A dear friend of mine, whose friendship I have enjoyed since the first days of Lisa Birnbach’s The Preppy Handbook, had a hilarious habit with me of breaking down the lyrics to various songs.
One of our favorites, was a song by The Beach Boys.
Indulge me as I take you down a suburban parkway on a sultry summer night with the crickets in crescendo as we discuss “I Get Around” which was the band’s first US #1 song.
Round round get around I get around Yeah Get around round round I get around I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town
Basically this means that each of The Beach Boys is a whore. The implication of course being that “getting around” means you get laid. A lot. When a young man in the heat of summer “gets around” it can’t be to simply drive around, that would be idle folly and no self-respecting hawkish or super republican Dad of that time would allow it. No Siree, if your son was gonna dodge the Vietnam War or skip college, they had to do something, even if that meant doing someone. With fuel prices being what they were in California in April 1964 when The Beach Boys first recorded “I Get Around,” at $.30 a gallon, which is equivalent to about $2.14 in 2012 dollars, getting around wasn’t cheap; summer was fleeting and hormones were raging.
Notice the “first person nominative” case which is the height of Ego, the solitary “I”; even though the group sing together the same words (this is done in many cases but not so often today, you don’t have many men singing The Same Words at The Same Time unless they’re in a choir, and well, that’s altogether a different situation) that clearly meant that it was each man for himself. Look out ladies, your man is comin’ to getcha…
The whole “from town to town” vibe is a little unsettling. One of the things that many parents of prospective dates of guys who get around think about when they let their daughter get around with them is “where is this guy from?” If he’s from town to town, that’s a bad sign. Do NOT let your daughter date a guy who’s from “Town-to-Town.”
Get around round round I get around I'm a real cool head Get around round round I get around I'm makin' real good bread
Duh: first rule of being cool: DON’T SAY YOU ARE. These guys know NOTHING. What the what does having a cool head mean other than to suggest that the owner of the cool head is simply pretending to be much cooler than he really is, thus supposedly increasing his odds of getting laid? I can’t see any other way. Of course no one admits to being a total doofus if they’re on the make. That would mean doom.
Regarding the makin’ of real good bread, that could (and probably did) mean that he had a job. How else could he afford to round round get around? Could he have a job in a band? I don’t wanna speculate here, because it’s none of my business, but maybe he was making real good cash off of getting other guys laid, y’know: turnin’ tricks, hookin’ babes, … um, you’ve heard of “Help Me Rhonda,” yeah.
I'm gettin' bugged driving up and down the same old strip I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip My buddies and me are getting real well known Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone
Now, the whole “bugged” thing – I think he’s trying to say that he’s irritated with the same-old same-old of his hometown’s main drag: same ice cream shops, same soda jerks, same grandstand to turn around in front of, same old police officers…. OR… he’s getting the crap kicked out of him by guys who are cooler, bigger and possibly the older brothers or ex-boyfriends of the chicks he’s trying to cruise.
And perhaps the “I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip” means that he is a dork. Yup, that’s it. He’s a dork where he is now and he’s looking for hip kids who don’t know him and his apparent dorkness and is trying to capitalize on that newness, so that he’ll be hip too.
Ok, here’s a conflict, and the first real verbal indication that we are dealing with a group enterprise: “My buddies and me” and “know us” and “leave us”: if he were really in this all alone, he woulda just stuck with the “me” and “I”; but we all know that it takes a team effort to create success and so I ask this: if he and his buddies are getting real well known and the bad guys (other pimps) know them and they leave them alone, WHY ON EARTH WOULD THEY WANT TO LEAVE A PLACE LIKE THAT?! There is no consistency; The Beach Boys are gypsies? Nomads? I don’t know – they seem so deeply confused about who they are and what they want. And who says those who are not them are “bad guys”? Just because the “bad guys” are protecting the young ladies… maybe The Beach Boys are the bad guys. Ever thought of that?!
Perhaps they were on LSD when they wrote this song. Maybe they’re on a bender. All I can think of is that our first-person nominative singular / lead singer is trying to get rid of his dead-weight bandmates when he started the whole stanza with “I’m gettin’…” the whole use of slang, the droppin’ of the -g in “gettin'” is definitely suggestive of somewun not payin’ mush attenshun to hiz frenz. If I were one of his buddies, I’d put a chain on my wallet. Make that two chains.
I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town Get around round round I get around I'm a real cool head Get around round round I get around I'm makin' real good bread Get around round round I get around
Repeat, repeat. Whatever. Now he’s just bragging. Sorta rubbing his good buddies’ faces in his “real good bread” smugness.
I get around Round Get around round round oooo Wah wa ooo Wah wa ooo Wah wa ooo
This “Wah wa ooo” is terrifying. Have you ever heard a chorale of young Californian men “wah wa ooh” at you all night? I have and it’s not easy to forget. The only time it happened was when I was babysitting for a new family that moved on to my street when I was 14. The children were all boys, ranging from 2 years of age to 7 and they never stopped “wah wa ooh”-ing at me until their parents returned. I got three bucks for three hours of tolerating that tribe and its unholy meowing. Yeah, I didn’t know squat about minimum wage. It was the 80s, I was a teenager and I just wanted to get out of my house and snoop in my neighbor’s medicine cabinets and junk drawers.
We always take my car cause it's never been beat And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn't be right To leave their best girl home now on Saturday night
Ok. This is where I HAVE to draw a line. I’ve been there: why does NO ONE ELSE in this group drive? Just because he has the nicest car does not mean that he’s gotta …. ohhhhh ho ho ho ohhh….. I get it. If they drive someone else’s car then he’ll have to walk because the other car would suck. My how soft his wool grows. Isn’t that rich? Do you think the other guys know what a jerk he is?
And he thinks it’s because of his car that they’ve never missed yet with the girls they meet?! Is he NUTS?! It’s because he’s behind the wheel, too snooty to share, too embarrassed to ride in his friend’s storied Skylark, too busy to drive, that the girls ignore him and his friends can score. Y’see, once he stopped his whole “‘I’ get around” and created a partnership, it has meant his decline; his generosity has ushered his fall from cruising cool guyness.
And this bit about not going steady and leaving their best girl home on a Saturday night…. what fresh hell is that? How do they not know, for one nanosecond, that the best girls are not sipping malteds down at the drive-in in another Town-Town with their best guys?! Or let’s take it one step further: how do we not know that everyone here isn’t of legal drinking age and that the best girls aren’t donning plunging necklines and fishnets down at the Canary’s Coal Mine knocking back Manhattans and Mai Tais with stock brokers, vacuum salesmen and lawyers 25 years their senior? Hmmmm? Who’s the best girl then? The one who gets three carats from the guy at the Canary joint that’s who.
I get around Get around round round I get around From town to town Get around round round I get around I'm a real cool head Get around round round I get around I'm makin' real good bread Get around round round I get around I get around Round Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah Round round get around I get around Yeah Get around round round I get around Get around round round I get around Wah wa ooo Get around round round I get around Oooo ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo Get around round round I get around Ahh ooo ooo
Couldn’t read this – your KILLING the Beach Boys for me. I live in ignorant bliss, thank you very much.
i know. i still love them. i can picture you with us though, picking apart the music… : )