What can I say about Pet Sounds that you guys don’t already know? This album is a classic, it was probably the last great thing Brian Wilson did that was commercially successful for a long time while he was battling mental illness, it helped push the Beatles into making Revolver, and it is one of the tapes I’ve had the longest.

I inherited Pet Sounds. My dad owned a lot of tapes, tapes were the preferred medium for music listening when I was learning to crawl, and so my dad had a few tapes that he listened to repeatedly. One of them was/is the copy of Pet Sounds that I currently possess.

Pet Sounds is song after song of pure, unadulterated Brian Wilson genius material. Okay, maybe there’s a little of the other guys’ on here, too, and maybe Mike Love is making too much from the reissues of the album. I try not to think about it when I’m listening. It’s best to listen to Pet Sounds with an open mind, free from distraction – like when you’re driving down Pacific Coast Highway (or whichever long and windy road near a body of water is in your town).

The album kicks off with one of the greatest Beach Boys songs of all time, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” This song was a huge hit, and it wasn’t about surfing or cars, it was about longing and love and youth – deeper material than the group’s previous efforts. And the trend didn’t stop there – a lot of the songs on this tape are autobiographical in nature: self-doubt is the name of the game on “That’s Not Me,” “I Know There’s An Answer” and “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.” In fact, the only mention of the ocean on this Beach Boys classic is their rendition of the traditional sailing tune, “Sloop John B.”

On my tape I have a special treat: unreleased material , another version of “I Know There’s An Answer” with different, edgier (dare I say better?) lyrics called “Hang On To Your Ego,” and an instrumental called “Trombone Dixie.” These songs are probably all standard on your computer and CD versions of this album by now, but at the time I imagine they were a big deal. I can only find one version of this tape, and all the copies seem to be worth around $50, so I’ll hold on to mine and keep enjoying it.