his music to reflect the sounds he heard in his mind while surfing. While he is primarily known for introducing the use of guitar reverb that would give the guitar a "wet" sound, which has since become a staple of surf music, it was Dale's staccato picking that was his trademark.
His performances at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California during the summer of 1961, and his regional hit "Let's Go Trippin'" later that year, launched the surf music craze, which he followed up with hits like "Misirlou" (1962).
(The Boys covered both of those on Surfin' U.S.A.)