Brian’s Hidden Beauties XXIII: Break Away

Break Away is probably on the margins on what I would include in the “Hidden Beauties” section – it was a biggish UK hit (#6) and often features on the second tier compilations like the upcoming Warmth Of The Sun, but it bombed in the USA and isn’t exactly in the top list of songs that the public would associate with the Beach Boys. And I want to talk about the song, and that is really reason enough….

It’s a bizarre song in a way, as it is co-credited to Murray Wilson (under the name Reggie Dunbar), Brian’s dad who was still involved despite all the water under the bridge during the Beach Boys year of success. It is ostensibly a song celebrating a life of joy after someone realised they had the power within to break out of a life of loneliness. But when the song talks about “voices in my head”, there seems a chilling closeness to the mental problems that Brian had.

Musically, it is stunning, with verses that build-up, a catchy chorus and then that harmonic surge at the end. There seems to be so much going on, yet all of it is achieved in less than 3 minutes. It is also an incredibly complicated song, and it was a joy to hear that Brian and his band were attempting in concert. And it was an even greater joy when he pulled it off at the Adelphi show that I saw in London last November. It was actually one of two moments I was almost in tears (the other was Caroline No).

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