Track nine from the Beach Boys' 1965 release, The Beach Boys Today!. Also released as the B side to Help Me Rhonda, the second of the four Beach Boys singles to reach number one on the U.S. charts. And, in the opinion of this humble narrator, one of that band's overlooked masterpieces.

Not for the lyrics, of course.

Please don't let me argue anymore
I won't make you worry like before
Can't remember what we fought about
Late late last night we said it was over
I remember when we thought it out
We both had a broken heart

Kiss me Baby
Love to hold you
Kiss me baby
Love to hold you

As I drove away I felt a tear
It hit me I was losing someone near
Told my folks I would be alright
Tossed and I turned, my head was so heavy
And I wondered as it got light
Were you still awake like me?

Kiss me Baby
Love to hold you
Kiss me baby
Love to hold you tight

(The controversial "Kiss a little bit and fight a little bit and and kiss a little bit, oh baby" are also buried beneath the chorus.)

These are written by Beach Boy Mike Love (who later won credit for them in a lawsuit); Brian Wilson wrote the music. Like many Beach Boys lyrics, they're a bit corny (if somewhat poignant). Though they contribute to the overall feel, it is without a doubt the other components -- the trademark Beach Boys vocal harmonizing, and the trademark Brian Wilson songwriting, replete with beautiful, thickly layered instrumentation, sophisticated, mellifluously modulating chords, and a nice melody -- that make this tune.

Of course, in the words of Frank Zappa, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Presumably, speaking about music is similar, but for those without access to the recording, those involved in the recording have provided some insights into Wilson's songwriting process -- and hence his sound. From the liner notes of the CD rerelease of Today/Summer Days:

It was on side two of Today that Brian really began to work in the studio as if he were composing miniature symphonies off the top of heis head, creating increasingly complex arrangements in a matter of hours. In one afternoon, tracks like "Kiss Me Baby" were born; each musical idea developed from just a few chord changes into a full-blown production.

Sound Engineer Chuck Britz, who worked on most of the Beach Boys albums, described how Wilson's tracks were built: "Basically, Brian knew every instrument he wanted to hear and how he wanted to hear it. He had a form in his mind where he had a sound he wanted to hear. What he'd do was call in the musicians one at a time, which was very costly, but still, that's the way he wanted it. We'd start out with a bass or maybe a marimba" then add each instrument, individually, until it was complete. "Usually the horns were the last thing we'd work on."

A couple of years later, Wilson himself talked to a fan magazine about his methods (though it should be mentioned that they had evolved somewhat by this point): "For a month or two, I sat either at a huge Spanish table looking out over the hills, just thinking, or at the piano, playing 'feels'...Feels are musical ideas, riffs, bridges, fragments of themes. A phrase here and there...I wanted to write a song containing more than one level. Eventually, I would like to see longer that the song can be more meaningful...a song can, for instance, have movements, in the same way as a classical concerto, only capsulized."

Like many of the songs on Today, the maturity of songwriting, richness of feeling, and innovative arrangement foreshadow Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson's 1966 masterpiece, considered by many to be one of the greatest pop albums of all time. But Kiss Me Baby's exquisite vocals in many ways supercede the sometimes minimalist ones of that album. It's a damn good song.

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