Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys

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Monday May 16th,2016-the album Pet Sounds is 50 years old. It is one of my absolute favorite albums EVER!

The story of Pet Sounds is the story of art versus commerce, youthful optimism versus adult cynicism and the independent spirit versus the mundane status quo. It’s also a story of tremendous courage. In 1966, 23-year-old Brian Wilson hijacked the Beach Boys, a multi-million-dollar industry consisting of his two brothers, cousin and childhood friend, to give voice to the sounds he heard in his head and the emotions he felt in his heart. The result was an album that had leading musical figures struggling to match his technical innovation, lyrical depth and melodic genius. Half a century later, it’s questionable whether anyone has.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the seminal album’s release, here are some facts about Pet Sounds‘ creation:

Pet Sounds‘ lyricist penned jingles for Barbie dolls, Max Factor cosmetics and Gallo wine.

 In an effort to craft material that moved beyond the Beach Boys’ lightweight fun-fun-fun-in-the-sun fare, Brian Wilson sought to work with a lyricist from outside the band’s usual circle. In late 1965, he tapped Tony Asher, a copywriter at the prestigious Carson-Scott advertising agency, who had written campaigns for Mattel toys (“You can tell it’s Mattel – It’s swell!”), as well as Max Factor, Gallo Wines and a host of other high-profile clients. The pair was loosely acquainted through mutual friends, and had recently crossed paths in the recording studio where Asher was producing advertising jingles. The meeting was short and uneventful, but the urbane and articulate ad man stayed on Wilson’s mind.

“A few weeks later, I got a phone call, ” recalled Asher in an interview for the Pet Sounds 30th-anniversary box set. “And Brian said, ‘Listen, I have an album that is overdue. Would you want to help me write it?’ I thought it was somebody in the office playing a joke on me.'” After confirming it wasn’t a prank, Asher secured a leave of absence from his job and reported for duty at the pop star’s Beverly Hills home several days later. Though it may sound like an unusual pairing, Asher’s experience turning long meetings with ad clients into crisp copy and memorable slogans made him an ideal partner for Wilson. Most of their writing sessions began with abstract conversations about life and love, which would inevitably seep into their work. As Asher relayed to Nick Kent: “It’s fair to say that the general tenor of the lyrics was always his and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter.”

 

“God Only Knows” was written in under an hour.

The track has become one of the most beloved in the band’s canon, famously praised by Paul McCartney as the greatest song ever written. Its legendary status is even more remarkable considering that it came together in less than an hour. According to a 2015 Guardian interview, Wilson claims that he and Tony Asher composed the song in just 45 minutes. “We didn’t spend a lot of time writing it,” confirms Asher. “It came pretty quickly. And Brian spent a lot of time working on what ended up being the instrumental parts of that song. But the part that has lyrics really was one of those things that just kinda came out as a whole.”

Author Jim Fusilli theorized that the song’s title was born out of a love letter Wilson wrote to his wife Marilyn in 1964, signing off with “Yours until God wants us apart.” Whatever the true genesis, this reference to God created a dilemma for the two collaborators. “We had lengthy conversations during the writing of ‘God Only Knows,'” remembers Asher. “Because unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America,’ no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song. No one had done it, and Brian didn’t want to be the first person to try it. He said, ‘We’ll just never get any airplay.'” Though a handful of Southern radio stations banned the song for blasphemy, it was warmly received nearly everywhere else.

The original title of “I Know There’s an Answer” caused major conflict within the band.

While Brian Wilson was busy writing and recording instrumental tracks for Pet Sounds, the rest of the Beach Boys spent early 1966 touring Japan on the back of their most recent hit, a brainless campfire cover of the Regents’ “Barbara Ann,” which Wilson had tossed off in the fall to fulfill record-company commitments. When the group reconvened in the studio that February to record vocal parts for what they assumed would be another sunny Brian Wilson anthem, one of the first things they heard was a track called “Hang on to Your Ego.” Written with the band’s road manager Terry Sachen, the lyrics were inspired by Wilson’s experience using LSD. The whole band was taken aback by this jarring new direction, but Mike Love reportedly took particular offense to the piece, which he rejected as “a doper song”.

For the album’s emotional closer,”Caroline, No” 23-year-old Brian Wilson cast his mind back to his teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain.

He had been obsessed with the girl as a student, rhapsodizing about her beautiful complexion and long dark hair. By 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their hometown of Hawthorne, not far from his Hollywood home. Though also married, Wilson began to call his unrequited high-school love, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later.

Though they didn’t meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. “If I saw her today, I’d probably think, ‘God, she’s lost something,’ because growing up does that to people,” he explained decades later. He relayed this story to Tony Asher, who penned a chorus in the form of a dialogue between the two: “Oh, Carol, I know.” Wilson misheard this as “Caroline, No,” giving the song its pleading title. The recording became one of the most heartbreaking tunes ever committed to wax, plodding ahead at a depressive crawl. He played the song to his father (and onetime band manager), Murry Wilson, who advised his son to speed up the tape a full tone to give his voice a sweeter, more youthful quality. The effect made him sound like the lovesick teenager that, in many ways, he still was.

Session musicians used Coke cans, water bottles and orange juice jugs for percussion.
The arrangements on Pet Sounds boast a dazzling array of percussion previously unseen in the rock-music arena. Sleigh bells, timpani, güiro, vibraphone, bongos and other exotic instruments all add color to the album, but certain sounds aren’t instruments at all. In order to create the music in his head, Wilson improvised a number of percussive instruments from whatever he had on hand. For the Latin-tinged “Pet Sounds” track, he encouraged drummer Ritchie Frost to tap two empty Coke cans for a distinctive percussive beat.

Drumming legend Hal Blaine, unofficial chief of the crack team of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, had something special up his sleeve for the clip-clop rhythm that kept “God Only Knows” galloping forward. “We used to drink orange juice out of the vending machines,” he explained. “I took three of these small six- or eight-ounce plastic orange-drink bottles, and I cut them down to three different sizes in length. And I taped ’em together, and I used a little vibraphone mallet. Brian loved that kind of stuff.” Session man Jim Gordon (later of Derek and the Dominos) actually played the OJ bottles, but Hal pulled off a similar trick on the introduction for “Caroline, No,” playing upturned Sparkletts water jugs like bongos.

As the flutes from “Caroline, No” fade away, the melancholic sound of a passing train is heard while dogs wail. The locomotive whistle was sampled off a 1963 effects album called Mister D’s Machine (“Train #58, the Owl at Edison, California”), but the barks come from Wilson’s own dogs: Banana, a beagle, and Louie, a Weimaraner.

According to legend, John Lennon and Paul McCartney got together to pen a Pet Sounds-style preamble for their lush “Here, There and Everywhere.” The track found its way onto Revolver that August, but it was their 1967 follow-up that truly bore influence of Brian Wilson. “Without Pet SoundsSgt. Pepper never would have happened,” admitted Beatles’ producer George Martin. “Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.”

It’s The Hard Days That Determine Who You Are

Having just lost my mother 3 weeks ago,a lot of this rang true for me-very good speech and one everyone should read- wherever you are in life.

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Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of “Lean In,’’ delivered the commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday. Below is an edited version of her remarks.

I AM NOT here to tell you all the things I’ve learned in life. Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.

One year and 13 days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His death was sudden and unexpected. We were at a friend’s 50th birthday party in Mexico. I took a nap. Dave went to work out. What followed was the unthinkable — walking into a gym to find him lying on the floor. Flying home to tell my children that their father was gone. Watching his casket being lowered into the ground.

For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief — what I think of as the void — an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even to breathe.

Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.

I’m sharing this with you in the hope that today, as you take the next step in your life, you can learn the lessons that I learned only in death. Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished.

You will almost certainly face deep adversity. There’s loss of opportunity: the job that doesn’t work out, the illness or accident that changes everything in an instant. There’s loss of dignity: the sharp sting of prejudice when it happens. There’s loss of love. And sometimes there’s loss of life itself.

The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will. Today I want to talk about what happens next. About the things you can do to overcome adversity, no matter what form it takes or when it hits you. The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

A few weeks after Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave.” Phil put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

We all at some point live some form of option B. The question is: What do we do then?

Psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

The first P is personalization — the belief that we are at fault. This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

When Dave died, I had a very common reaction, which was to blame myself. He died in seconds, from a cardiac arrhythmia. I poured over his medical records asking what I could have — or should have — done. It wasn’t until I learned about the three P’s that I accepted that I could not have prevented his death. His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?

Studies show that getting past personalization can actually make you stronger. Not taking failures personally allows us to recover — and even to thrive.

The second P is pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.

The child psychologists I spoke to encouraged me to get my kids back to their routine as soon as possible. So 10 days after Dave died, they went back to school and I went back to work. I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion, and for a second — a brief split second — I forgot about death.

That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving, and they carried us — quite literally, at times.

The loss of a partner often has severe negative financial consequences, especially for women. So many single mothers — and fathers — struggle to make ends meet or have jobs that don’t allow them the time they need to care for their children. I had financial security, the ability to take the time off I needed, and a job that I did not just believe in, but where it’s actually OK to spend all day on Facebook. Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night, crying less, playing more.

The third P is permanence — the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.

We often project our current feelings out indefinitely — and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious — and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad — and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings — but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal, but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”

But I wish I had known about the three P’s when I was your age. There were so many times these lessons would have helped.

One day my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist, suggested that I think about how much worse things could be. This was completely counterintuitive; it seemed like the way to recover was to try to find positive thoughts. “Worse?” I said. “Are you crazy? How could things be worse?” His answer cut straight through me: “Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia while he was driving your children.” Wow. The moment he said it, I felt overwhelming gratitude that my family was alive. That gratitude overtook some of the grief.

Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful.

Last month, 11 days before the anniversary of Dave’s death, I broke down crying to a friend of mine. We were sitting — of all places — on a bathroom floor. I said: “Eleven days. One year ago, he had 11 days left. And we had no idea.” We looked at each other through tears, and asked how we would live if we knew we had 11 days left.

As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had 11 days left? I don’t mean blow everything off and party all the time. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.

As I stand here today, a year after the worst day of my life, two things are true. I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always — right here, where I can touch it. I never knew I could cry so often — or so much.

But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out — grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day — and trust me, that list was often quite long. Now I try hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy.

It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude — gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude — not just on the good days, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.

I hope that you live your life — each precious day of it — with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain — and that you are grateful for each step.

And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

Last Touches at Woodstone

We (and our architect, Jen Hart) have always loved the railings that are on the pavilions at the University of Virginia on the Lawn and at Monticello,all designed by Thomas Jefferson. These designs were our inspiration for the railings on the side porches of Woodstone.

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The railings were assembled first in our barn-waiting for a sunny, warm day to put them up.

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Finally we got some good weather in April and up they went!

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Zaha Hadid 1950-2016

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Swim Center at the 2012 London Olympics

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Guangzhou Opera House

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Riverside Museum in Glasgow

Zaha Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker architecture prize in 2004 and twice won the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the RIBA Stirling prize. Other awards included the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.

Hadid won acclaim in Scotland for designing the popular Riverside Museum in Glasgow, known for its distinctive roof structure. Muriel Gray, chair of the board of governors at the Glasgow School of Art, tweeted a picture of the Riverside museum with the message: “Horrible shocking news that Zaha Hadid, incredible architectural trailblazer has just died. Huge loss to design.”

Hadid was recently awarded the RIBA’s 2016 royal gold medal, the first woman to be awarded the honour in her own right.

Architect Sir Peter Cook wrote in his citation at the time: “In our current culture of ticking every box, surely Zaha Hadid succeeds, since, to quote the royal gold medal criteria, she is someone who ‘has made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of architecture … for a substantial body of work rather than for work which is currently fashionable’.

“For three decades now she has ventured where few would dare … Such self confidence is easily accepted in film-makers and football managers, but causes some architects to feel uncomfortable. Maybe they’re secretly jealous of her unquestionable talent. Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy comfortable character. We didn’t. We awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case.”

Estabrook Woods

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One of the reasons we bought our property is because we literally back up to this wonderful piece of land known as Estabrook Woods. This is from their website:

Estabrook Woods is an amazing place nestled inside Concord, MA. If the variety of trails weren’t enough, the history is very special. Here you can walk on the same road that the Minutemen traveled from Carlisle to the North Bridge to face off against the British in 1775. Every year on Patriot’s Day, the reenactment soldiers still travel this 350 + year old road. The site of an old lime kiln from the 1960s can still be viewed here. Just a few miles from Walden Pond, Henry Thoreau also walked here, lived here and wrote about these woods. In fact, his Walden Pond house was moved here from the Walden Pond site. Today, the land is mostly owned by Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. It is a wild tract of more than 1,200 acres of woodland, hills, ledge, and swamp. It is the largest contiguous and undeveloped woodland within thirty miles of Boston.

Estabrook Woods is a recreational delight. You can travel the wide, but rocky carriage roads or turn down a winding stretch of single-track trail. It’s a favorite spot for dog walkers, light hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The New England Orienteering Club (NEOC) has a map of the area and holds meets here on occasion. Most of the terrain is ride able by a mountain bike. Some is fairly easy, but most trails are rocky and technical in places. Some rock gardens and slick stream crossings will almost certainly have most riders off their bikes. For the advanced rider, take the winding single-track up to the top of Punkatasset Hill and enjoy a rocket ride straight down to the bottom. Pick up the Davis Corridor to Carlisle and after a short road ride to Kimball’s ice cream, pick up the singletrack behind the farm and you can make it almost all the way into Great Brook Farm State Park on trail. Trail runners delight in the flowing trails and variety of gently rolling terrain.

Woodstone In Snow

Our first real storm (which is hard to believe!) in February. It was fun to see how the house and barn look with loads of snow-and it stayed very warm.

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Parquet Floor from Monticello

A few people have asked about the parquet floor that we did in our front hallway-what was the inspiration for it?

The truth is, that was in the works from the very beginning. At our very first meeting with the architect, my husband mentioned the parquet floor. Right away Jen Hart, the architect, lit up-“I have always wanted to do that!” she said. The reason? They both went to the University of Virginia and love Monticello in Charlottesville. This floor is in the parlor (pictured below) and is made of cherry and beech. It is said that Thomas Jefferson designed it himself, although the thought is that he may have seen something similar during his years in France as the  Ambassador in 1784-89.
Each unit is constructed of a center square of cherry and a border of beech. When first installed, the contrast between the woods would have been even more striking than it is today, with the cherry coming across as a rich red and the beech a golden blonde. Beeswax was the only substance used to bring out the color of the woods. Additionally, the squares were installed with their grains going in alternating directions, which would have added further nuance to the regular geometric pattern of the floor, depending on the angle of light and where one was standing.

J J Hardwood Floors from Acton,MA certainly did a very good job of replicating the floor for us. We were all very true to the design as well as the woods used for the project and the installation.

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