Song 64: The Beach Boys, “Don’t Worry Baby” (1964)Posted: March 6, 2013
One of the joys of listening to so much music is realizing what songs you revisit the most. Like any self-respecting music snob, I adore the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, that absurdly great record that proved that Brian Wilson was (and remains) some sort of hypercreative genius. It’s incredible, and with confections like “Sloop John B.” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” not inaccessible.
Yet the song I always go back to is “Don’t Worry Baby,” a three-minute, (mostly) three-chord song that, compared to the Pet Sounds and Smile songs, could not be more simple. Wilson originally conceived it as an answer song to the Ronettes’ “Don’t Worry Baby,” Wilson’s favorite song. Listening to the two songs back-to-back is a fun exercise, because you can identify the parts that Wilson wanted to replicate: that thump-ka-thump intro, the overall tempo, and, of course, that command of a refrain. Even reading the song names together is something like an intimate conversation.
One thing I love about “Don’t Worry Baby” is the guitar solo, which, admittedly, is barely a solo at al, but I think it’s perfect: like the girl in the song, it’s providing simplicity and consistently. The Beach Boys’s music became beloved for its complexity, but at any given moment, I find reassurance more appealing.