Music: Out of the Sandbox

There was a time in the stone age before the Beatles, as Pop Critic Richard Goldstein once put it, when everybody under 20 seemed to be searching for the "perfect wave." Along with hot-rods and sports cars, surfboards had become both means and metaphor for the new, rootless mobility of the American young. In Southern California especially, sunning, surfing, chasing chicks, gobbling Cha-Cha burgers, even watching TV became life values worth celebrating.

No pop group celebrated those slender but seductive values more lovingly than the Beach Boys. Theirs was a soft, euphonious music—intricate, warm layers of bell-like harmonies over calm, steady rock...

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