The Beach Boys

Don't Worry Baby

Composed by Brian Wilson / Roger Christian

Song Review by

This song is renowned by Beach Boys fans as one of Brian Wilson's finest pre-Pet Sounds achievements. The narrative of "Don't Worry Baby" seems to be another hot-rod epic on the surface, but a closer look at the lyrics reveals a dual-layered narrative: the song's narrator is anxious about a race that he bragged his way into but his thoughts reveal that his deepest fear is losing the love of the girl he depends upon. However, these fears are dashed away by chorus time when she sweetly tells him "Don't worry, baby." The melody that Wilson wraps around the lyric is one of his most soothing: the verses pile on staccato notes that spiral ever higher to keep up with the frantic pace of the verses' lyrics but the melody resolves itself with a transcendentally gorgeous chorus that builds its complex vocal lines on soothing patterns of descending notes. The Beach Boys' recording perfectly captures the song's mixture of swooning emotions and heartfelt romance with a stylish Brian Wilson vocal arrangement: the group's multi-tracked harmonies blend choir-like purity with full-blooded emotion and Brian Wilson's falsetto lead gives the song just the right touch of vulnerability. The instrumentation is kept simple but does its job nicely: throbbing piano lines, insistent drumming, and plucked guitar notes quietly build a necessary tension beneath the deep-dish harmonies. Simply put, the sophistication that infuses every angle of "Don't Worry Baby" makes it one of the Beach Boys' towering achievements. It has also inspired a wide variety of interpretations, the best being B.J. Thomas' country-inflected version and Bryan Ferry's surf rock-meets-Bacharach cover on These Foolish Things. However, the Beach Boys' recording of "Don't Worry Baby" remains the version of choice for many listeners because it captures the swooning emotions inside every teenager's heart in a way that few songs have ever done.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Surfer Girl 1963 EMI Music Distribution
Shut Down, Vol. 2 1964 Capitol/EMI Records 2:50
Beach Boys' Party! 1965 Capitol / EMI / UMG / Universal 0:44
No Image 1967 Capitol
In Concert 1973 Capitol 3:11
No Image 1973 Axis/Capitol
Endless Summer 1974 Capitol 2:48
20 Golden Greats 1976 Capitol
No Image 1978
No Image 1980 Capitol
No Image 1980 Capitol/EMI Records
No Image 1983 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1984 Pair
Made in U.S.A. 1986 Capitol
No Image 1986
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: The Beach Boys - 1962-1967 1988 2:43
Classic Rock: 1964 - Shakin' All Over 1989
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:49
Surfin' Safari/Surfin' U.S.A. 1990 K-Tel 2:51
Concert/Live in London 1990 Capitol 2:59
Surf's Up [Compilation] 1990
Summer Dreams [1990] 1990 EMI
California Gold: The Very Best of the Beach Boys - 40 Classic Tracks 1991
No Image 1991 Capitol
Spring Break [Priority] 1992
Various Artists
Priority Records
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:49
Summer Dreams! [1993] 1993 Capitol
Greatest Hits [Hollywood] 1994 EMI Music Distribution 2:44
My Girl 2 1994
Original Soundtrack
Sony BMG
Stars and Stripes, Vol. 1 1996 Disky 3:18
Greatest Surfing Songs! [Capitol Special Markets] 1997 EMI-Capitol Special Markets / CEMA Special Markets 2:47
Perfect Harmony 1997 EMI Music Distribution / Capitol 2:49
Live in Sacramento 1964, Second Show! 1997 Sea of Tunes 3:20
All Summer Long [Compilation] 1998 EMI Music Distribution 2:47
Back on My Feet Again: Songs of Hope & Inspiration 1998
Various Artists
Relativity 2:47
The Live Box (1965-1968) 1998 Sea of Tunes 3:45
The 60's [Original Television Soundtrack] 1999
Original TV Soundtrack
Mercury / Island/Def Jam / Universal Music 2:46
Capitol Years 1999 EMI Music Distribution 2:49
Greatest 1999 Import 2:45
Never Been Kissed 1999
Original Soundtrack
Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:48
The Greatest Hits, Vol. 2: 20 More Good Vibrations 1999 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:51
No Image 1999 Disky 2:47
Le Meilleur des Beach Boys 1999 EMI Music Distribution 2:45
20 Great Love Songs 2000 Disky 2:47
Greatest Hits 1961-1965, Vol. 1 2000 EMI Music Distribution
Good Vibrations [Sugo] 2000 Sugo
I Love You 2001 EMI Music Distribution / MSI Music Distribution 2:47
The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2001 Capitol 2:50
Classics: Selected by Brian Wilson 2002 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:50
California Dreaming 2002 B.R. 2:46
California Feelin': Best of the Beach Boys 2002 Japanese Import 2:49
No Image 2003 EMI Music Distribution 2:44
American Dreams: Original Soundtrack 1963-1964 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 2:52
Sounds of Summer [Single] 2003 Capitol 2:49
Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2003 Capitol / EMI 2:49
Great Surfin' Songs [3CD] 2003 Platinum Disc 2:47
I Love You [Japanese] 2004 Toshiba 2:47
Platinum Collection: Sounds of Summer Edition 2005 Mixed Repertoire 2:49
Love Love Love 2006
Various Artists
Toshiba EMI
New Woman: Hits from the Chick Flicks 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Summer Crush: Songs We Love to Love 2006 Hear Music 2:49
101 Jukebox Classics 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:47
U.S. Singles Collection: The Capitol Years 1962-1965 2008 Capitol 2:47
Music Ages 2008 Music Ages / Proper Music Distribution 2:45
Earth Angel [Somerset] 2008
Various Artists
Somerset Entertainment 2:49
Summer Love Songs 2009 Capitol 2:51
Greatest Hits [Capitol] 2012 Capitol
Icon 2013 Capitol 2:50
Romancing the '60s [Time] 2013
Various Artists
StarVista / Time/Life Music 2:49
Live in Chicago, 1965 2015 Capitol / Universal 2:57
Independence Day Party 1981 2016 All Access 3:28
Greatest Hits: The Danish Collection Capitol
Groovin': Hits From the 60s
Various Artists
EMI 2:48
No Image Capitol USA 2:47
No Image Spectrum Music
Love & Mercy: The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson [Original Soundtrack]
Original Soundtrack
EMI / Virgin 2:47
Romancing the '60s: This Magic Moment
Various Artists
StarVista 2:49
No Image Capitol 2:45
The Beach Boys [Universe Germany] Universe 2:48
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