Friday, May 20, 2016

"Oh, Carol, I know" was...

...the line that lyricist Tony Asher originally wrote that Brian Wilson misheard as "Caroline, No," which became the title of this beautiful ballad from the 1966 Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. The song, a collaboration between Asher and Wilson, was about two women, both coincidentally named Carol, for whom the pair still carried a torch.

The song begins with the melancholy lyrics:

Where did your long hair go
Where is the girl I used to know

Asher's contribution was:

...inspired by his former girlfriend, who had moved to New York and cut her hair: "I had recently broken up with my high school sweetheart who was a dancer and had moved to New York to make the big time on Broadway. When I went east to visit her a scant year after the move, she had changed radically. Yes, she had cut her hair. But she was a far more worldly person, not all for the worse. Anyway, her name was Carol."

For Wilson, the song was about a:

...teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain. He had been obsessed with the girl as a student, rhapsodizing about her beautiful complexion and long dark hair. By 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their hometown of Hawthorne, not far from his Hollywood home. Though also married, Wilson began to call his unrequited high-school love, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later. "He didn't sound drugged or anything, but it was very strange," Mountain told author Peter Ames Carlin. "He'd call at 3 a.m. and want to talk about music. ... But it was nothing inappropriate. It was just a strange thing he was going through, calling and connecting."

Though they didn't meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. "If I saw her today, I'd probably think, 'God, she's lost something,' because growing up does that to people," he explained decades later.

P. S. Those are actually Wilson's dogs, Banana and Louie, barking at the end of the song.

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