The Beach Boys

Busy Doin' Nothin'

Composed by Brian Wilson

Song Review by

This airy bossa nova is proof that although Brian Wilson’s psyche may have been crumbling in the wake of his abandonment of the SMiLE (1967) project, he was still able to create beautiful and effective pop songs -- even from the most mundane day-to-day existence. In much the same manner that the genre defining Pet Sounds (1966) had done two years prior, the Friends (1968) album was chocked full of more introverted material -- such as the pious “Meant For You” opener and the pair of Dennis Wilson tunes “Little Bird” and “Be Still”. “Busy Doin’ Nothin’ ” -- one of only two Brian Wilson solo compositions on the disc -- seemingly recounts the admittedly “scrambled” contents of the eldest Wilson brother’s business and social calendars. Even the minutia of recollecting “What a hot sticky day/The air is cooling down” or “I get a lot of thoughts in the morning/I write 'em all down/If it wasn't for that/I'd forget 'em in a while” are perfect fodder for this reflective and conciliatory cut. The intimate nature of the lyrics are likewise furthered as the author offers directions to his home -- presuming one knows where to commence: “Drive for a couple miles/You'll see a sign and turn left/For a couple blocks/Next is mine, you'll turn left on a little road/It's a bumpy one/You'll see a white fence/Move the gate and drive through on the left side …”. Although Brian had actively discontinued his role as primary songwriter and producer of the Beach Boys, the rest of the band cut the album in his custom built home studio while the once fiercely independent workhorse stayed holed up in his bedroom. The instrumentation on this track is notable for reuniting Wilson with some of his favourite support musicians -- many of which hearken back to his early-to-mid ‘60s recordings with members of the Wrecking Crew.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Friends 1968 Capitol 3:04
Friends/20/20 1990 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 3:05
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 3:04
Capitol Years 1999 EMI Music Distribution 3:00
Classics: Selected by Brian Wilson 2002 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 3:05
California Feelin': Best of the Beach Boys 2002 Japanese Import 3:05
Made in California 2013 Capitol 3:06
blue highlight denotes editor's pick