This is the second song to feature here from the Beach Boys. I came to Don’t Worry Baby late in my musical journey, but it’s about one of my favourite songs from them. It accentuates everything that was so effervescent in their sound as they rose to become one the most commercially popular and influential sixties groups. Recently I watched again the Elton John biopic Rocketman (reviewed here) on cable where he learned that he would be launching his American tour playing at the Troubadour at Hollywood, but he was hugely intimidated to be playing in front of The Beach Boys in audience. Who can blame him?
But she looks in my eyes
And makes me realize
And she says “Don’t worry baby”
Don’t worry baby
Don’t worry baby
Everything will turn out alright
Apart from the majestic harmony and marvellous melody, the rollicking train rhythm of Don’t Worry Baby is brilliant, not dissimilar in feel to Jonny Cash’s early hit ‘I Walk the Line‘ at least for me. Brian Wilson even declared Don’t Worry Baby as one of The Beach Boys finest records. He opined in 1970, ‘It has about the best proportion of our voices and ranges‘. His lead vocal here is recognised as one of his most defining. It was issued in May 1964 as the B-side of “I Get Around” which is my personal favourite song from them. Interestingly their musical producer Phil Spector rejected the song and Brian was left to produce it on his own.
“Don’t Worry Baby” was composed by Brian Wilson at his home in California. It was conceived as a response to “Be My Baby“, a recent hit by the Ronettes that had amazed and inspired Wilson. Wilson even considered having the song be recorded by the Ronettes instead of the Beach Boys. He said in a recent interview that he composed it over 2 days. It was ranked 174 by the Rolling Stone in their list of the greatest songs in history.
Terry Melcher drew heavily on “Don’t Worry Baby” for his production and arrangement of the Byrds’ 1965 rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man”. The two tracks share a similar tempo, as well as the same drum beat and rhythm guitar patterns. Byrds member Roger McGuinn greatly admired “Don’t Worry Baby” and stated that, at one point, he listened to the record (alongside “God Only Knows”) nearly every morning. “I’d wake up and play those songs. It was really inspirational. It was almost like going to church.“