I Get Around

Brian Wilson, 1964

Before playing the song, have students read the lyrics first, then discuss:

From the lyrics, what was a typical day like for these kids? A weekend? What do they think is important? What does it mean to be "hip" and to "get around"? How prosperous are they compared to the average 1964 teen?

What worries do the lyrics reveal? "Bad guys," finding a place to belong. How does this reflect the conflicts of the era? Prosperity yet simultaneously a sense of threat. What were the threats in the larger world?

Now play the song, then discuss:

What words would you use to describe the music in the verse? How does the music support the lyrics? What is the mood of the verse compared to the chorus? Where does the mood change? How? Voices? Instruments? Rhythm? Melody?

How would teens in 1964 listen to this song? What makes it good driving music? What technology of the '60s allowed music to be more "portable"? Transistor radios, jukeboxes, car radios, later 8-track tapes.

Why aren't the kids in "I Get Around" under pressure to get jobs like the guys in "Get a Job"? How are expectations different between the two cultural groups? If young people in an L.A. suburb sang "I Get Around" and in the L.A. Watts neighborhood sang "Get a Job," what does that suggest about some of the important events of the 1960s?

 

"I Get Around" performed by the Beach Boys on Fifty Big Ones: Greatest Hits, Capitol Records, © 2012. Available on Itunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

 

For more information on The Beach Boys visit their official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. For the lyrics please consult this online source:

https://genius.com/The-beach-boys-i-get-around-lyrics

1964 Dodge convertible ad
Advertisement for a 1964 Dodge convertible.

Brian Wilson composed "I Get Around" for the Beach Boys, a group from Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles. They invented California rock, with lyrics that dealt with an idealized California teenhood including surfing, driving, and dating. The band consisted of three Wilson brothers, Brian, Dennis, and Carl, with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, only one of whom (Dennis) surfed regularly. They started playing together in 1960 while in high school. Their first song, "Surfin'," was a regional hit exhibiting the forceful rock and roll influence of Chuck Berry. "I Get Around" was the beginning of a series of songs which branched out from strictly surfing songs ("Surfin' USA," "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl") to the more general California lifestyle songs ("Fun, Fun, Fun," "California Girls," "Help Me Rhonda"), and even ballads ("In My Room," "Don't Worry Baby").

The Beach Boys were the first major American rock band to play behind the Iron Curtain when they performed in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The band attempted more grown-up topics in the late 1960s and, after various tumultuous changes in personnel, continue to tour as a premier nostalgia act. The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Compare this song to songs about cars from other eras:

"Henry's Made a Lady Out of Lizzie" (Unit 6)

"(Get Your Kicks) on Route 66"

"Traffic Jam"

Research the '64 cars to choose one to appeal to teens. Write a radio ad, including music, to sell it to them.