5 Mentions of Diamonds in the Music of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson

The Beach Boys have been riding a mighty wave this summer: Not only have the group’s surviving members reunited for a 50th anniversary tour that has won rave reviews, but their newest album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, is their highest-charting effort in 37 years. So how many times has America’s band sung about America’s favorite gem, the diamond? Well, imaginary person who asks rhetorical questions, you’ll find out in the fun, fun, fun list below:

1. “Surf’s Up” (1967)

“A diamond necklace played the pawn” begins this melancholy song suite, meant as the centerpiece for the ill-fated—but recently released—Beach Boys SMiLE album. During recording sessions, Wilson instructed percussionists to “sound like jewelry.”

2. “All I Want to Do” (1969)

On this very un–Beach Boys track from the group’s 20/20 album, drummer Dennis Wilson says the object of his affection “ain’t got time for diamonds” and “pay[s] no mind to gold.” To get a sense of what she is perhaps a little more interested in, listen very carefully for the song’s X-rated fade-out, allegedly recorded live in the studio.

3. “The One You Can’t Have” (1963)

In the sole semi-hit from the Beach Boys “sister group,” the Honeys, lead singer Marilyn Rovell complains that while one poor soul who “wants to buy [her] a diamond ring,” her real love lies with the one she can’t have. We hope they really lied with Brian Wilson, whom she married the next year.

4. “Midnight’s Another Day” (2008)

All those looking for references to diamonds in Brian Wilson songs—not that anyone else is likely to do this—will find Wilson’s recent solo album, That Lucky Old Sun, a gold mine (pardon the expression): They pop up in two songs, one spoken cut, and this heartfelt ballad—considered the album’s highlight. Here, Wilson sighs that someone, or maybe just life, “took the diamond from my soul. And turned it back into coal.” And who would want that?

5. “Hold Back Time” (1995)

From Orange Crate Art, a sweetly tuneful album which reunited Brian Wilson with SMiLE collaborator Van Dyke Parks, this upbeat charmer talks about memories that “scatter like diamonds of rain, down our old blacktop two-lane”—a reference to the film that starred Brian’s late brother Dennis.


“Heigh Ho” (2011)

While Wilson’s recent cover of Heigh Ho on his In the Key of Disney album does not mention diamonds, it is about a group of people (or more specifically, dwarves) who work in a diamond mine. So we’ll include as a bonus track. Heigh ho!


More diamond fives:

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