Barbara Ann (1965)- Beach Boys


Barbara Ann is the first song by the Beach Boys to appear in the music library project and it is also one of the first songs I can ever remember hearing.  I am still in awe of it, mainly because of the wonderful harmonies and catchy tune which never seems to grow old. Nearly all of the Beach Boys songs remind me of my cousins growing up who went surfing a lot, but ironically only one of the ‘Beach Boys’ surfed, namely Dennis Wilson who tragically drowned in 1983.

Just prior to Barbara Ann being covered by the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson was working on Pet Sounds. But it was taking him so long. The record company kept pestering Brian ‘when’s it coming’? And Brian decided he wasn’t that close to finishing it. But he had this idea of doing a Party record and completing it in a few days and giving that to the record company as a way of getting them off his back for a few months.

Dean Torence from the American rock duo ‘Jan and Dean‘ (who were pioneers of the California Sound and vocal surf music styles popularized by the Beach Boys) recalled how he was recording in a studio alongside the Beach Boys. Dean had a few minutes spare and thought he’d pay a visit to his friends The Beach Boys and they asked which song they could all sing in the time he had allotted away from his studio. He suggested Barbara Ann which Jan and Dean had recorded a few years earlier. So after a few takes and change in key, this is how the iconic Barbara Ann version by the Beach Boys (and Dean Torrece) was conceived. You can listen to the full interview with Dean Torrence here. He mentioned they were having so much fun doing the takes that they felt compelled to get it down. The rare extended version below of Barbara Ann demonstrates just how much fun they were having!

According to wikipedia: Barbara Ann was a song written by Fred Fassert and was first recorded by the Regents as “Barbara-Ann” in 1961. Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys was the most famous cover version and was issued as a single from their album Beach Boys’ Party! with the B-side “Girl Don’t Tell Me”. 

The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week ending January 1, 1966. The week ending January 29, the song leaped from No. 15 to No. 2 and was in position to replace “We Can Work It Out” by The Beatles as the next No. 1 song. However, “My Love” by Petula Clark unexpectedly vaulted into the No. 1 position the week ending February 5, 1966. Consequently, “Barbara Ann” peaked at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (No. 1 in Cash Box and Record World) and at No. 3 in the UK in January 1966.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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5 comments on “Barbara Ann (1965)- Beach Boys
  1. badfinger20 says:

    This is a wonderful feel good song. I do have a love for surf music…although this has nothing to do with surfing…it’s part of the genre. I’ve been at a party where this song broke out and everyone participated. It’s something everyone can do…maybe not good lol but they can pitch in.

    • I love this version in particular because you almost feel you are in the studio with them having such a great time. Also, even though they are playing around you can’t help but admire their incredible singing. My kids and I love singing this…
      You’re right everyone can join in with this one. Language isn’t a barrier with Barbara Ann – that’s for sure!

      • badfinger20 says:

        You can imagine some young musicians drinking a little and having a good time.
        It is a kids friendly song. We did it live a few times at parties with the band I was in…including a few naughty lyrics lol

  2. I’ve not heard this for quite a few years and it takes me right back to those days when every new song you heard on the radio was a thing of wonder. This is much too loose to get on an album these days but the seeming improvisational aspects of it are what makes it so utterly charming and compelling. Thanks so much for allowing me to wallow in nostalgia.

    • I had not heard it also for many years until by good fortune I stumbled across it again recently. I really like hearing this demo here too and how they effortlessly brought this stunning work to life. They were such a talented bunch that even by way of skylarking they effortlessly forged this amazing harmony. It’s just so impressive. Wallowing in nostalgia is good! Hehe

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