Vegetables (song)

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"Vegetables"
Song by The Beach Boys from the album Smiley Smile
Released September 18, 1967 (1967-09-18)
Recorded October 1966 (1966-10)–June 1967 (1967-06). Gold Star Studios, Sunset Sound Recorders, and CBS Columbia Square, Hollywood
Genre Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop
Length 2:07
Label Brother/Capitol
Writer
Producer Brian Wilson
Smiley Smile track listing
Music sample
"Vega-Tables"
Vega-Tables cover.jpg
The cover for the bonus "Vega-Tables" 7" vinyl packaged with The Smile Sessions box set uses original 1966 artwork by Frank Holmes.
Song by The Beach Boys from the album The Smile Sessions
Released October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
Recorded April 1967 (1967-04)
Length 3:49
Label Capitol
Writer
  • Brian Wilson
  • Van Dyke Parks
Producer Brian Wilson
The Smile Sessions track listing
"Mama Says"
Song by The Beach Boys from the album Wild Honey
Released December 18, 1967 (1967-12-18)
Recorded November 1967 (1967-11), Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco
Genre Barbershop
Length 1:05
Label Capitol
Writer
Producer The Beach Boys
Wild Honey track listing

"Vegetables" (originally conceived as "Vega-Tables") is a song written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks for the American rock band the Beach Boys. It was released on their 1967 album Smiley Smile with Al Jardine and Brian Wilson on lead vocals. A discarded bridge section from "Vega-Tables" was later recycled as the a cappella "Mama Says" on their 1967 album Wild Honey, featuring heavily syncopated vocals by the Beach Boys.[1]

Composition[edit]

The song was composed in 1966 and first attempted during the aborted Smile sessions. Jules Siegel has said that while using marijuana with Wilson and the "Beach Boys marijuana-consumption squad" Michael Vosse mused at how violence in their "vegetative" state could not be achieved, provoking laughter and further discussion of being a vegetable. Siegel said that this encounter was what inspired Wilson to write the song.[2] David Leaf has said the song was based on Wilson's reported health obsession at the time.[3] Wilson later[when?] said, "I want to turn people on to vegetables, good natural food, organic food. Health is an important element in spiritual enlightenment. But I do not want to be pompous about it, so we will engage in a satirical approach."[4] "Vega-Tables" was envisioned to fulfill the Earth part of "The Elements" suite devised for Smile.[4]

Its lyrics are replete with wordplay. One example appearing in demo versions of the song is the lyric "cornucopious" which can be heard as "corn-a-copious". Original versions of "Vega-Tables" notably feature an interpolated section after the verses involving Barbershop-style vocal harmonies sung by the Beach Boys as they recited the two couplets opened by the jazz scat lyric "mama says":

Eat a lot, sleep a lot
Brush 'em like crazy

Run a lot, do a lot
Never be lazy

After the shelving of that project, it was re-arranged for its eventual release on Smiley Smile, as were the songs "Heroes and Villains", "Wind Chimes" and "Wonderful".[3]

Recording[edit]

Recording for "Vega-Tables"/"Vegetables" spanned from October 17, 1966 (1966-10-17) through June 15, 1967 (1967-06-15).[5] All versions of the song except for "Mama Says" feature the novel use of raw vegetable chewing as percussion.[3] During an April session for "Vegetables", the version found on The Smile Sessions, Paul McCartney joined the Beach Boys in the studio.[3] Al Jardine remembers that:

The night before a big tour, I was out in the studio recording the vocal [for "Vegetables"] when, to my surprise, Paul McCartney walked in and joined Brian at the console. And, briefly, the two most influential musical Geminis in the world had a chance to work together. I remember waiting for long periods of time between takes to get to the next section or verse. Brian [seemed to have] lost track of the session. Paul would come on the talkback and say something like "Good take, Al."[3]

During November 1967, the long-running sessions for "Vega-Tables" were revisited for the last time as the closing track "Mama Says" on Wild Honey (1967). This version was an extended re-recording of the unused "Vega-Tables" interpolation mentioned above.

Variations[edit]

In 1993, the initial version recorded as "Vega-Tables" for the Smile sessions was finally given an official release, along with a slew of other Smile material, on the Good Vibrations boxset. In 2011, many composite versions were made available on The Smile Sessions. A 1993 live performance of the song was released in 2013 for the compilation Made in California with Carl Wilson and Al Jardine on lead vocals.

Personnel[edit]

"Vegetables"
"Vega-Tables"
"Mama Says"
  • The Beach Boys – vocals

Covers[edit]

Homages[edit]

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention recorded a parody of the song entitled "Call Any Vegetable" on Absolutely Free (1968).[7] "Receptacle for the Respectable" from the album Rings Around the World (2001) by Super Furry Animals also features Paul McCartney chewing celery and carrots.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Badman 2004, p. 188.
  2. ^ Peet, Preston; Siegal, Jules (1 January 2004). "The Last Word On Drugs". Under the Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs (First ed.). New York, United States: Disinfo. ISBN 1932857001. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Leaf, David. "Smiley Smile liner notes". Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Badman 2004, p. 160.
  5. ^ Doe, Andrew G. "GIGS67". esquarterly.com. Retrieved 27 July 2013.  Doe, Andrew G. "GIGS66". esquarterly.com. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  6. ^ The Beach Boys Deluxe Box Set Smile Sessions book, Marilyn Wilson-Rutheford, July 22, 2011, Pg. 38.
  7. ^ a b Priore, Domenic (2005). Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece. London: Sanctuary. ISBN 1860746276. 
  8. ^ "Sir Paul eats with the Animals". April 10, 2001. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
Sources

External links[edit]