The Beach Boys

The Little Girl I Once Knew

Composed by Brian Wilson

Song Review by

One of the most important Brian Wilson/Beach Boys obscurities, "The Little Girl I Once Knew" is a virtual link between the slightly progressive work on songs such as "California Girls" and the then-quantum leap taken by Wilson on Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations." One of Brian Wilson's first efforts at composing a song that is strung together from "feels" or very brief musical movements. The opening hook is a veritable appetizer to Pet Sounds in its circular riff that intertwines guitars and keyboards. The main melody is propelled by a pseudo-rockabilly riff that Wilson would soon use to even greater effect on "Good Vibrations." Lyrically, it's a simple teenage pop song that, frankly, is somewhat trivial, yet its vulnerability and charm certainly shine through. Unfortunately, the song's eccentric stop-start melodic sections (including several sections of complete silence) was a bit too much for radio programmers. Nevertheless, the song actually made it into the Top 20 in late 1965. The durability of the song is illustrated best by the fact that Brian Wilson opened his 1999 solo concerts with it.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1968 Capitol
Spirit of America 1975 Capitol 2:38
No Image 1983 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1987 Capitol
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: The Beach Boys - 1962-1967 1988 2:38
Today!/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) 1990 Capitol 2:39
Summer Dreams [1990] 1990 EMI
California Gold: The Very Best of the Beach Boys - 40 Classic Tracks 1991
The Absolute Best, Vol. 2 1991 Capitol/EMI Records
No Image 1992 EMI-Capitol Special Markets
Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys 1993 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:37
Summer Dreams! [1993] 1993 Capitol
Capitol Years 1999 EMI Music Distribution 2:36
The Greatest Hits, Vol. 2: 20 More Good Vibrations 1999 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:36
No Image 1999 Disky 2:37
Greatest Hits 1961-1965, Vol. 1 2000 EMI Music Distribution
California Dreamin' 2001 Disky 2:37
Hawthorne, CA 2001 Capitol 2:33
Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of the Beach Boys 2003 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 2:34
Platinum Collection: Sounds of Summer Edition 2005 EMI Music Distribution 2:38
The Warmth of the Sun 2006 Capitol/EMI Records 2:34
Fifty Big Ones: Greatest Hits 2012 Capitol / EMI Catalogue 2:36
Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour 2013 Capitol / Cobalt Music/ Helladisc S.A. / EMI / Universal / Universal Division Az 3:09
Made in California 2013 Capitol 2:34
blue highlight denotes editor's pick