SMiLE Track-By-Track VI: Cabin Essence

This is the track that inspired a website..this one! Cabin Essence is a vast expanse of a song, ranging from the intimacy of the log cabin to the vastness of the Grand Coulee Dam and the truck driver travelling over a vast expanse. Again, we are looking at the growth in America; the expansion west and the industrialisation of the country. As in Heroes And Villians, there is a dichotomy between the benefits of progress and the possible lost innocence of a changing country.

As with much of Van Dykes Parks works, the lyrics work on a level of a feeling created, rather than every line making sense, and this created the famous altercation where Mike Love dismissed the line about the “crow cries uncover the cornfield” as nonsense. However, in the wider context of the song, and particularly the completed album, one can see again the sense of contrast and wide expanses being created,

Musically, the song switches between the intimate “fire mellow” section, with it’s intricate and homely melody, and the vast “who ran the iron horse?” section. It’s a powerful musical statement and a fitting close to the first section of SMiLE.

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