June 17, 2016

The Beach Boys’ “All This Is That”, from their unheralded and oddly-named Carl and the Passions – Tough” album from 1972, is considered by many to be the group’s equivalent (if not answer to) the Beatles’ “Across The Universe”. And there are similarities between the two songs, both in theme of streams of inner consciousness (ATO’s the exhilaration and experience of it, ATIT’s the pursuit of and the paths taken in its pursuit). And both songs exude a sense of calm, inner peace, joy, and of being one within the world. What a great concept, and so much needed these days! I think about the hip-hop and rap crap that they call “music” these days (actually it’s music spelled N-O-I-S-E) and how these songs compare, well, it’s no wonder our world has gotten so coarse, harsh, and unforgiving.

“All This is That” was a group effort both in terms of composition and song development that was originally based off of an idea band member Alan Jardine had after reading reading the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken”. And you can see a bit of similarity between the two. First, the Frost poem:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Then, “All This Is That”‘s lyric:

I am that, thou art that, and all this is that
I am that, thou art that, all this is that
This is that
This is that

Daybreak and I take a glide
Into the pool of peace inside
(Two waves travel by)
To waves and I both travel by
(And that makes all the difference to me)

Life supporting waves of bliss
Mother Divine’s precious kiss
Brings with love the light of wisdom
And the gift of eternal freedom

To waves and I both travel by
(… and the nature of man…)
And that makes all the difference to me
I am that, thou art that, all this is that
I am that, thou art that, all this is that
This is that
This is that

Dusk time the shadows fall
Into the timeless time of all
To waves and I both travel by
Golden auras glow around you
Omnipresent love surrounds you
Wisdom warming as the sun
You and I are truly one

To waves and I both travel by
And that makes all the difference to me

Jai guru dev

While the song poem itself is lovely, what stands out the most in “All This Is That” is the song’s understated, yet gorgeous arrangement and the lovely harmonies throughout. I’m guessing, but not 100% sure of it, that this is one of the songs on So Tough that doesn’t feature any contribution whatsoever from group founder and creative muse Brian Wilson, who by this time had retreated pretty much to his bedroom for what would be a few years’ time. Instead, it’s brother Carl’s lead vocal, and especially his angelic “Jai Guru Dev” tag that closes out the song awash in echo, that makes the song such a standout. Taken together, the end result is stunning and a work of beauty pretty much unmatched in the Beach Boys’ catalog and career.

Interesting, there is another version of All This Is That out on YouTube worth mentioning. This one, performed live in 1993, features a quicker time and a bouncier (if that’s the word) arrangement, but it shows just how a song can be translated from studio to live performance and remain intact in spirit.

“All This Is That” was a staple of early FM radio play in the early ’70s, but, just as I wrote in my previous post along these same lines, I think The Beach Boys missed a golden opportunity by not including this on the first 45 RPM single released from the album as a B side to the album’s standout track, “Marcella”. “Marcella”, a Brian Wilson composition originally written about a masseuse but cleaned up by the band for public consumption, is a minor classic; had it been the first release (and especially with “All This Is That” as the B side) the band might have been seen as continuing the comeback effort begun with their previously-released album, Surf’s Up. Instead, the initial single chosen, “You Need A Mess of Help To Stand Alone” (a mild rocker featuring a gritty Carl Wilson vocal) backed with “Cuddle Up” (a Dennis Wilson mini-masterpiece) sank like a stone. And by that time, the album itself, unfortunately released as a double-album with 1966’s Pet Sounds (a marketing disaster if there ever was one), followed the same path.

It would take nearly two more years and the widely-acclaimed album Holland with its spunky single “Sail On Sailor” to rejuvenate the band’s fortunes.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:47 | Comments (2)
  1. You are all things Beach Boys and I learn something new from you. Thanks for the insights and tidbits

    Comment by Jana — June 18, 2016 @ 4:12 am

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 19, 2016 @ 6:20 am

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