Vegetables (song)

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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)
Studio Gold Star Studios, Sunset Sound Recorders, and CBS Columbia Square, Hollywood
Length 2:07
Label Brother/Capitol
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
Smiley Smile track listing
"Heroes and Villains"
"Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (W. Woodpecker Symphony)"
Audio sample
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
  • Brian Wilson
  • Van Dyke Parks
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Smile Sessions track listing
"I Wanna Be Around / "Workshop"
"Mama Says"
Song by The Beach Boys
from the album Wild Honey
Released December 18, 1967 (1967-12-18)
Recorded November 1967 (1967-11)
Studio Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood
Length 1:05
Label Capitol
Producer(s) The Beach Boys
Wild Honey track listing
"How She Boogalooed It"
"Mama Says"

"Vegetables" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks for American rock band the Beach Boys, released as the second track on their 1967 album Smiley Smile. The Beatles' Paul McCartney is believed to appear on an earlier version of the song, spelled "Vega-Tables", chewing celery as percussion. While McCartney and others corroborate the story, his presence could not be verified on the extended session tape.[1]

The song, once projected as a potential lead single for the unfinished album Smile, was partly inspired by Wilson's obsession with physical fitness in the late 1960s, and he intended Smile to be a "health food album". In 1969, this culminated in him opening a small health food store from 1969 to 1971, the Radiant Radish located in West Hollywood.

A discarded bridge section from "Vega-Tables" was later recycled as the a cappella "Mama Says", released on their 1967 album Wild Honey, featuring heavily syncopated vocals by the group.[2]


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.[3] David Leaf has said the song was based on Wilson's reported health obsession at the time.[4] 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."[5] "Vega-Tables" was envisioned to fulfill the Earth part of "The Elements" suite devised for Smile.[5]

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". Some versions feature an interpolated section after the verses involving Barbershop-style vocal harmonies sung by the Beach Boys as they recite two couplets opened by the lyric "mom and daddy say":

Sleep a lot, eat 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".[4]


Recording for "Vega-Tables" or "Vegetables" spanned from October 17, 1966 (1966-10-17) through June 15, 1967 (1967-06-15).[6] All versions of the song except for "Mama Says" feature the novel use of raw vegetable chewing as percussion.[4] During an April session for "Vega-Tables", the version found on The Smile Sessions,[1] Paul McCartney joined the Beach Boys in the studio.[4] Al Jardine remembers that:

The night before a big tour, I was out in the studio recording the vocal [for "Vega-Tables"] 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."[4]

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.[4]


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.




"Mama Says"

  • The Beach Boys – vocals

Cover versions[edit]


"Receptacle for the Respectable" from the album Rings Around the World (2001) by Super Furry Animals also features Paul McCartney chewing celery and carrots.[9]


  1. ^ a b "#120 – MARK LINETT – BEACH BOYS SMILE SESSIONS PART 2". Icon Fetch. October 14, 2011. 
  2. ^ Badman 2004, p. 188.
  3. ^ Peet & Siegel 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Leaf, David (1990). Smiley Smile/Wild Honey (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 
  5. ^ a b Badman 2004, p. 160.
  6. ^ Doe, Andrew G. "GIGS67". "GIGS66". Endless Summer Quarterly. 
  7. ^ Wilson-Rutherford, Marilyn (2011). The Smile Sessions Deluxe Box Set (Booklet). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. p. 38. 
  8. ^ Priore 2005.
  9. ^ "Sir Paul eats with the Animals". April 10, 2001. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

External links[edit]