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
ReleasedMay 16, 1966
RecordedFebruary 11, April 3, 1966
StudioUnited Western Recorders, Hollywood
GenreBaroque pop[1]
Songwriter(s)Brian Wilson, Tony Asher
Producer(s)Brian Wilson

"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. The song was demoed as a wordless chorale.[2]

The song is one of three tracks 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]


Author Geoffrey Himes wrote:

"Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" was a guitar-less ballad that featured Brian singing in a devotional high tenor about the romantic moment when words fail. A string quartet played the minor seventh chords at close intervals, while the tympani boomed and a fat-toned electric bass drifted from the expected root note to create harmonic tensions within the lush sound. When Brian sang in an intimate hush, "Don't talk; take my hand and listen to my heartbeat. Listen! Listen! Listen!" the music demanded that you listen just as closely to its throbbing pulse.[3]


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 this recording for the musicians to give them 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.


Sourced from liner notes included with the 1999 mono/stereo reissue of Pet Sounds.[4]

The Beach Boys

Additional musicians


Elvis Costello has been quoted as saying, "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."[6]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Don't Talk(Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" Archived December 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  2. ^ Laura Tunbridge, The Song Cycle, (Cambridge University Press, 2011), ISBN 0-521-72107-5, p.174.
  3. ^ Himes, Geoffrey. "Surf Music" (PDF). Rock and Roll: An American History. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-25.
  4. ^ Pet Sounds (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1999.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Elliott, Brad (August 31, 1999). "Pet Sounds Track Notes". Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  6. ^ "Musicians on Brian: Elvis Costello". Brian Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  7. ^ Jordan, Matt. "Coast Jumper: "Sutures I" & Beach Boys cover". You Ain't No Picasso. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Steven Padin - Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) (Beach Boys) video". Retrieved 24 December 2012.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]