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*1.22-I JUST WASN'T MADE FOR THESE TIMES (Beach Boys)

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson

LISTEN

I keep looking for a place to fit in
Where I can speak my mind.
I've been trying hard to find the people
That I won't leave behind.

     They say I got brains
     But they ain't doing me no good.
     I wish they could;

          Each time things start to happen again
          I think I got something good goin' for myself
          But what goes wrong?

               Sometimes I feel very sad.
               Sometimes I feel very sad.
               (Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into.)
               Sometimes I feel very sad.
               (Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into.)

               I guess I just wasn't made for these times.

Every time I get the inspiration
To go change things around
No one wants to help me look for places
Where new things might be found.

     Where can I turn
     When my fair weather friends cop out?
     What's it all about?

          [Repeat C Section]

               [Chorus]

[Break]

               [Last line of chorus (5x)]


The lyric to I Just Wasn't Made For These Times is the twin to I Know There's An Answer, speaking to the adolescent feeling of not fitting in, that no one seems to share his enthusiasms. "They say I got brains..." especially sounds like parents have been telling their son to use his head. The poet argues that he is using his head, but to have a vision rather than to implement ordinary intelligence--it's the protection of his heart and his soul that the poet is worried about. His heart and soul can't seem to find anything in ordinary reality to commit to. He seems to be in the delicate spot of knowing there must be more to life but not being able to find it.

There have been a few times that non-White friends of mine have heard Pet Sounds for the first time in my presence and each made the same comment about Wasn't Made For These Times--that the attitude expressed in the song seemed to be repugnantly self-indulgent. Their shared response was that the lyrics to the song expressed weak excuses for giving up on the struggle of self-realization and sulking in depression. They both seemed to imply that in poverty one isn't able to tolerate such a defeatist point of view and that the song expresses a petulance that is only acceptable through White privilege. I don't contest their responses. At the same time, I'm aware of the power of LSD to give one the sense of having lived before in another era; there's something about the psychedelic experience that makes one susceptible to believing in reincarnation and having memory of past lives. Perhaps this was what fueled Brian Wilson's lyric, which supposes he might have been born into the wrong aesthetic period.

Again, there's the musical complexity of an A, B and C parts, with an extensive chorus that is broken out from the final line for the ending of the song. The musical break for Wasn't Made For These Times introduces the sound of a theremin for the first time in popular music. The keyboard-controlled variation of the theremin on this record sounds like a Beach Boy with an extraordinarily high pitched angelic voice. Brian Wilson would go on to use a variation on the theremin again (called a Tannerin) in Good Vibrations for a different, slightly more sinister effect. The break also incorporates the use of percussive instruments that have a hollow, falling effect, suggesting to my ears Asian wood blocks.

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