On “Spring Cleaning,” the opening track to his 2014 album ‘til Life Turns Over, Micah McCaw declared: “I’m free to be anything that I want to be.” With the record, the Oregon-based singer/songwriter took his words to heart singing songs about love, faith and death. For his latest release, McCaw takes on the sanctity of marriage with an acoustic cover of the Beach Boys’ classic “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”
He was inspired to record it when a friend was about to propose to his girlfriend. As part of the engagement process, the friend was hoping to compile a covers CD of tunes for which the couple shared a mutual affection. “I saw ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ on his list of song choices and decided to take it on seeing as I love the song and I love the Beach Boys,” McCaw told Cover Me in an email interview.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is the opening track to the Beach Boys’ 1966 masterwork Pet Sounds. The lyrics explore themes of love and marriage with wide-eyed, youthful optimism. “I love just about everything about the original song,” McCaw said. “It’s such a unique sounding, interestingly composed, and produced song. The vocals rip so hard!”
McCaw is a lifelong fan of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. “I remember my parents getting me a Beach Boys greatest hits CD and just listening to the whole CD on repeat as often as I could.” He cites “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “Good Vibrations,” “409” as other favorites by the band. “I recently watched the film Love & Mercy and was astounded to learn a little about Brian Wilson’s life. His struggle with mental illness and abusive relationships was really eye-opening to learn about and it is truly amazing that he was able to make it through all that. His genius is undeniable and I recently read that he is considered the first pop artist to write, record, and produce his own songs. Truly one of the most influential songwriters ever.”
For his cover, McCaw strips away the lush production of the original recording. Instead. he plays an acoustic guitar for backup. He sings the lead vocals in a lower register, but includes some Beach Boys-style backing harmonies, which he sang himself. McCaw recorded the track in his apartment. It was later mixed by Jeremy Oliveria at Eleos Records.
“I’ve always liked covers that take a different approach to the song so I was happy that this version sounds quite a bit different. … The biggest challenge was figuring out how to sing the melody with the tempo slower, only playing acoustic, and hearing the melody when a lot of the original song has multiple-part harmonies.”
McCaw had originally intended to only give the track to his friend, but was so pleased with the results he released it. He filmed an accompanying video with his brother-in-law Preston Martinez and friend Robert Thomas Preston. “Once I finished recording it I liked it too much to not share with everyone. As far as the timeline, it just worked out that way with the filming and editing of the video and setting everything up for release.”
Click here to listen to more Beach Boys covers.