I Just Wasn't Made for These Times

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"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"
Song by The Beach Boys
from the album Pet Sounds
Released May 16, 1966 (1966-05-16)
Recorded February 14, March 10–April 13, 1966
Studio Gold Star Studios and CBS Columbia Square, Hollywood
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:21
Label Capitol
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Hot Fun in the Summertime"
(1992) Hot Fun in the Summertime1992
"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times"
(1996) I Just Wasn't Made For These Times1996
"Good Vibrations"
(2011) Good Vibrations2011
Cover to 1996 Sub Pop single release
Cover to 1996 Sub Pop single release
Audio sample

"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher for American rock band the Beach Boys about depression and social alienation.[1] Also produced and sung by Wilson, it appears as the eleventh track on their 1966 album Pet Sounds. He described it as "about a guy who was crying out because he thought he was too advanced, and that he'd eventually have to leave people behind." Its chorus features Spanish-sung background vocals: "Oh, ¿cuándo seré? Un día seré" ("When will I be? One day I will be")

The song is an early work of psychedelic rock.[2] Its instrumentation includes harpsichord, muted bass guitar, and a theremin soundalike instrument called the Electro-Theremin.[3] It is the first instance of an Electro-Theremin being used in popular music and the first in rock music to feature a theremin-like instrument.[4][5]


The song was written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. While it is commonly understood that Wilson composed the majority of the music on Pet Sounds, it has been claimed in Steven Gaines' book Heroes and Villains that "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" was one of three songs in which Asher contributed musical ideas rather than acting solely as a co-lyricist; the other two being "Caroline, No" and "That's Not Me".[6]


On the song's meaning, Wilson stated "It's about a guy who was crying out because he thought he was too advanced, and that he'd eventually have to leave people behind. All my friends thought I was crazy to do Pet Sounds."[7] Asher says "In many of the other songs, when Brian would express a feeling, I would say, 'Oh, yes, I've had those feelings,' maybe not in the same way or the same degree, but I understood them. But this one I didn't relate to. It was more trying to interpret what he was feeling than having this joint feeling in our various ways."[5] In reviewer Donald A. Guercio's interpretation: "The lyrics are a first-person chronicle of disillusionment from a narrator who, despite being intelligent, can't find a place where he can comfortably feel like a part of the world."[8] Alternatively, author Charles Granata reads the song as a "plaintive ballad about coming to terms with one's differences".[9] On the relationship between words and music, Guercio elaborates:

The music brings the despair of the lyrics to life with a melody that is lovely and pained all at once: The verses rise and fall in a way that accentuates the yearning tone of the lyrics, and the chorus rapidly accelerates to soaring melodic heights before crashing back down to perfectly capture the song's churning emotions. ... Wilson's pained lead vocal is contrasted with layers of anguished harmonies on the chorus. Its instrumentation is similarly powerful, weaving harpsichord and theremin into a spooky orchestral tapestry, and powerful drumming wrings the maximum dramatic punch from each chorus.[8]

Like other songs on Pet Sounds, there is no drum kit until the chorus.[10] Its chorus features background vocals sung in Spanish: "Oh, ¿cuándo seré? Un día seré" ("When will I be? One day I will be")[11] while Wilson leads with the lyric "sometimes I feel very sad". Each musical bar that follows within the chorus introduces a new contrapuntal melody, where Wilson further adds "ain't found the right thing I can put my heart and soul into" and "people I know don't wanna be where I'm at".[10] Bob Stanley of indie pop outfit Saint Etienne wrote: "Although he was only twenty-three, there was something incredibly old and incredibly melancholy within Brian Wilson. 'Sometimes I feel sad,' the song goes, and no amount of convoluted Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell wordplay is as effective or affecting."[3]

Granata concludes: "The protagonist is desperate to define himself, but is depressed and struggling. Ultimately, the answer to the question—'Where do I fit in?'—lies in the realization that he doesn't."[1][9] Author Jim Fusilli remarked that portions of song recall The Catcher in the Rye.[12] In 2011, Brian reflected: "It was like saying: 'Either I'm too far ahead of my time' or 'I'm not up to my time.' ... [The feeling has] stayed the same ... a little bit, in some ways not ... [Now] I do feel I was made for these times."[13]


Desiring electronically produced sounds for the recording of Pet Sounds, Wilson contacted Paul Tanner to play as a session musician with the mistaken assumption that he was using a theremin for the song's recording. Tanner recalls the sessions being unusual for what he had been familiar to; Wilson forewent notation and instead sung Tanner's part for him to play.[14] Wilson considered the theremin to make frightening, sexually evocative sounds that he associated with a woman's voice and 1940s mystery films.[5]

The instrumental track was recorded on February 14, 1966 at Gold Star Studios, and vocal sessions ran between March 10 through April 13 at CBS Columbia Square. Although sung by Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson was originally intended to sing lead on "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times".[5] Shortly after this track was recorded, Wilson used the Electro-Theremin on sessions for "Good Vibrations" which quickly proceeded.[15]


In 1996, Sub Pop released a stereo mix of The Beach Boys' "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" as a single with a vocal only version of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and with the stereo backing to "Here Today" as the B-side.[16][17] The track's instrumental along with session highlights were released the following year for The Pet Sounds Sessions.

In popular culture[edit]

The episode "Far Away Places" of the American television drama Mad Men features the song as an underscore during an LSD sequence.[18]


The Beach Boys
Additional musicians



  1. ^ a b Martin, Bill (1998). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978 (1. print. ed.). Chicago, Ill. [u.a.]: Open Court. pp. 80–81. ISBN 9780812693683. 
  2. ^ J. DeRogatis, Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Milwaukie, Michigan: Hal Leonard, 2003), ISBN 0-634-05548-8, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b Stanley, Bob (13 September 2013). Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. Faber & Faber. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-571-28198-5. 
  4. ^ Lambert, Philip (2007). Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius. p. 240. ISBN 9781441107480. 
  5. ^ a b c d Elliott, Brad (August 31, 1999). "Pet Sounds Track Notes". beachboysfanclub.com. Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ Gaines, Steven; Hajdu, David (2009). Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780786751044. 
  7. ^ Benci, Jacopo (January 1995). "Brian Wilson interview". Record Collector. UK (185). 
  8. ^ a b c Guarisco, Donald A. "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Granata, Charles L. (2003). Wouldn't It Be Nice: Brian Wilson and the making of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. pp. 106–7. ISBN 9781556525070. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Hickey, Andrew (2011). The Beach Boys On CD: Volume 1 1961-1969. lulu.com. pp. 114–115. ISBN 978-1-4475-4233-9. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g The Beach Boys in Studio Q on YouTube
  12. ^ Fusilli, Jim (February 11, 2005). Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4411-1266-8. 
  13. ^ Art Rock legend Brian Wilson in Studio Q on YouTube
  14. ^ Brend, Mark (2005). Strange Sounds: Offbeat Instruments and Sonic Experiments in Pop (1. ed.). San Francisco, Calif.: Backbeat. ISBN 9780879308551. 
  15. ^ T. Pinch and F. Trocco, Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2004), ISBN 0-674-01617-3, p. 87.
  16. ^ "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times". Sub Pop. Archived from the original on 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  17. ^ Morris, C. (July 6, 1996). "Sub Pop Releases Beach Boys Single". Billboard Magazine. p. 9. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  18. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (April 23, 2012). "Mad Men Recap: They Weren't Made for These Times". Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Pet Sounds (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1999. 

External links[edit]