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12.21-FEEL FLOWS (Beach Boys)

Beach Boys

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Unfolding enveloping missiles of soul
Recall senses sadly.
Mirage-like soft blue-like lanterns below
To light the way gladly.

        Whether whistling heaven's clouds disappear
        Where the wind withers memory
        Whether whiteness whisks soft shadows away
        Feel flows (White hot glistening shadowy flows)
        Feel goes (Black hot glistening shadowy flows).

Unbending never ending tablets of time
Record all the yearning.
Unfearing all-appearing message divine
Eases the burning.

        Whether willing witness waits at my mind
        Whether hope dampens memory
        Whether wondrous will stands tall at my side
        Feel flows (White hot glistening shadowy flows)
        Feel goes (Black hot glistening shadowy flows).

        [Break]

Encasing all-embracing wreath of repose
Engulfs all the senses.
Imposing, unclosing thoughts that compose
Retire defenses.

        Whether wholly heartened life fades away
        Whether harps heal the memory
        Whether wholly heartened life fades away
        Whether wondrous will stands tall at my side
        Whether whiteness whisks soft shadows away
        Feel goes (White hot glistening shadowy flows)
        Feel flows (Black hot glistening shadowy flows)
        Feel goes (White hot glistening shadowy flows)
        Feelings to grow (White hot glistening shadowy flows).

        White hot glistening shadowy flows. (3x)


Cameron Crowe employed Feel Flows for the final credits of his film Almost Famous. Crowe said of the song: “Carl and Jack Rieley followed up their Long Promised Road collaboration with the powerfully atmospheric Surf’s Up cut Feel Flows. Continuing in a spiritual vein, Rieley penned impressionistic lyrics seemingly about the soul overcoming real-world sorrow. Whether it was poetry or 'wacked out meandering' — as Village Voice critic Robert Christgau panned — Rieley’s alliterative lines are wonderfully musical and delivered with conviction by Carl. Most remarkable is Carl’s production. The recording features an eerie forward echo on his vocal and an organ part run through a Moog synthesizer and then played back simultaneously with the original instrument. He also applied a variable-speed oscillator to the piano track for an out-of-tune sound and laid down a menacing guitar break… Noted jazz musician Charles Lloyd, a Transcendental Meditation practitioner who played with the group throughout the decade, added flute and saxophone — the finishing touches to a stylistic tour de force that displayed a level of creativity not heard from the group since SMiLE.” [Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story (Mark Dillon 2012), p. 191, quoted in the website The Uncool]

Between Jack Rieley and Van Dyke Parks the album Surf’s Up was certainly serving up some unusual lyrics. Rieley’s work in Feel Flows is alliterative in the extreme, an example of sound being pleasing without making a whole lot of rational sense. The song has an impressive rhetorical structure that allows a buildup of parallels that add more force to the closing resolution. However that resolution, sung staccato, vacillates between “white hot” and “black hot”. This suggests the oscillation of “vibrations” but finally settles on sticking with white (that most psychedelic of colors) without any why or wherefore. In fact, Feel Flows suggests a revision of the Beach Boys psychedelic glory days with Good Vibrations, and like that number one hit, some unusual technologies are employed. In the final analysis, though, Feel Flows is not nearly as complex musically as Good Vibrations, preferring to drone without much structural variation. In a jazz manner, improvisations by guitar, sax, and flute are recorded over a steady flow during the break.

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