The Beach Boys’ Smile – “Fire”
Speaking of little ditties that paint pictures, I’ve been obsessed with the Beach Boys’ Smile album for years. Note I did not say “Brian Wilson’s Smile.” While Brian was definitely a great songwriter and a musical genius, there was so much more to this project than just him. The Wrecking Crew, Van Dyke Parks’s contributions, and the voices of the other Beach Boys (even Mike, and especially Carl) all play such a fantastic role in the sessions and the released songs (“Our Prayer,” “Surf’s Up,” “Wonderful,” “Wind Chimes,” etc) that resulted from recording Smile. When Brian Wilson recorded his version in 2004, while it was great to hear the final version pieced together in full working order, it just wasn’t the same as all that work done for Capitol back in the day.
One piece of Smile that’s rarely heard in a great format is the “Fire” portion, sometimes called “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.” This one actually was not bad in the final 2004 release, but this dude patched together a fantastic version from the Capitol sessions (I think?) that’s almost reminiscent of something Mussorgsky or Tom Waits might do! Enjoy enjoy enjoy.