A month or more ago, I took disc 1 of The SMiLE Sessions and SmileySmile, mixed the SmileySmile songs in where they seemed to fit with SMiLE, and made a SMiLE-SmileySmile CD. Where the songs were on both albums, I used only the SMiLE versions (as they are superior, for the most part.) That’s what I’ve been listening to (instead of those other albums separately.)
Ironically, when Brian was in what some believe to be one of the worst periods in his life emotionally and physically, he was fixated on health. “Vega-tables” was intended for SMiLE and a weaker version made SmileySmile. It calls for the listener to brush his teeth, walk and get lots of exercise. Then there’s the happy snippet “I’m In Great Shape.” “Gettin’ Hungry” is about longing for a woman (and obviously sex), but I can’t help but think Brian was inspired by food.
I wonder where the food and health-themed songs fit in the symphonic tale Brian and Van Dyke Parks were trying to tell. Maybe — and I’m stabbing in the dark a bit — the food thing goes with the idea that SMiLE’s Americana thing. After all, Brian would have grown up with the birth of fast food chains and drive-in burger joints. By the late 60’s, people began thinking of food from a health-conscious point of view. That food and physical fitness were on the Beach Boys’ minds just as Mike Love was about ready to dive head-first into Transcendental Meditation seems to make sense.
That Paul McCartney is known to have chomped on vegetables during the recording of “Vega-Tables” is perfect considering his later conversion to vegetarianism and (mild) animal activism.