#566: She Knows Me Too Well/Wendy by The Beach Boys

Peak Month: September 1964
Wendy: 7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
She Knows Me Too Well: 9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position for both sides: #7
Wendy: Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #44
She Knows Me Too Well: Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #101
YouTube.com link: “She Knows Me Too Well
“She Knows Me Too Well” lyrics
YouTube.com link: “Wendy
“Wendy” lyrics

Brian Wilson was born in Inglewood, California, in 1942. In biographer Peter Ames Carlin’s book, Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, he relates that when Brian Wilson first heard George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” it had a huge emotional impact on him. As a youngster, Wilson learned to play a toy accordion and sang in children’s choirs. In his teens he started a group with his cousin, Mike Love and his brother, Carl. His named the group Carl and the Passions in order to convince his brother to join. They had a performance at Hawthorne High School, where they attended. Among the people in the audience was Al Jardine, another classmate. Jardine was so impressed with the performance that he let the group know. Jardine would later be enlisted, along with Dennis Wilson to form the Pendletones in 1961. The first song Brian Wilson wrote would become “Surfer Girl.” A demo of the tune was made in February 1962 and would go on to be a Top Ten hit when it was released a year later in 1963. However, their first recording was a doo-wop-surf tune called “Surfin’” in October 1961. It was released in November ’61 on the Candix Enterprises Inc. label. The surprise for the group was that the record label had changed the group’s name from the Pendletones to the Beach Boys. Consequently, as each time the record was played by a DJ in America, radio listeners were being introduced to the Beach Boys. The name Pendletones was now history.

In 1962, neighbor David Marks joined the group for their first wave of hits with Capitol Records, leaving in late 1963. In 1965, Bruce Johnston joined the band when Brian Wilson retired from touring to focus on writing and producing for the group. The Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records in July 1962 and released their first album, Surfin’ Safari, later that year. The album spent 37 weeks on the Billboard album chart, launching the young group known for its shimmering vocal harmonies and relaxed California style into international stardom. The Wilson/Love collaboration resulted in many huge international chart hits. Under Brian Wilson’s musical leadership, the band’s initial surf-rock focus was soon broadened to include many other themes, helping make The Beach Boys one of America’s most successful bands of the 1960’s.

The Beach Boys charted 13 Top Ten hits into the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’60’s. This began with “Surfin’ USA” in 1963. The only American pop group in the 1960’s who had more songs chart into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 was The Supremes, who had 18 singles reach that threshold. Though, in Vancouver, the Beach Boys had 23 songs chart into the Top Ten while The Supremes charted 18 songs into the Top Ten in Vancouver on either CKLG or CFUN, making The Beach Boys the top charting American band in Vancouver during the Sixties.

Among the Top Ten hits The Beach Boys charted in Vancouver were “I Get Around” (#3) “Don’t Worry Baby” (#3), Help Me Rhonda” (#2), “Sloop John B” (#2), “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (#1), “Good Vibrations” (#1) and “Barbara Ann” (#2). The B-side to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows,” peaked at #5 on CFUN. Among their Top Ten hits in Vancouver were “She Knows Me Too Well” and “Wendy”.

She Knows Me Too Well/Wendy by The Beach Boys

“She Knows Me Too Well” is a song about a relationship where the woman in a man’s life knows him well enough to know not to look at other guys. Meanwhile, he looks at other women, hunching that for the woman in his life “it must kill her inside.” Just the same he keeps on looking. And he gets jealous of other guys and purposely makes her “break down and cry.” Once she’s in tears over his tone with her, he feels “happy.” We learn more about the narrator of the song when he confides, “I treat her so mean I don’t deserve what I have. And I think that she’ll forgive just by making her laugh.” Elsewhere we learn that he expects her to read his mind and “know what he’s thinking of.”

Chart positions on the C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY were based on both record sales and listener requests. Presumably, for the song to climb to #7 there must have been plenty of young women and young men phoning to request the C-FUN DJ’s to play “She Knows Me Too Well”.

“She Knows Me Too Well” seems threateningly uncomfortable for a healthy relationship, certainly for anyone listening to the song in 2019. Perhaps in 1964 when Brian Wilson wrote this song he was trying to make a laundry list of a guys imperfections. Despite all the red flags about the guy described in the song, we learn that “she can tell I really love her.” The sweet harmonies in this song might make you think the guy really does love her. And maybe he does. However, saying ‘I love you’ can be used as a way to paper over serious problems with attitudes and behaviors that call into question what ‘I love you’ means. Most people in a relationship want to feel loved and respected in the course of daily living, not just when one partner says ‘I love you.’

In an article titled “10 Signs Your Relationship Is Sucking the Life Out Of You,” Jenn Scalia writes one of the warning signs is “When you wake up every morning, you don’t know which person you’re going to get — the loving, kind, beautiful person you fell in love with or the one who is irrational, mean and insecure.” For the guy in “She Knows Me Too Well” he is aware he treats the woman in his life “mean.” When he recognizes he’s being mean, he doesn’t apologize or sit down and ask her how she is and how she is feeling. Instead, he just tries to make her laugh, which is a distraction. After the laughter is over, she is likely trying to process his random acts of meanness.

Another warning sign is that you are crying on a daily basis. In the song it is made clear that while he can look at other girls, she’d be in trouble if she looked at other guys. And with a boyfriend (or husband) who so easily becomes jealous of other guys, her tears could be tears of anxiety due to his emotional insecurity.

The flip side to “She Knows Me Too Well” was a song titled “Wendy”.

She Knows Me Too Well/Wendy by The Beach Boys

“Wendy” is a song about a relationship that is over. Wendy makes her boyfriend cry when she leaves him for “another guy.” Apparently, the other guy is a smooth talker, and the narrator pleads that with her to not “believe a word he says.” In an attempt to lure Wendy back to him, the ex-boyfriend says “I can’t picture you with him. His future looks awful dim.” But by the end of the song Wendy is not back in his arms again. He tells her “I wouldn’t hurt you like that,” in reference to her leaving him. However, by the end of the song all we know is that Wendy left him to be alone, and that she’s made it with this other guy. Whatever looks “awful dim” to the ex-boyfriend likely isn’t what Wendy sees in her new steady beau.

The Beach Boys were at the top of their popularity into the mid-60’s. They released their hit album, Pet Sounds, in May 1966, with  the hits “God Only Knows,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Sloop John B” all doing well on the pop charts, especially in Vancouver. It was their ninth of ten successive albums that made the Top Ten in the Billboard 200 Album charts. 1966 was also the year The Beach Boys had their #1 hit, “Good Vibrations,” which was their third #1 hit in three years.

From 1967 onward, The Beach Boys chart successes were sporadic. However, they have continued to tour over the decades. They have had four singles – “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “In My Room” and “I Get Around” – and one album, Pet Sounds, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame between 1994 and 2017. Between July 13, 2018, and September 6, 2019, The Beach Boys have scheduled 80 concert dates across twenty-one states in the USA, as well as concert dates in Canada, the UK., Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Spain.

May 10, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
The Beach Boys – About, The Beach Boys.com
Jeff Slate, How Brian Wilson Found Inspiration in the Artists Working Beside Him, Esquire, New York, October 11, 2016
Tony Asher Interview, Surfer Moon.com April 4, 1996
Wilson, Brian with Greenman, Ben. I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir. DeCapo Press. Boson, MA, 2016
Lambert, Philip. Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys’ Founding Genius. Continuum International Publishing, New York, 2007.
The Beach Boys Concert Dates, The Beach Boys.com
C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY, C-FUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, September 12, 1964.
Jenn Scalia, “10 Signs Your Relationship Is Sucking the Life Out Of You,” Thought Catalogue, September 15, 2014.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

 

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