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*4.42-VEGETABLES (Beach Boys)

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson

LISTEN

I'm gonna be round my vegetables.
I'm gonna chow down my vegetables.
I love you most of all,
My favorite vegetable.

     If you brought a big brown bag of them home
     I'd jump up and down and hope you'd toss me a carrot!

I'm gonna keep well my vegetables,
Cart off and sell my vegetables.
I love you most of all
My favorite vegetable.

     I tried to kick the ball but my tennie flew right off.
     I'm red as a beet 'cause I'm so embarrassed.

          [Break: Chomp chomp chomp]

I know that you'll feel better
When you send us in your letter and
Tell us the name of your--
Your favorite vegetable.

[Repeat 3rd verse quickly]


Though recording of Vegetables was begun in October 1966, months before the release of Call Any Vegetable by the Mothers of Invention, there is something of the same whimsy between them. Frank Zappa shows dark humor about the same oddity of human consumption that Brian Wilson makes light of. LSD made the act of eating funny; there was a ridiculous savagery about it. Some people reacted to this sensibility by becoming vegetarian.

The song was variously mixed in Brian Wilson’s home studio. In the first verse, there is only a throbbing electric guitar and a double tracked single voice. The ending of the verse is punctuated with a blow across a bottle, and the sound of a glass of juice being poured. The B section follows with the same base and double tracked voice. The second verse returns with a several voices in harmony, but with no more expansion of the instrumental background. The second verse ends with a scramble of the word vegetable, as if the sound of the word itself were hilarious. The B section returns with new lyrics, but the percussion that has been added comes from somebody biting into celery. (Reportedly, the guy chomping celery was Paul McCartney, though McCartney’s involvement has been disputed.) This percussion extends into a two part break consisting of a voice fantasia. The song is returned to the A stanza with a new lyric, addressing the fans at a slower pace, at first sentimentally like a barber shop quartet, and then repeating the lyric again, in double time. With the verse's accompanying voice chortling in a stylized manner, I'm reminded of a Bruegel-like peasant dance from the age of Camelot.

Again, I wonder about Van Dyke Parks’ influence on the lyrics of this song. Conceptually, it is simple, though the last verses turn attention directly to the listener as a fan. I don’t think that shift in tone is Parks’ influence. Rather he seems to show up in the B sections, replacing “carrot” for the anticipated “bone” of the rhyme, and metaphorizing a beet into an embarrassment.


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