That's Not Me
|"That's Not Me"|
|Song by The Beach Boys from the album Pet Sounds|
|Released||May 16, 1966|
|Recorded||February 15 – March 1966
United Western Recorders, Hollywood
|Writer(s)||Brian Wilson, Tony Asher|
|Pet Sounds track listing|
"That's Not Me" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher for American rock band the Beach Boys, the third track from their 1966 album Pet Sounds. It is a work influenced by psychedelic drugs that inspired Wilson to turn his attention inward and probe his deep-seated self-doubts. Wilson explained that the song "reveals a lot about myself, just the idea that you're going to look at yourself and say, 'Hey, now look, that's not me, kind of square off with yourself and say 'this is me, that's not me'." It is the only track on Pet Sounds that resembles a conventional rock song.
The song's structure contains multiple key modulations and mood shifts. On its recording, Mike Love shares lead vocal with Wilson, who plays the track's prominent, buzzing organ. Brian's brothers Carl and Dennis also contribute guitar and drums, respectively. Other band members sing backing vocals.
Background and lyricism
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 "That's Not Me" 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 "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times".
Asher has expressed dissatisfaction with the lyrics for the song, describing them as "labored", and that he had "missed the mark". In 1976, Brian stated, "I think "That's Not Me" reveals a lot about myself, just the idea that you're going to look at yourself and say, 'Hey, now look, that's not me, kind of square off with yourself and say 'this is me, that's not me'." According to Brian, "Tony and I actually didn't even really realize who we were writing it for. We didn't really write for anybody; we just wrote the songs. So we had full carte blanche to create these songs."
Allmusic considers "That's Not Me" to be "the closest thing to a conventional rocker" on the Pet Sounds album. According to biographer Jim Fusilli, the harmonic structure of the composition is deceptive beginning in the key of E major. The choruses see the key modulate to B major. After the second chorus, it modulates again to C major. Fusilli notes that the arrangement does not indulge on string and horn orchestrations, unlike the rest of the Pet Sounds album, and as a result is an "avant-garde piece of pop music" which displays a "subversive performance" in the face of its sparse instrumentation and avoidance of major seventh chords. As written in the Student's Guide to Music Tech,
"That's Not Me" is another example [re: "Wouldn't it Be Nice"] of the way in which the Beach Boys (or more properly, Brian Wilson) use texture to reflect changes of mood. Listen to the way the texture changes for the sections beginning "I'm a little bit scared" and "I once had a dream". The strong percussive elements drop out to leave a smooth, sustained organ and vocal texture with a heavily reverbed guitar. This song has no intro, but notice how unusual harmonic twists give variety to what might otherwise be a rather repetitive verse structure.
Author James E. Perone recalled the song's use of a "sighing" motif present throughout the whole of Pet Sounds. He explains,
[The song] includes the Wilson sigh motive [sic] at the conclusion of each line of the verses. Here, the lead character, this time sung by Mike Love, defines his identity more in terms of what he is rather than who he is. Although this ultimately defines the character, the technique that Asher employs in his lyrics and Wilson's insistent use of the sigh falloff can give the listener the impression that the character's sense of self-identity is weaker than he might admit. The sigh motive also links "That's Not Me" musically with its predecesser ["You Still Believe in Me"] as well as with the next track, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)".
The basic track was recorded on February 15, 1966, with the additional instrumental track being recorded in either February or March. The song consists of a strong buzzing organ presence, especially at the start; a characteristic prominent in psychedelic rock. The minimalist arrangements and harmonic structures are in contrast with the rest of the album, but are equally revolutionary.
Brian had occasionally used session musicians in notable quantities since The Beach Boys Today! and though musical contributions by the band were not very consistent for Pet Sounds, "That's Not Me" features many of the Beach Boys playing the instruments. Brian Wilson plays organ, Carl Wilson plays guitar, and Dennis Wilson plays drums. Al Jardine has also been credited as playing tambourine, while Mike Love sings the lead vocal with the whole band singing background vocals. The whole band is featured on this one track as the liner notes[by whom?] imply:
The AFM contract for this date lists Brian, Carl, Dennis, Al and Bruce as having played on this track. However, on the surviving session tape, only Brian, Carl and Dennis are clearly audible on the basic track, which includes just drums, organ, one guitar, and tambourine. As Brian was on the studio floor. Bruce was in the control booth, helping Chuck Britz direct the session. The tambourine apparently was played by Al Jardine or an uncredited Terry Melcher; Brian has named the latter on at least one occasion.
Though Dennis Wilson has been reported as playing the drums, some sources suggest that Hal Blaine plays them. Although it is unclear who is playing the tambourine, highlights from the session imply that it could be Al Jardine who is playing the tambourine with them. An overdub session came later with three instrumental parts.
The lead vocal was sung by Mike Love with Brian Wilson during February and March 1966 at United Western Recorders. Brian stated in 1996, "This showcased Mike Love's voice. Listen for the twelve-string guitar right after the lyric 'I'm a little bit scared 'cause I haven't been home in a long time'." Brian added, "He just really nailed it, real powerful voice, very souped-up kind of a sound.
||This section needs to be updated. (June 2016)|
- The Beach Boys
- Al Jardine – vocals,
- Mike Love – lead vocal
- Brian Wilson – lead vocal, organ
- Carl Wilson – vocals, guitar
- Dennis Wilson – drums
- Additional musicians
- Montes, Kevin (May 16, 2016). "From The Record Crate: The Beach Boys -"Pet Sounds" (1966)". The Young Folks.
- Castro, Danilo (May 16, 2016). "Why Does the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' Still Have Its Hold on Us?". PopMatters.
- DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5.
- Gaines, Steven; Hajdu, David (2009). Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780786751044.
- Charles L. Granata, Wouldn't It Be Nice: Brian Wilson and the making of the Beach Boys' Pet sounds (Chicago Review Press), ISBN 1-55652-507-9, p. 93.
- Elliott, Brad (August 31, 1999). "Pet Sounds Track Notes". beachboysfanclub.com. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
- Fornatale, Pete (November 3, 1976). "Interview with Brian Wilson" (MP3). NY Radio Archive. WNEW-FM 102.7.
- The Pet Sounds Sessions: "The Making Of Pet Sounds" booklet (1996)
- Mason, Stewart. "Song review". Allmusic.
- Fusilli, Jim (February 11, 2005). Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 55–56. ISBN 978-1-4411-1266-8.
- Bruce Cole; Andy Collyer; David M Howard, Andy Hunt, Damian Murphy (2005). Student's Guide to Music Tech. As, A2/Edex. Rhinegold Publishing Limited. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-904226-75-8.
- Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations [4 volumes]: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. ABC-CLIO. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-313-37907-9.
- D. W. Marshall, Mass Market Medieval: Essays on the Middle Ages in Popular Culture (Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2007), ISBN 0-7864-2922-4, p. 32.
- Pet Sounds (CD Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1999.