Another one of the few SMiLE tracks that was actually finished during the original SMiLE recording sessions, I feel "Wind Chimes" exemplifies Brian Wilson's emerging fractured emotional state; the song revolves around a childlike obsession with a wind chime while simultaneously invoking some sort of sinister undertone. There is something very 'off' about the song, and in effect I interpret it as being very dark. Is this really just a song about a wind chime? Even though the song was finished in 1966, that recording was scrapped with all of SMiLE and re-recorded from scratch in a minimal fashion for Smiley Smile in 1967
Aside from obviously "Good Vibrations", "Wind Chimes" was the first SMiLE song to be tracked, even before the final sessions of "Good Vibrations" in September 1966. Again recorded in sections, Brian recorded a main verse on August 3rd, 1966, along with a Pickup and Ending section. This arrangement featured a floating celeste, harpsichord and piano in the verse before giving way to a loud chorus of drums, clarinet and saxophone. Following is a breakdown with the three keyboards playing an interlocking melody, with the heavy chorus reprising at the end. Brian later remade most of the sections of this, but his musical ideas for the whole song were already in place.
Brian returned to "Wind Chimes" on October 4th, re-tracking the main verse part lead by a marimba, upright bass and wood block percussion. Brian also recreated the previous session's keyboard breakdown himself, by multitracking various pianos. This process was described by Vosse:
"He took the tail end of "Wind Chimes" - which the way it was originally recorded was, again much more beautiful than on Smiley Smile - and he had a minute and a half tag on it where he took a stand-up tack piano and a grand piano; and, a track at a time, did little music-box overdubs; and then he went in and mixed them with different echoes on different channels into ... I've never heard anything like it… He was doing everything: he had an engineer there just to punch the tape thing, but he'd go in and mix in between. This was mainly done in Western Three, rather than Gold Star Studios which he used for a few things."
At the end of the session, Brian edited together a backing track using the newly-recorded Part 1, the original Chorus from August 3rd, and this new music box Ending. On October 10th, The Beach Boys recorded their vocals for the track, including Carl's lead vocal and the group's bombastic vocals for the chorus. The later was again described by Vosse in 1969:
"He did a great deal on it with blending vocal harmonies using the 8 track, getting things happening with voices that he had not done before, and that I had not heard before ... and since they recorded it in bits and pieces, there were several natural breaks in the song—and Brian did something I've never heard anybody do: by recording everybody and doing the song straight through, and going back to the tape and eliminating voices, he had this little section where voices sounded like little percussion instruments — because he took everything out and would only let one little thing come in at a time, so suddenly there was this break and it was funny, but it worked so well that it built up the rhythm and made the change in such a way that all I can say is he found a new way to make musical changes in a song."
With one song now completed, Brian made a rough mono mix at the end of the session. Unfortunately, this fantastic recording was never actually heard by anyone other than Michael Vosse and other close SMiLE-era associates. Brian re-recorded "Wind Chimes" in a completely stripped-down, bizarre organ-driven arrangement for Smiley Smile in June 1967, which curiously concluded with melodic ideas stolen from another SMiLE casualty, "Holidays". The original "Wind Chimes" was finally heard nearly 20 years later, remixed by Mark Linett (but based off of Brian's original 1966 mono mix) for 1993's Good Vibrations box set. Interestingly enough, Darian & Brain chose to drop the exquisite music box Ending from October 10th in favor of it's original August 3rd ending (a keyboard breakdown followed by a reprise of the Chorus) for Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE, a choice made in the name of an exciting live performance. That arrangement decision carried over onto it's construction on The SMiLE Sessions in 2011. Luckily, Brian's original intent for the song survives in his own 1966 rough mix and Mark Linett's modern remix on the Good Vibrations box.
Last edited by soniclovenoize : 07-30-2017 at 12:36 PM.