I don't usually like lyric nodes, and I expect this one to get downvotes, but I think this song is one of the few that genuinely needed to be noded...

Til I Die was Brian Wilson's major contribution to the Beach Boys' 1971 album Surf's Up, and his last major work for the band other than 1977's The Beach Boys Love You album. A deeply personal expression of his feelings about his life and the mental illness that was slowly stopping him from functioning normally, the song feels out of place on that album, which while downbeat is mostly based around an environmental theme.

The lyrics to me are the ultimate expression of loneliness and depression in the pop music form, unusually articulate for Wilson, who usually worked with a lyricist. The song is almost a series of haiku, based around a very simple, yet beautiful, format.

(Lines in italics are sung by Wilson alone, the rest are group harmony. The last line is sung as a round to fade):

I'm a cork on the ocean
Floating over the raging sea
How deep is the ocean?
How deep is the ocean?
I've lost my way, hey hey hey

I'm a rock in a landslide
Falling over the mountainside
How deep is the valley?
How deep is the valley?
It kills my soul, hey hey hey

I'm a leaf on a windy day
Pretty soon I'll be blown away
How long will the wind blow?
How long will the wind blow?
Until I die

These things I'll be until I die

According to Don Was he once asked Wilson how he had come up with such a beautiful yet strange piece of music, and was told by Wilson that he had placed his hands on the piano and then left his outer fingers in the same place and moved his inner fingers. When he found a chord shape that both looked and sounded good, he wrote it down. Such an unorthodox method of composition is what distinguishes a great songwriter from a good one, but what distinguishes the greatest from the great is the little details. Wilson's yearning, yet innocent, 'hey hey hey' at the end of the first two verses is what makes this song for me.

That this song has special meaning for Wilson even today is shown in the fact that he has rerecorded it three times in the last 6 years, on I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, The Wilsons and Live At The Roxy. It is also the opening song in his current live sets, as part of a medley which starts with the Barenaked Ladies' song Brian Wilson. All these versions are worth hearing (as is the extended remixed version on Endless Harmony), but none can top the original.

And that's my only lyric node ;)

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