Surf's Up
The Beach Boys Lyrics


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A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the opera glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columinated ruins domino
Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping?

Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumpeter swan
Columinated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-Step to lamp lights cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne

The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die

A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry

Surf's up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song

Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
A children's song
Have you listened as they played
Their song is love
And the children know the way
That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child
Child, child, child, child, child
Na na na na na na na na
Child, child, child, child, child




That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child

Overall Meaning

The Beach Boys' song Surf's Up features a series of disconnected, abstract images that create an impressionistic picture of American life in the 1960s. The lyrics are about disconnected and seemingly meaningless images, but when they all combine, a deeper meaning arises. The song's opening lines, "A diamond necklace played the pawn, Hand in hand some drummed along" suggest that people have given up their individuality in pursuit of material wealth, and are blindly following a "handsome man and baton." This can be interpreted as a commentary on how people follow societal norms due to social pressure, irrespective of their personal beliefs.


The lyrics then dive into the idea of an archaic, blind class aristocracy represented by "the opera glass" in the second verse. The image of the "pint and pendulum" can be seen as a metaphor for the oppressive nature of this social class structure. The third verse alludes to art, specifically, music, and its relationship to fading memories. The once vibrant music hall featured in the song is now a "columinated ruin." "The muted trumpeter swan" might represent artists whose voices are no longer heard.


The chorus features seemingly random imagery as well, but there is an underlying message. "Surf's up" can be interpreted as a call to action to join the waves of change. "The young" in this chorus might also refer to a new generation who can move beyond the oppression of the past to create a better future. The song's overall message is one of hope for a future where people are free to live their lives, pursue their dreams, and create a better world for all.


Line by Line Meaning

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Material wealth was used as leverage to manipulate and control others.


Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
People were blindly following the crowd and participating in something without question.


To a handsome man and baton
The person in power was successful and charismatic, but also exerting their control over others.


A blind class aristocracy
The upper class was ignorant and privileged, but not using their resources to help those around them.


Back through the opera glass you see
Looking through the lens of high society, one can see the truth behind their actions.


The pit and the pendulum drawn
The battle between opposing forces was intense and imminent.


Columinated ruins domino
The destruction of one thing led to the destruction of many others.


Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Examine the surroundings and context to fully understand what is happening.


Are you sleeping?
Are you aware of what is happening around you?


Hung velvet overtaken me
The allure of luxury and excess has consumed me.


Dim chandelier awaken me
I need to be extra aware of what is going on, despite the distractions around me.


To a song dissolved in the dawn
The passage of time changes everything, including the things we hold dear.


The music hall a costly bow
Entertainment may bring joy, but it often comes at a great cost.


The music all is lost for now
We cannot find joy in the things that used to give it to us.


To a muted trumpeter swan
The beautiful song of an otherwise successful and talented person is not enough to bring joy and meaning.


Columinated ruins domino
The destruction of one thing led to the destruction of many others.


Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Examine the surroundings and context to fully understand what is happening.


Are you sleeping, Brother John?
Are you ignorant to what is happening around you, despite the chaos and destruction?


Dove nested towers the hour was
At a peaceful and idyllic moment, destruction and chaos are imminent.


Strike the street quicksilver moon
The magical moment is over and the harsh reality of what is happening sets in.


Carriage across the fog
Moving through life blindly, unable to see the danger ahead.


Two-Step to lamp lights cellar tune
Finding joy in small and simple pleasures, despite the chaos around us.


The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne
Amidst devastation and destruction, we still find moments of joy and humor.


The glass was raised, the fired rose
As we celebrate, destruction and chaos are looming.


The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
Despite everything, we try to find joy in what we still have.


While at port adieu or die
Whether we say goodbye to what we knew or end up staying, our fate is uncertain.


A choke of grief heart hardened I
Even in the face of intense grief, we must remain strong and unyielding.


Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry
The situation is so overwhelming that even someone who is broken cannot express their sadness through tears.


Surf's up
The situation is at its peak and about to break.


Aboard a tidal wave
The immense momentum of events is unstoppable.


Come about hard and join
Despite the chaos, there is still a chance to change direction and join together to make a difference.


The young and often spring you gave
Youthful energy and rejuvenation can be a catalyst for change.


I heard the word
The message of change is spreading and being heard.


Wonderful thing
Being part of the change for the better is a wonderful thing.


A children's song
The message of change can be conveyed in a simple and innocent manner.


Child, child, child, child, child
We are all children at heart, with the potential to change and do better.


A child is the father of the man
The lessons learned in childhood shape who we become as adults.


Have you listened as they played
Listen to the message of change being conveyed through simple things like children's songs.


Their song is love
The message of change is based on love and compassion.


And the children know the way
The message of change is simple and pure, and children can understand it better than adults.


That's why the child is the father to the man
The lessons we learn in childhood shape who we become as adults, and we must listen to the message of love and compassion to make a better world.


Na na na na na na na na
This simple refrain is a reminder to focus on the message of change and hold onto hope amidst chaos.




Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing
Written by: Brian Douglas Wilson, Van Dyke Parks

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Les lumb

Love Good Vibrations ,God Only Knows however this is my fav Beach Boys song

Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@MilkshakeEnthusiast1992

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the opera glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columinated ruins domino
Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping?
Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumpeter swan
Columinated ruins domino
Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?
Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-Step to lamp lights cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne
The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die
A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry
Surf's up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song
Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
Child, child, child, child, child
A child is the father of the man
A children's song
Have you listened as they played
Their song is love
And the children know the way
That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child
Child, child, child, child, child
Na na na na na na na na
Child, child, child, child, child
That's why the child is the father to the man
Child, child, child, child, child



@LyonsArcade

This is the best version of the song, because of the circumstances of it's recording, and the end tag and the way it was originally mixed, presented here.

AS I understand it, and some of this may just be folklore, but the original recording was just the instrumental . This is what the Beach Boys heard. It's only the first half of the song, though.... soon after it was recorded, the band broke up for a litle bit because a lot was going on, a few days later Brian recorded a piano demo of the song, double tracking his own lead voice.

The interesting thing is, at the end of the song, he doubles up the tempo on the piano and starts singing a high falsetto.

Years later when the band needed material for the album that became Surf's Up, i believe Carl had the idea to try to finish the song... the incredible melody and recording of the instrumental for the first half, didn't quite match the tempo of Brian's solo piano piece. So at the time there was no way to fix this, so Carl simply resang Brian's vocals from the piano piece, over the instrumental. When they got to the second half of the song, they simply used Brian's piano demo (since they didn't have an instrumental anyways).... Brian was unhappy with this, because he felt the end of the song wasn't finished, so he had all of the boys sing the harmony parts over the end that they were supposed to sing during the Smile sessions.

So you get this incredible moment, where the vocals punch in that are overdubbed, and you go from what Brian was presenting to the outside world, his piano demo, to what he was hearing in his head, an entire 5 part harmony that's fairly mind blowing. On top of that, his high harmony that he sang on the original tape, of course fits into the harmony that he has the rest of them sing perfectly years later. No doubt he could clearly hear their parts in his mind when he recorded the piano demo.

Just beautiful!



@endthedrugwartoday

A diamond necklace played the pawn
Hand in hand some drummed along, oh
To a handsome man and baton
A blind class aristocracy
Back through the opera glass you see
The pit and the pendulum drawn
Columnated ruins domino

Hung velvet overtaken me
Dim chandelier awaken me
To a song dissolved in the dawn
The music hall a costly bow
The music all is lost for now
To a muted trumperter swan
Columnated ruins domino

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Dove nested towers the hour was
Strike the street quicksilver moon
Carriage across the fog
Two-Step to lamp lights cellar tune
The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne

The glass was raised, the fired rose
The fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting
While at port adieu or die

A choke of grief heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song



All comments from YouTube:

@johnrenaud2216

Composer Leonard Bernstein claims this is the best piece of rock and roll music ever made. He made that quote 50 years ago almost to the date. Brian Wilson was 50 years ahead of his time in 1971 what a masterpiece from a true genius.

@luckykennedy7364

It was recorded 1967 really. It was released in 1971.

@BRNRDNCK

Do you have a source for this?

@exigency2231

@Lucky Kennedy and re-recorded slightly in 71, they changed a fair bit. Tbh I don’t really like Brian’s lead so I’m glad they did

@UncleWilliam

@@BRNRDNCKyou can find it in the smile sessions

@saraoppenheim176

Probably the documentary INSIDE POP...
@@BRNRDNCK

2 More Replies...

@peterbartlett9459

A Masterpiece. One of the greatest achievements in the genre.

@gregoryprusak8130

I keep saying that America should try what the Japanese already do...declare some people as "National Treasures" and Brian would be on that list...along with Holland-Dozier-Holland (Motown greats) among others...

@johnbrowne2170

Pet Sounds is great, but Surfs Up is even better.

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