Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)

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"Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)"
Song by The Beach Boys from the album Pet Sounds
Released May 16, 1966
Recorded February 11, April 3, 1966
Western Studios[1]
Genre Baroque pop[2]
Length 2:53
Label Capitol
Composer Wilson/Asher
Producer Brian Wilson
Pet Sounds track listing

"Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It is the fourth track on the album Pet Sounds. Like the majority of songs on Pet Sounds, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" is about a melodic and introspective view on desperation and a crumbling romance.[3] The song started off as a wordless chorale.[4]

"Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" is one of three songs on Pet Sounds where Brian is the only Beach Boy performing. On the line "Listen to my heart...beat", Brian stated: "I felt very deeply about that line. One of the sweetest songs I ever sang. I have to say I'm proud of it. The innocence of youth in my voice, of being young and childlike. I think that's what people liked."[citation needed]


There were several early attempts at recording the song, including Brian playing the instrumental on an acoustic piano. Later he recorded a multitracked, instrumental a capella demo of himself singing all parts; this was released in the 1990 CD remaster, which erroneously claimed it was the entire band recording a scrapped overdub, as "Unreleased Backgrounds." Carol Kaye recalls Wilson playing the musicians this recording in order to give the musicians a feel for the song.

The first real attempt at recording the song was at a session held at 9am on February 11, 1966 at Western Studios in Hollywood, California. The session - engineered by Chuck Britz and produced by Brian Wilson - saw the recording of the basic instrumental track as well as Wilson's lead vocal. The song is one of the few Beach Boys records that features no backing vocals. However, a session on October 13 of the previous year did see backing vocals recorded, although it is unclear on whether or not they were ever to be included. A string overdub was later recorded on April 3, 1966 again at Western Studios although this time with H. Bowen David engineering the session.


The Beach Boys
Additional musicians


Elvis Costello has been quoted as saying, "Last summer, I heard 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)' played on the cello. It sounded beautiful and sad, just as it does on Pet Sounds. So now you know, if all the record players in the world get broken tomorrow, these songs could be heard a hundred years from now."[5]

Linda Ronstadt covered the song on her 1993 album Winter Light. Anne Sofie von Otter covers the song on her disc with Elvis Costello, "For the Stars."

San Francisco indie band Coast Jumper covered "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" on their debut album Grand Opening.[6]

The Reign of Kindo's drummer Steven Padin recorded a cover version for his debut album Out Of The Silent Nest[7]


  1. ^ Elliott, Brad (August 31, 1999). "Pet Sounds Track Notes". Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Don't Talk(Put Your Head on My Shoulder)". Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  3. ^ Wayne Wadhams, David Nathan, Susan Gedutis Lindsay, Inside the hits, (Berklee Press, 2001), ISBN 0-634-01430-7, p.92.
  4. ^ Laura Tunbridge, The Song Cycle, (Cambridge University Press, 2011), ISBN 0-521-72107-5, p.174.
  5. ^ "Musicians on Brian: Elvis Costello". Brian Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ Jordan, Matt. "Coast Jumper: "Sutures I" & Beach Boys cover". You Ain't No Picasso. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Steven Padin - Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) (Beach Boys) video". Retrieved 24 December 2012. 

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