The Beach Boys – Til I Die (1971)

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“’Til I Die” is the title of a song written by Brian Wilson for The Beach Boys. It is one of the few songs in which both the words and music were written solely by Wilson. The song was first released on the band’s 1971 album Surf’s Up and was subsequently released as the B-side of the “Long Promised Road” single. According to Brian in the press material for the Surf’s Up album, the song was inspired after a late night trip to the beach. Wilson recalled the events prior to him writing the song:
“Lately, I’d been depressed and preoccupied with death…Looking out toward the ocean, my mind, as it did almost every hour of every day, worked to explain the inconsistencies that dominated my life; the pain, torment, and confusion and the beautiful music I was able to make. Was there an answer? Did I have no control? Had I ever? Feeling shipwrecked on an existential island, I lost myself in the balance of darkness that stretched beyond the breaking waves to the other side of the earth. The ocean was so incredibly vast, the universe was so large, and suddenly I saw myself in proportion to that, a little pebble of sand, a jellyfish floating on top of the water; traveling with the current I felt dwarfed, temporary. The next day I began writing “‘Til I Die”, perhaps the most personal song I ever wrote for The Beach Boys…In doing so, I wanted to re-create the swell of emotions that I’d felt at the beach the previous night.”

[In memory of dear friend and music lover Kjeld Tolstrup]

Note: I played this song as a pop quiz in 2004 on a private social network. Of course Kjeld was the first one to get the answer right (click on the graphic to view his comments):

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