The Beach Boys’ vocal harmonies are among the most unmistakable and enduring of the rock and roll era. Among rock and roll groups of the Sixties, the California quintet place second only to the Beatles in terms of their overall impact on the Top 40. They were the Fab Four’s most serious competitors on a creative level, too. Paul McCartney has allowed that the Beatles’ masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was their attempt to address the challenge posed by the Beach Boys’ magnum opus, Pet Sounds – which itself was inspired by the British foursome’s Rubber Soul.
This creative dialogue between two of rock’s greatest bands pushed popular music to an artistic peak. Paul McCartney noted that „both [Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper] have more than held up. To me it’s like, ‚What have people been doing in the meantime? Where’s the progress?’ I can’t see anything as modern as that around at the moment.”
The Beach Boys were a family affair that came together in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, California, in 1961. Three brothers — Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson — were joined by their cousin, Mike Love, and a schoolmate, Alan Jardine (who was replaced by David Marks, before rejoining). Brian Wilson, who demonstrated an aptitude for music at an early age, was the group’s leader, orchestrating their harmonies, writing the music, producing the recording sessions.
One of the undisputed geniuses in popular music, Brian demonstrated an uncanny gift for harmonic invention and complex vocal and instrumental arrangements. Initially, the magnitude of that genius was overlooked owing to the subject matter of the band’s early hits: i.e., surfing, hot rods and teen romance. But today, even the lyrics to those songs — generally written by Mike Love or such outside collaborators as deejay Roger Christian and producer Gary Usher — are celebrated for their deft use of technical lingo and youthful joie de vivre. „A lot of love went into our singing, our harmonies, the making of those records,” Brian Wilson said in 2003.
„I Get Around” was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for The Beach Boys. The song features Love on lead vocal for the verse, and Wilson for the chorus. It is noteworthy for its back-to-front structure—it starts with a chorus and has two short verses. It was a single which was released in 1964 through Capitol Records; the B-side of the single was „Don’t Worry Baby”, which itself charted at number 24 in the United States. „I Get Around” was The Beach Boys’ first number-one hit song in the United States. The single charted at number seven in the United Kingdom, and was the band’s first top ten single there. The song’s first album release was on All Summer Long in 1964. The band performed I Get Around as well as Wendy on the Ed Sullivan Show on September 27, 1964.
The vocals were recorded during a session eight days later on April 10. The lead vocal features Mike Love on the verses and Brian Wilson on the choruses with backing vocals from Brian, Carl & Dennis Wilson, Mike Love and Alan Jardine (the soaring falsetto is Brian Wilson).
„I Get Around” was released as a single in the US on May 11, 1964. The single entered the Billboard chart on June 6 at #17. It reached the #1 spot on the Billboard charts on July 4, becoming the band’s first #1 hit in the US. The song remained at #1 for two weeks before being replaced by „Rag Doll” by The Four Seasons. The single also reached #1 on the United States Variety charts on July 1.
The song was first released on an album in 1964 on the band’s All Summer Long album. In the following year, the band re-recorded the song as a medley along with „Little Deuce Coupe” for their 1965 Beach Boys’ Party! album. The medley was a send-up of the original recording. The mock recording replaces lyrics such as „we always take my car cause it’s never been beat” with „we always take my car although it’s a heap”. The original recording of the song was later re-released on the band’s 1989 studio album Still Cruisin’. On the 1996 country styled studio release Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 the band re-recorded the song for the album which featured country band Sawyer Brown as guests on the track who played several of the instruments on the recording as well as featuring a lead vocal by band member Mark Miller. The harmonies on the re-recorded track were provided by Brian & Carl Wilson, Alan & Matt Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston.
The song frequently appears on many of the groups Greatest Hits compilations.