Look (Song for Children)

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"Look (Song for Children)"
Song by The Beach Boys
from the album The Smile Sessions
Released October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
Recorded August 12, 1966 (1966-08-12); June 18, 1971 (1971-06-18)
Length 2:31
Label Capitol
Songwriter(s) Brian Wilson
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Smile Sessions track listing
"Look (Song for Children)"
"Child Is Father of the Man"
"Song for Children"
Song by Brian Wilson
from the album Brian Wilson Presents Smile
Released September 28, 2004 (2004-09-28)
Recorded 2004, Sunset Sound Recorders
Length 2:16
Label Nonesuch
Songwriter(s) Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson Presents Smile track listing
"Song for Children"
"Child Is Father of the Man"

"Look" (labelled on session tapes as "I Ran")[1] is a composition written by Brian Wilson for American rock band the Beach Boys, intended as a potential track for the band's aborted Smile concept album. Due to lost tapes and scarce information, the recording of "Look" exists today only as an instrumental piece.

In 2004, "Look" was rewritten with Van Dyke Parks as "Song for Children", and released on Wilson's solo rerecording of Smile.


The song was to be entitled "Look", but during later vocal overdubs was marked as "I Ran" on session tape boxes. The tapes in these boxes remain lost, so it is unknown what the vocal arrangement of the song consisted of in 1966.[1] An explanation for the title "I Ran" can be attributed as the answer to a repeated lyrical question occurring in "Cabin Essence" ("Who ran the iron horse?").

Placing emphasis on glockenspiel, clavichord, and pounding floor toms, the instrumental track bears some melodic and stylistic similarities to the penultimate choral fugato of the recent Wilson composition "Good Vibrations". "Look" was attempted early on in Smile sessions, being the second song worked on after "Good Vibrations"—possibly having branched from the composition as a byproduct of its arduous gestation.[2] A prominent section of the song makes reference to the iconic opening of the American ragtime piece "Twelfth Street Rag",[2] as per the album's persistent Americana theme.[3] Vocal overdubs were recorded on October 13, 1966 (1966-10-13).[4]

According to Darian Sahanaja on its place in Wilson's 2004 Smile performances: "I was moving things around in Pro Tools, putting things together to show Brian. I dropped 'Wonderful' next to 'Look', and we listened to it. Brian's eyes lit up, and he said 'That's it! That's how we'll do it!'"[5] Van Dyke Parks later supplied lyrics to be sung in overlapping harmony vocals to further establish connections with other tracks on the album, especially those within the second movement, and it was renamed from "Look" to "Song For Children". In this version, the "Twelfth Street Rag" section is not performed. "Song for Children" served as the link between "Wonderful" and "Child Is Father of the Man", thus being the second track of the album's second movement.[2]

For The Smile Sessions, vocals from The Beach Boys' 1971 recording of "Surf's Up" were digitally mixed into the track similarly to how they were arranged in Brian Wilson Presents Smile.



In 2009 Rufus Wainwright covered Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks' 2004 "Song for Children" arrangement for the charity album War Child Presents Heroes as a medley with another track from the Smile catalog, "Wonderful" (following closely with Wilson's 2004 revision).


  1. ^ a b Shenk, Lou. "Smile Primer". alphastudio.com. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Lambert 2007, p. 268.
  3. ^ The Smile Sessions, 2011 liner notes and session tracks.
  4. ^ Doe, Andrew G. "GIGS66". esquarterly.com. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Bell, Matt (October 2004). "The Resurrection of Brian Wilson's Smile". Sound on Sound. soundonsound.com. Retrieved 16 July 2013.