Brian Wilson Wrote 1 Beach Boys Song While Playing Piano in a Sandbox

Brian Wilson was a singer and songwriter for the Beach Boys, sharing which songs were his personal favorites. That included “Surf’s Up” off the album of the same name, which he actually co-wrote while his feet were in a sandbox. Here’s what we know about this artist and his unique songwriting process. 

Brian Wilson was one of the songwriters for the surf rock band, The Beach Boys

Singer, songwriter, and founding member of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson poses for a Portrait session
Singer, songwriter, and founding member of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson poses for a Portrait session | Harry Langdon/Getty Images

They’re known for songs like “God Only Knows,” “Kokomo,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” The Beach Boys were one of the most popular and influential bands of the 1960s, earning several Grammy Awards and nominations.

The Beach Boys’ original lineup featured brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. In addition to being a founding member of the Beach Boys, Wilson is credited as a songwriter.

He had a role in creating some of the group’s hit songs and also writing music for his solo project. Years later, the artist offered a glimpse into his songwriting process, sharing what makes the Beach Boys’ songs unique. One piece was even composed while Wilson was in a sandbox.

Brian Wilson wrote ‘Surf’s Up’ from the Beach Boys’ ‘Surf’s Up’ while in a sandbox

The Beach Boys songs are often about summer, sand, and surf — even though only one group member could actually surf. It makes sense that for the 1971 album Surf’s Up, the group included one track of the same title. “Surf’s Up” was co-written by Brian Wilson, with the artist having his toes in the sand while working.

“I remember we had a sandbox at my house, and my piano was in the sandbox,” Wilson said during an interview with Esquire Magazine. “Me and [lyricist] Van Dyke Parks were sitting at the piano with our feet in the sand.” 

“Can you believe that? What was it about the sand that helped inspire me? I don’t know, you know,” he continued. “I can’t explain it. But it worked. It really did. But I can’t explain how.”

Surf’s Up also featured “Long Promised Road,” “Feel Flows,” “‘Til I Die,” and “Take a Load Off Your Feet.”

Which Beach Boys songs did Brian Wilson write?

The same Esquire article listed some of Wilson’s personal favorite Beach Boys and solo songs, which included “In My Room,” “Surf’s Up,” and “God Only Knows.” He mentioned his appreciation for “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” which functioned as a “social statement.”

“I felt like I didn’t belong, that my ideas were ahead of the times,” Wilson said. “But it’s nice to know how much people love and respect what I did back then, and I’m in a better place now than I was when I was younger.”

Music by the Beach Boys, including Surf’s Up, is available on most major streaming platforms. 

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