The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine – My Life In Music

The Beach Boys mainstay on the records that have him hoisting up the sails: “It just takes me back to a really innocent time”

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Read more in issue 303 of Uncut – available now for home delivery from our online store.

THE KINGSTON TRIO
STRING ALONG
CAPITOL, 1960

I had already heard The Kingston Trio’s version of “The John B Sails” – the original title of “Sloop John B” – when String Along came out in 1960. It was their fifth album and the last one with original member Dave Guard. I just loved every song on it. At the time, nothing beat their folk sound and perfect harmonies. It’s still one of my all-time favourites and really takes me back to my early days when I was in my own folk trio called The Islanders. I liked their striped shirts too, ha-ha!

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GEORGE GERSHWIN
“RHAPSPDY IN BLUE”
VICTOR MACHINE TALKING CO, 1924

This is probably my all-time favourite song, and it’s so amazing that a song that’s almost 100 years old is still so powerful – it literally knocks me out every time I hear it. I also enjoyed Brian’s Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin album that features all of our current Brian Wilson band members: Darian Sahanaja, Probyn Gregory, Paul Von Mertens, Mike D’Amico and Gary Griffin, plus the late Nicky Wonder – RIP – and also Jeffrey Foskett. If there’s a George Gershwin Music Hall Of Fame, Brian should be in it!

FRANKIE LYMON & THE TEENAGERS
WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE
GEE, 1956

I think Frankie Lymon was only 12 when he joined [the band that would become] The Teenagers and [not much older when] they released their big hit “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. I loved that doo-wop sound in the late-’50s, but this song in particular really hit me with its catchy melody and expressive vocals. The Beach Boys recorded it in early 1964 and then we released it as the B-side to “Fun, Fun, Fun”. We still love playing it live – it just takes me back to a really innocent time in the early days of rock’n’roll and I still have the 45 in my own personal jukebox.

LEAD BELLY
COTTON FIELDS (THE COTTON SONG)
FOLKWAYS, 1953

Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly) first recorded “The Cotton Song” in 1940 and I first heard it in the mid-’50s. I loved Lead Belly’s vocals and of course his 12-string guitar sound but it was really his heartfelt emotional lyrics written during the Great Depression that affected me. I was determined to record a new version for The Beach Boys at a time when we were going off in quite a few different musical directions. We released “Cotton Fields” on our 20/20 album and it ended up being our last single released in mono and on Capitol at the time.

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