Do You Like Worms?

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"Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock)"
Song by The Beach Boys from the album The Smile Sessions
Released October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
Recorded October 18, 1966 (1966-10-18)–January 5, 1967 (1967-01-05); United Western Recorders and CBS Columbia Square, Los Angeles
Genre Psychedelic rock, avant-garde
Length 3:28
Label Capitol
Writer Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks
Producer Brian Wilson
The Smile Sessions track listing
Music sample
"Roll Plymouth Rock"
Song by Brian Wilson from the album Brian Wilson Presents Smile
Released September 28, 2004 (2004-09-28)
Recorded April 2004, Sunset Sound Recorders
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:48
Label Nonesuch
Producer Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson Presents Smile track listing
"Heroes and Villains"
(2)
"Roll Plymouth Rock"
(3)
"Barnyard"
(4)

"Do You Like Worms?" (sometimes erroneously referred to as "Do You Dig Worms?")[1] is a song written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks in 1966 for The Beach Boys' album Smile. The original, unfinished recording of "Do You Like Worms?" was first published in 1993 for Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys, a box set which included some unreleased Smile material, and then again in 2011 for The Smile Sessions. In 2004, Wilson performed a live version of Smile with this song under the new title "Roll Plymouth Rock". It deviates from the original Beach Boys arrangement significantly by containing never-before-recorded lyrics and a differently arranged song structure.

Biographer Jon Stebbins stated that the track "epitomizes the unfinished and schizophrenic nature of Smile. Just the fact that a Beach Boys album almost appeared in 1967 with a song called 'Do You Like Worms?' is a mindblower."[1] The song has since been covered by a variety of artists, including The Olivia Tremor Control, Ant-Bee, and Secret Chiefs 3.

Composition[edit]

"Do You Like Worms?" was imagined as a lyrical journey across the United States from coast to coast; relating mostly to Manifest Destiny and westward expansion. According to co-writer Van Dyke Parks, "It's about bringing this Euro-sensibility into the taming of the American continent, from Plymouth Rock to Waikiki."[2] It is seen through the eyes of a protagonist named the "Bicycle Rider".[3] Several couplets were written by Parks in 1966, but only few were ever recorded.[4] Some of these were later resurrected for future re-recordings by Wilson:

Once upon the Sandwich Islands
The social structure steamed upon Hawaii

Ribbon of concrete / Bicycle Rider — just see what you've done, done
To the church of the American Indians

"Ribbon of concrete" is a negative image variant to the lyric "that ribbon of highway" from the American folk song "This Land Is Your Land".[3] The "Bicycle Rider" lyric has been established as a reference to the traditional standard "See See Rider,"[5] and to the "Bicycle Rider Back" playing cards printed by the United States Playing Card Company during the 19th century.[3] The song's closing lyric "wahala lu lei" refers to a Hawaiian Thanksgiving prayer.[3] One ultimately unused couplet follows:

And as we returned to the East or West Indies
We always got them confused[5][nb 1]

The song is an extension of the composition "Heroes and Villains", recorded during the Smile sessions. "Do You Like Worms?" is in strophic form, following the pattern ABABCB' in mixes prepared by Brian Wilson during Smile assemblies. The A sections featured a short instrumental section where the melody is carried by the timpani followed by the lyrics "rock, rock, roll, Plymouth Rock roll over" in two-part harmony over the bass guitars. The B section is referred to on tape labels as "Bicycle Rider", and it consists of the repetitive "Heroes and Villains" motif played on harpsichord. At the end of the B' section, the harpsichord breaks down, only to start up again. The C section has Brian singing fake Hawaiian lyrics over backing vocals by the rest of the band and a sparse backing track.[6][7]

Recording[edit]

The instrumental tracks for the A and C sections of the song were recorded on October 18, 1966 (1966-10-18), at United Western Recorders. Brian also recorded some of his vocals at that session. The Beach Boys vocals were recorded at Columbia Studios, on December 21, 1966. The B sections of the song were recorded during sessions for "Heroes and Villains".[7][8] After a fuzz bass was overdubbed on January 5, 1967 (1967-01-05), "Do You Like Worms?" was abandoned and never worked on again by the Beach Boys.

Release[edit]

In 2004, Wilson re-recorded the song under the new title "Roll Plymouth Rock" with almost all of its original lyrics. When asked about the name change from "Do You Like Worms?", Wilson explained, "Because we wanted something a little more appropriate, you know? Something that sounded more appropriate."[9] When asked in 2004, Parks could not remember where the title had originated from, speculating, "I have a feeling it was maybe an engineer, or maybe Brian, maybe Mike Love. There aren't any other words in the song that relate to that title."[10] In 2013, Al Jardine stated: "I kept yelling at people over at Capitol that there’s not one goddamn lyric about worms on this track. It’s called 'Roll Plymouth Rock'. I defy you to find anything about worms on there. But they wanted to name it 'Do You Like Worms'. Brian added parentheses on his album to make it clear. [sic] I’m sure that there was song that Brian and Van Dyke did do called 'Do You Like Worms' that they didn't even play for us. Anyhow, I think what’s there on the original version of Smile is totally cool, and I do like the unfinished nature of it. (laughs) It brings back a lot of really good memories."[11]

Personnel[edit]

The Smile Sessions[edit]

According to Keith Badman:[12]

The Beach Boys
Additional musicians

Brian Wilson Presents Smile[edit]

Additional musicians

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Frank Holmes: "And then there's a piece called "Ribbon of concrete, see what you done done", which became "Bicycle rider, see what you done done". It came from the old standard "CC Rider, see what you done done". I remember it went on, "See what you done done, to the church of the American Indian..." And there was a last part on there that went something like: 'Having returned to the East or West Indies - we always got them confused...' It had to do with the white man's advancement."
Citations
  1. ^ a b Stebbins, Jon (2011). The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left to Know About America's Band. ISBN 9781458429148. 
  2. ^ Priore 2004, p. 66.
  3. ^ a b c d Priore 2004, p. 68.
  4. ^ Lambert, 2007. p. 273
  5. ^ a b Endless Summer Quarterly. March 1997. 
  6. ^ Lambert, Philip: Inside the Music of Brian Wilson, page 273. Continuum Publishing, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Shenk, Lou. "A Smile Primer". The Smile Shop. Archived from the original on 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Doe, Andrew G.: "GIGS66." Bellagio 10452. Retrieved on 2008-12-12.
  9. ^ "Ear Candy Mag interview with Brian Wilson (10-16-04)". 
  10. ^ Priore 2004, pp. 67-68.
  11. ^ Sharp, Ken (April 2, 2013). "Al Jardine of the Beach Boys: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About “SMiLE” (Interview)". Rock Cellar Magazine. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Badman 2004, pp. 152–53.
Bibliography