Uncovering the Cornfield: Revisions of History in Smile's 'Cabin Essence'

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Observers agree that a pivotal factor in the abandonment of the Beach Boys’ Smile album in 1967 was the hostility shown by group members to some of Brian Wilson co-writer Van Dyke Parks’s lyrics. The latter still tend, however, to be cited more than they are analyzed. This reading of the song occasioning most friction – ‘Cabin Essence’ – argues that it was neither disorganized nor unintelligible. An encapsulation of Smile’s concerns informed by the new left and counter-cultural contexts of its creation, it offered critical snapshots of the nation’s historical experience and identity, and a complex vision of national redemption.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPopular Music & Society
Volume38
Issue5
Pages (from-to)565–585
Number of pages21
ISSN0300-7766
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • Van Dyke Parks, Smile, Brian Wilson, Beach Boys, Popular Music

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