“They Got All of Our Hopes up for This New Beach Boys Album So I Might as Well Write about ‘Country Air’”

Where is the original center of disaffection? Something tells me it lies in San Francisco… that Green Day rock opera American Idiot is just too weird, with all those subplots and fictional characters and “10 cups of coffee in the underbelly” and of course suicide.
Disaffection, for anybody fortunately ill-versed in such things, is the inability to truly feel, or truly derive inspiration. When Billie Joe Armstrong lashed out so vehemently against… um, something… the evils he was perceiving were things like “lust” and the unfeeling “underbelly” of the city, where things apparently move fast and with no identity or distinction. It’s a “faceless” composite that people are living in, in other words, Tennessee Williams then having complained about a “spiritual death ray” which ran through everything in Hollywood, hence driving him away from movies.
Please forgive your kind author for this seemingly unrelated introduction… I’m doing my best to show the irony of how a supremely gripping and gravitating piece of music by one of the most popular bands of all time could be as simple as just a love song about breathing in the air. The fact of the West Coast being so disillusioned, so driven to sin and rape (if only of the mental variety), only serves to bolster, too, The Beach Boys’ achievement in “Country Air,” which features, in total, high hat, cymbal, bass guitar, piano and one he** of a mind-blowing genus of spot-on vocals, foreground and background.
If you were to ask me if this were the quintessential Beach Boys song, on one hand, I’d say it’s good enough to be, with its pristine and mastered vocal interplays and easy sublimity. The thing is… Christ, it’s called “Country Air.” It’s hardly the type of rebellious romper that’s gonna get the kids ready to egg houses or race their cars on a weekend.
Even further adding to the irony is the fact that the version I noticed, on this patchy but certainly gargantuan 1967 – Live Sunshine collection on Spotify, was performed in Detroit, home of 8 Mile where they make fun of “Sweet Home Alabama.” It’s not exactly a country-friendly sociological landscape up there and this may very well have to do (either this exact setting or the pervading aversion to all things rural and pastoral in popular rock music) with why “Country Air” has been pushed under the rug all these years and not considered a Beach Boys classic. He**, I have Canned Heat’s “Going up the Country” ranked third on my Dolby Radio list, so I’m hardly deserving of a lecture about all this. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that culture can sometimes get in the way of the fruition of great music, or great music audiences, as it were, in America, and here’s my attempt to steer “Country Air” back out of this murky realm of the stigmatized.

Leave a Reply