Friends (The Beach Boys album)

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Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released June 24, 1968 (1968-06-24)
Recorded February 29–April 13, 1968 (1968-04-13)
Studio Brian Wilson's home studio and ID Sound, Los Angeles
Genre Rock, lo-fi
Length 25:30
Label Capitol
Producer The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys chronology
Wild Honey
Best of The Beach Boys Vol. 3
Singles from Friends
  1. "Friends" / "Little Bird"
    Released: April 8, 1968

Friends is the fourteenth studio album by American rock band the Beach Boys, released on June 24, 1968 through Capitol Records. It was initially met with a mild critical reception and peaked at number 126 on the US Billboard charts for what was then group's worst chart performance to date. In the UK, the album peaked at number 13.

Many of the album's songs were inspired by Transcendental Meditation and the group's recent interactions with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was the third consecutive album to credit "the Beach Boys" as producer instead of Brian Wilson, and the first to feature significant songwriting contributions from Dennis Wilson. One single was issued from the album: "Friends" (backed with "Little Bird"), reaching number 47 in the US.


On December 15, 1967, the Beach Boys encountered Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a UNICEF Variety Gala in Paris, France. Enchanted by his teachings, Mike Love, along with other musicians including Donovan and the Beatles, journeyed in February to Rishikesh, India, to study Transcendental Meditation under the Maharishi's guidance for two weeks.[1][2][3] In his absence, the remaining Beach Boys – Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston – along with selected members of the Wrecking Crew began recording the album at Brian Wilson's home studio. In mid-March, Love returned from his TM retreat and contributed to the subsequent vocal sessions, with leads on the brief "Meant for You", which opens the album, and "Anna Lee, the Healer," which was inspired by his time in India.

Music and style[edit]

Brian Chidester called Friends one "in a series of lo-fi albums" by the Beach Boys, and was recorded primarily at Brian Wilson's home studio.[4]

It was the first Beach Boys album to feature significant songwriting contributions from group members besides Brian.[5] "Friends" was arranged and co-written by Brian, but was also credited to Carl, Dennis, and Al Jardine.[5] "Wake the World" was the first original songwriting collaboration between Brian and Jardine, and also once named by Brian as his favorite song on the album: "It was so descriptive to how I felt about the dramatic change over from day to night."[5] "Passing By" is wordless, but was originally written with the lyric "While walking down the avenue / I stopped to have a look at you / And then I saw / You’re just passing by".[5]

"Little Bird" was written by Dennis Wilson and Stephen Kalinich with uncredited contributions from Brian.

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The bridge section of the song "Little Bird" incorporates elements of "Child Is Father of the Man", a then-unreleased song from the aborted Smile.[4] Brian received no credit on the song "Little Bird," allegedly[by whom?] so that Dennis Wilson and Stephen Kalinich could collect more royalties.[citation needed] Brian said: "Dennis gave us 'Little Bird' which blew my mind because it was so full of spiritualness. He was a late bloomer as a music maker. He lived hard and rough but his music was as sensitive as anyone's.[5] "Busy Doin' Nothin'", a bossa nova song, was one of several autobiographic slice-of-life songs written by Brian in this era, and also a singular example of him enlisting outside session musicians as he had between 1964 and 1966.[5] Music historian Peter Reum commented that portions of the penultimate track "Diamond Head" are "reminiscent of some of the more pictorial music of Smile."[5]

For the album's liner notes, Brian wrote a short essay describing his feelings about the album:

The songwriting cycle for the Friends album project came quickly to me. I was, by then, an experienced song writer and I knew what each basic key meant to me. By this time I had a good thing rollin’ in my head. The bad things that had happened to me had taken their toll and I was free to find out just how much I had grown through the emotional pain that had come my way. I, even more, had spiritual love high in mind for my fans and people in general.…I think that the Beach Boys’ sound was evolving right along. I had developed a 6th sense for everybody’s voices and we could all harmonize this way. When we all sing together I feel a spiritual closeness. Harmony usually means notes that are perfectly and mathematically related to each other, like 1, 3, and 5. This is the basic chord of music. Then there’s 1, 3, 5, and 7. This is a more complex chord. It gets much more complex than that, but I try to keep it sounding simple, no matter how complex it really is.[5]

The album was the first Beach Boys release in true stereo since 1964's The Beach Boys' Christmas Album and was the first time a Beach Boys album had not been issued in mono.[original research?]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [6]
Blender 4/5 stars [7]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars [8]

Friends reached number 13 on UK charts[citation needed] but was not as successful in the US, reaching a peak of number 126, an indication of the band's declining popularity at the time.[5] The band infamously cancelled a show at Singer Bowl in New York after drawing 800 people to the 16,000 capacity venue.[3]

The album has gone on to receive generally favorable reviews. Rolling Stone wrote: "If you can get past sappy wannabe-hippie tracks such as "Wake the World" and "Transcendental Meditation", the album is gorgeous, with standout moments including "Meant for You", one of Mike Love’s finest vocals, and Brian’s "Busy Doin' Nothin'", a samba shuffle in which Wilson details his homebound life."[8] AllMusic's Richie Unterberger wrote: "The production and harmonies remained pleasantly idiosyncratic, but there was little substance at the heart of most of the songs. The irony was that Smile had collapsed, in part, because some of the Beach Boys felt that Wilson's increasingly avant-garde leanings would lose their pop audience; yet by the time of Friends, the Beach Boys had done a pretty good job of losing most of their audience by retreating to a less experimental, more group-based approach."[6]

Live performances[edit]

None of the songs from Friends became regulars in Beach Boys sets, making it one of the least-played albums on live tours. However, six songs from the album have been performed at some point by either The Beach Boys, Brian or California Saga (a band made up of the Beach Boys' children). These include "Friends",[9] "Anna Lee, The Healer", "Meant for You", "Wake the World", "Busy Doin' Nothin'", and "Little Bird". "Wake the World" was later released on the band's Live in London album, while a live version of "Little Bird" is featured on the band's Made in California box set.[9]

Unreleased remake[edit]

By the early 1970s, Wilson's reputation suffered as a result of his purported eccentricities, and he quickly became known as a commercial has-been who record labels feared.[10] When friend Stanley Shapiro persuaded Wilson to rewrite and rerecord a number of Beach Boys songs in order to reclaim his legacy, he contacted fellow songwriter Tandyn Almer for support. The trio then spent a month reworking cuts from Friends.[11] As Shapiro handed demo tapes to A&M Records executives, they found the product favorable before they learned of Wilson and Almer's involvement, and proceeded to veto the idea.[12] The Friends remakes were "Passing By", "Wake the World", "Be Still", and the album's title track.[4]

Track listing[edit]

The original Australian release of Friends had "Good Vibrations" replace "Diamond Head" on side two and the Japanese release of Friends added "Do It Again" as the first song on side two.[citation needed]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Meant for You"   Brian Wilson/Mike Love Love 0:38
2. "Friends"   B. Wilson/Carl Wilson/Dennis Wilson/Al Jardine C. Wilson 2:30
3. "Wake the World"   B. Wilson/Jardine B. Wilson/C. Wilson 1:28
4. "Be Here in the Mornin'"   B. Wilson/C. Wilson/Love/Jardine Jardine/B. Wilson/C. Wilson 2:16
5. "When a Man Needs a Woman"   B. Wilson/D. Wilson/C. Wilson/Jardine/Steve Korthof/Jon Parks B. Wilson 2:06
6. "Passing By"   B. Wilson B. Wilson/C. Wilson/Jardine (wordless) 2:23
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Anna Lee, the Healer"   B. Wilson/Love Love 1:51
2. "Little Bird"   D. Wilson/Steve Kalinich D. Wilson 1:57
3. "Be Still"   D. Wilson/Kalinich D. Wilson 1:22
4. "Busy Doin' Nothin'"   B. Wilson B. Wilson 3:04
5. "Diamond Head"   Al Vescovo/Lyle Ritz/Jim Ackley/B. Wilson Instrumental 3:37
6. "Transcendental Meditation"   B. Wilson/Love/Jardine B. Wilson 1:49


Partial credits derived from David Leaf's 1990 CD liner notes,[5] except where otherwise noted.

The Beach Boys
Additional musicians

Sales chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1968 UK Top 40 Album Chart 13
1968 US Billboard 200 Albums Chart 126[not in citation given]
UK Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1968 "Friends" UK Top 40 Single Chart 25
US Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1968 "Friends" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 47[not in citation given]

Chart information courtesy of Allmusic and other music databases.[13][not in citation given]


  1. ^ "Mike Love interview". Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Doe, Andrew G. (2012). "GIGS67". Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Doe, Andrew G. (2012). "GIGS68". Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Chidester, Brian (March 7, 2014). "Busy Doin' Somethin': Uncovering Brian Wilson's Lost Bedroom Tapes". Paste. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leaf, David (1990). Friends / 20/20 (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ a b "The Beach Boys | Bio, Pictures, Videos". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  9. ^ a b "The Beach Boys Tour Statistics". Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 172.
  11. ^ Carlin 2006, pp. 172–173.
  12. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 173.
  13. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.