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Break Away (The Beach Boys song)

"Break Away"
File:Beach Boys - Break Away.jpg
Single by The Beach Boys
B-side "Celebrate the News"
Released June 16, 1969[1]
Format Vinyl
Recorded March 31; April 23, 1969
Genre Rock
Length 2:56
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Brian Wilson, Reggie Dunbar
Producer(s) Brian Wilson, Murry Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology

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"Break Away" is a song written by Brian Wilson and his father Murry for the American rock band the The Beach Boys, released as a single in 1969. Murry was credited as lyricist under the pseudonym "Reggie Dunbar". The single was relatively unsuccessful compared to the group's releases, and charted at #63 in US Billboard (top 40 in Cash Box and Record World charts). "Break Away" sold better abroad, reaching #6 on the United Kingdom charts, #10 in Ireland, #17 in the Netherlands, #20 in New Zealand, and #29 in Germany.

It was the last release (aside from the single "Cool, Cool Water") on which Brian was named as producer until "Child of Winter (Christmas Song)" in 1974.[citation needed]


According to Brian Wilson, his father Murry came up with the idea from watching The Joey Bishop Show on television while it proclaimed, "We're gonna break for a minute and we'll be right back!". Brian, at his piano, then composed the song with Murry as they "plunked and plunked and plunked" and "finally got a song going." When asked why Murry used a pseudonym, Brian responded: "I don't know. He was nutty. He was crazy, that was his fictitious name."[2] At another time, Brian has said that The Monkees inspired him to write this song.[citation needed]

"Break Away" features Carl Wilson singing verses and Al Jardine on the chorus; some[who?] have stated that Murry Wilson (who co-wrote the song) recorded the bass part of the song while Mike Love was away. Initially, the song was planned to be released with Brian Wilson singing the first verse, as included on the 2001 compilation, Hawthorne, CA. Early stereo studio mixes of this title provide verification, but these remixes are illicit.

Many commentators[who?] point out that the title of the song is a hidden message of relief, as The Beach Boys break away from Capitol records with their final single. Capitol had been under-promoting The Beach Boys (not knowing how to change from publicizing them as a purely street-surf-summer band) and under-documenting their sales. Having sued their record company, The Beach Boys were glad to break away from that relationship.

Single release

The "Break Away" single backed with "Celebrate the News" was released through Capitol Records in the United States in June 1969. It was the band's final single of the 1960s and indeed was the band's penultimate single with Capitol Records before moving on to Warner Brothers. The single peaked at the number 63 spot on the Billboard charts, and reached number 35 in Record World and number 38 in Cash Box. The single was also released through Capitol Records in the same month in the United Kingdom, being the band's final single of the 1960s there. Capitol re-released it in Britain in June 1975, although on that occasion the single failed to make any impact on the charts.

On regional US charts the single made the Beach Boys' weakest showing in major markets since the Christmas single "The Man with All the Toys" five years earlier. Qualified success was seen in Los Angeles (KRLA), Fresno, Indianapolis (#15), Columbus (#11), Calgary (#14), Fargo (#17) and Council Bluffs (#4). Settling on the bottom rung of top twenty in Los Angeles and Fresno, it made just the top thirty in Chicago, Sacramento, areas of New England, but failing entirely elsewhere. It apparently made few or no showings on playlists throughout the entire Southern United States.

Typically for that era, the single fared much better in Britain, peaking at the number 6 position. It was number 10 in Malaysia and Ireland, number 17 in The Netherlands, number 20 in New Zealand, number 29 in Germany and number 38 in Canada. It would be the band's last single to chart in Germany until 1987.

Neither side of the single appeared on a regular Beach Boys LP. It made its album debut in 1975 as part of the Spirit of America compilation, and then the UK compilation 20 Golden Greats in 1976. It later appeared as a bonus track on the two-in-one CD for Friends and 20/20.

Live versions

The song was played live following its release in 1969 but has not been played since. However Brian Wilson did perform the song regularly during his 2005 solo tour, with Wilson taking over the lead voice originally provided by his brother Carl. The group lip-synched this tune on the German TV show "Beat Club", in black and white with psychedelic production. Episode #43, near the show's finish. This clip was later used on American cable shows such as Radio 1990 and VH1.


  1. ^ Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 250
  2. ^ Sharp, Ken (January 2006). "Christmas with Brian Wilson". <span />Record Collector<span /> (United Kingdom): 72–76. 

External links