Beach Boys



I know perfectly well
I'm not where I should be.
I've been very aware
You've been patient with me.

     Every time we break up
     You bring back your love to me.
     And after all I've done to you
     How can it be

     You still believe in me.

I try hard to be more
What you want me to be.
But I can't help how I act
When you're not here with me.

     I try hard to be strong
     But sometimes I fail myself.
     And after all I've promised you
     So faithfully

     You still believe in me.

          [Coda: I wanna cry...]

Originally this song was called In My Childhood until Tony Asher took the tune and wrote new lyrics for it. It was the first song Brian Wilson had written with him, but from the success of this lyric he wrote several more songs in conjunction with Asher for Pet Sounds, who also helped on the lyric for Good Vibrations. It is said that the bicycle horn heard toward the end of You Still Believe in Me is a leftover from the "In My Childhood" concept. Childhood would form the basis of several successful psychedelic songs, but as yet the topic apparently didn't seem quite appropriate. [Ray Davies of the Kinks has said that See My Friends was inspired by childhood memories, where friends "play across the river", but that song was not popular in the United States.]

The lyrics express an adolescent insecurity that seems to permeate Pet Sounds, and develop further a theme taken up in the 1964 Beach Boys song She Knows Me Too Well. The fragility of the poet in the lyric is made so tender as to pull on the heartstrings by the delicate harpsichord sounding music similar to that of a music box. To achieve the unique sound in the introduction, Tony Asher explained that "We were trying to do something that would sound sort of, I guess, like a harpsichord but a little more ethereal than that. I am plucking the strings by leaning inside the piano and Brian is holding down the notes on the keyboard so they will ring when I pluck them. I plucked the strings with paper clips, hairpins, bobby pins and several others things until Brian got the sound he wanted." [From Brad Elliott: Pet Sounds Track Notes for the Beach Boys Fan Club (1999)] The structure of the song is such that the rather traditional A section becomes stretched out in another key for the B section without a lyric repetition, leading to a one line slow refrain. At the end of the song is a coda fugue that plays on the refrain with different modulations, diminishing in volume in order to surprise with a crescendo and then, after an almost complete stop, the melody suddenly revives to the sound of bass clarinet and plucked strings to trail off into wordless vocal harmonies.