That’s Why God Made The Radio Track-by-track XI: Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway proves that length doesn’t matter – in somewhat less than two minutes and barely fifty words, we get a pocket symphony that mirrors the very depth of the ocean in the title.

It reminds me of Scott Walker’s On Your Own Again, another astonishing, short song of loss. Of course, another invocation is right back at the other end of the Beach Boys’ canon – Lonely Sea.

It has been mentioned that this song has been inspired by the passing of Dennis Wilson, whose life and death was so connected with the Pacific. But overall, the song continues the contrast between beauty and loss, as the singer is inspired by the beauty of a sunset drive on the Pacific Coast Highway, while reflecting on life and losing someone. The realization that “I’m better off alone” is somewhat chilling, but at the same time, maybe you can sense that Brian realizes he needs to find strength in himself, rather than being used by others, after the passing of his close family.

The overall tone of the song is melancholy, but as with the previous song, there is hope, nay joy in the beauty of the track. The end is just about the perfect marriage of musical and lyrical imagery; the sunset on the coast, the stunning melody line, the closing harmony.

It’s a stunning song -following From There To Back Again, the best one-two punch on a Beach Boys record since ‘Til I Die and Surf’s Up. And the knockout blow is still to come….

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