“When you listen to Pet Sounds, use earphones in the dark, and you can hear everything.”
Though I’ve long known that Pet Sounds is considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded, it was not until I watched a film called Love & Mercy that I ever gave the record a proper listen.
The movie depicts two eras in the life of the Beach Boys’ musical genie Brian Wilson. The mid-60s version, played by Paul Dano, is a young man overflowing with sonic inspiration, and hints at the shadow that will eventually swallow Wilson for a while. John Cusack plays the man in the 1980s, when he has become zombified by a mad doctor who badly mistreats Wilson’s mental disease.
While both eras of the picture are compelling, it was the sections that focused on the Pet Sounds sessions that intrigued me the most and made me seek out these songs. I now listen to the album on repeat on my long walk to work, letting it’s whimsical melancholy wash over me like a harmonic ocean.
The movie is worth seeing if only to give you a chance to hear life with new ears.