‘Pet Sounds’ is obviously one of the most brilliant, beautiful albums ever recorded, despite containing two instrumentals and a sea shanty, but it was only after ‘Pet Sounds’ saw them completely “fuck with the formula” – as Mike Love disparagingly put it at the time – that the band truly got interesting. Between ’67 to ’73, The Beach Boys had an epic run of eight albums, plus a number of hit singles, and they did so mostly without resident genius Brian Wilson, who spent years holed up in bed addled by drugs and mental illness – often while the band dutifully worked downstairs in his home studio.
Everyone stepped up to fill this notable gap – Carl, Bruce, Al, even fucking Mike – all delivering some undeniable classics during this period. Brian was involved sparingly, but some of his finest material comes during this time-frame too, despite his obvious issues. The mash of different songwriters and producers, a steady flow of experimentation, earnest ballads, misplaced excursions in ‘groovy’ subject matter (Mike ended the ‘Friends’ album with a song called ‘Transcendental Meditation’ which is a blasting aural assault in fierce contrast to the tranquil quality of the rest of the album – more proof Mike will never get it), surf throwbacks, pastoral hymns, and whatever else they wanted to do – well, it all makes for an amazing, varied run of innovative records that recasts the entire band’s legacy.
Well, it would have recast it, had the band not have followed these albums by immediately joining the oldies nostalgic touring circuit and doubling down on the apple-pie surfer-boy reputation they had almost shaken. Then again, when you call your band ‘The Beach Boys’, you are dead before the ship sinks.
‘Let The Wind Blow’ is a Brian classic unfairly buried in their catalogue, sitting at track nine on 1967’s ‘Wild Honey’; an album that contains some of the Beach Boys’ finest songs (‘Wild Honey’, ‘I Was Made To Love Her’ and ‘Darlin’ come to mind) but suffers from being tossed together in such a haphazard sequence that you can feel the lack of love shining through the stained glass window on the cover (I think it’s a stained glass window).
A simple, aching tune, ‘Let The Wind Blow’ possesses a spooky beauty often found in Brian’s most intimate, broken compositions. Here, he is struck by the simple march of time, the impermanence of everything, the elemental beauty of nature. It’s all quite nice until he realises if everything can and does change, then so might his lover’s place in his life. So he begins praying for everything to simply be. “Don’t take her out of my life”, he barks, soon needing assurance. “Let me please know she’ll be a part of my life forever.” Of course she won’t – she can’t.
Knowing about Brian’s mental state around this period (this was just after the SMiLE sessions, which he shut down after fearing a song about fire was actually responsible for fires which were breaking out around L.A. at the time) adds a extra layer of fragility to this song, but you don’t really need to know the story – it’s all captured on the tape.