The Beach Boys were innocence on sun-dappled water, reflecting an optimistic vision of life that we once took for granted. For me, they were a part of growing up in Redondo Beach, close to Disneyland and Hollywood, watching TV shows like Donna Reed and Leave it to Beaver in which moms wore shirt-waist dresses, heels, and nylons in the kitchen while preparing dinner in anticipation of husbands returning from work.
The Beach Boys represented youth, surfing culture, first kisses on the beach, and submersion into an effervescent seawater-y existence that cushioned the impact of our terrestrial lives. America, it seemed, was a place we could feel good about and be proud of. Listening to their concert at the bowl Monday night reunited me with those feelings, but not nostalgically. It had seemed like an easier time; but now I see it as more of a pre-shit-hitting-the-fan period in which reality was still incubating on the back-burner, maturing for its upcoming hatching out in the form of the Viet Nam War, the Black Panther Party, and political assassinations. Television adjusted by inserting body counts into the nightly news, reassuring us that multiples of North Vietnamese were being killed compared to Americans.
The Beach Boys showed us who we thought we were, innocent celebrants of the right way of life. They sounded great on Monday night, their harmonies levitational. I could not fully escape back into memories of sparkling blue waves, but their music brought a respite of grace for hearts burdened with the realities of “now.”