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The song Busy Doin' Nothin', and the 1968 album Friends, from which this Beach Boys song lives, fell in the shadow of such masterworks as Pet Sounds (1966) and the then unreleased SMiLE (1967/2004/2011). I still consider this song one of Brian Wilson's finest achievements.
I started digging around for Wilson's post-Pet Sounds work around the time of the Rolling Stone interview conducted with Wilson in July 1988. That article, written at the time Wilson was promoting his first solo album, expanded upon the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson myth. I hit all of the vinyl shops in Toronto, looking for material that might provide any insight as to why Wilson retreated from the music industry, after SMiLE didn't come out. I met some life-long music-loving friends as a result of my interest in this era of Beach Boys music.
The dense, jazz-like chord changes on this song are amazing, and the original track is set to an 'au courant' bossa nova rhythm.
Since it's just me and a piano here, my interpretation is somewhat busier in its frenetic execution. I've been playing the song regularly for about 15 years though. If I ever record a true studio version of this song, I would probably slow down and appreciate the chord changes even more.
I love the work of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis, Randy Newman, Kate Bush, Andy Partridge, Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Harry Nilsson, and the Beatles, to name a few, Brian Wilson has inspired me most of all.
Give the Friends album a listen if you can. It's a blissful, easy album, and one of my favourites.
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