Making sense of "Can't Wait Too Long" by the Beach Boys

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by christian42, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Lund, Sweden
    I think most would say that this track and its evolution is quite fascinating. I’ve been reading up a bit on it and I think I’ve managed to make some sense of the whole thing now. I've seen in various BB threads that people have asked about information on this song, and perhaps this will be of interest to others as well. If nothing else, you'll be able to listen to the different variations that have been released and know which parts are from where.

    I want to underscore that most of the research that this post is based on is not my own – I’ve relied on info from this thread on the Smiley Smile board: Can't Wait Too Long on Sunshine Tomorrow , and on the CWTL Bible, a document that seems to be collated by a person on reddit: CWTL Bible.docx .

    As you can see, the former was mainly written in 2017, just after Sunshine Tomorrow was released but before ST2, while the second has been updated with info from last year’s I Can Hear Music download.

    Relying on those two sources, I’ve been able to ascertain what we have available and from when. As you may know, this track was recorded at two separate times, in late 1967 and in mid 1968. To differentiate between these two variants, you could actually call the one from 1967 “Been Way Too Long”, because that is the only title that is ever sung during those sessions, while the one from 1968 could be named “Can’t Wait Too Long”. While the latter still retains the “Been Way Too Long” chorus, it mixes it up sometimes with “Can’t Wait Too Long”.

    Anyway, let’s get stuck into this.

    Been Way Too Long (recorded Oct 28 & Nov 1, 1967)

    The major difference between the 1967 and the 1968 results is instrumentation and vocals – the song structure is actually identical! There are several run-throughs of the song – 2 from 1967 and at least 3 from 1968 – and all of them adhere to the structure Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Abbreviated Verse/Chorus.

    The 1967 versions are a bit funkier, similar to the sound of Wild Honey, while the 1968 material is less strident, analogue to the Friends tracks.

    Version 1:
    We’ll begin with what the CWTL Bible calls version 1. Probably recorded the first of the two dates above, unreleased material on bootlegs reveals that this version is based on a runthrough with Brian on piano accompanied by a kick drum. Later on there were overdubs with for example bass and vocals over the first verse and chorus. (As you may already know, when the Beach Boys recorded during this time, Brian and the band generally used a cut and paste method where one verse and chorus were recorded fully and then they could construct a whole song out of that.)

    This material is officially available in two different versions, which are edited exactly the same – they are both structured as First Verse/First Chorus repeated twice.

    The earliest version is on Sunshine Tomorrow (ST), which includes some studio chatter at the beginning and then simply fades out during the second repetition of the chorus. Sunshine Tomorrow 2, on the other hand, uses the overdubbed version, but as I said, edited the same way. Unlike the ST version, it does not have any studio chatter or a fade out, though it retains Brian’s count-in.

    On I Can’t Hear Music (ICHM), there are two sections that hail from this recording session.

    ST: The entire track
    ST2: 0.00 – 1.55
    ICHM: 0.00 – 0.42 and 4.39 – 5.01

    Version 2:
    Let’s assume this was recorded on the second of the two dates in 1967. We have less of this session available, though to most it’s more familiar because it was used both on the Smiley Smile/Wild Honey twofer (2F) and on the Good Vibrations box set (GV). What we have from this session is only a verse and an extended chorus (compared with the earlier version, which had three “rounds” during each chorus, this one has four). The chorus also has a cold ending. The instrumentation seems to be mainly bass for the verse and then further instruments and vocals during the chorus which ends with Brian doing a falsetto.

    2F: 3.44 – 4.54 (this is the most complete version)
    GV: 2.50 to the end (the difference from 2F is that this fades out)
    ICHM: 5.01 – 5.37 (a new mix of a shorter edit)

    There’s one final piece of music from 1967. I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s from the same sessions as version 2, because the instrumentation fits a bit better. This bit of music consists of delayed bass, organ and drums. It is edited onto the end of version 2 on 2F, while ST2 has put this tag after version 1, so you can judge for yourselves where you think it fits best.

    2F: 4.54 to the end
    ST2: 1.55 to the end
    ICHM: 7.13 to the end

    Can’t Wait Too Long (recorded July 24, 25, 26 & 30, 1968)

    That concludes what we have available from 1967, but don’t despair, there are lots of sections from 1968 to come! It was easier to reach a reasonable conclusion which versions come from which session with the 1967 pieces of music than it is with the 1968 bits, but the following seems reasonable.

    Version 1:
    What seems to be the first attempt at recording a backing track is mainly available on unofficial releases, but ICHM has one verse and one chorus, at least. It has a more prominent harpsichord than the version that follows next, and does not have any vocals.

    ICHM: 1.14 – 2.11

    Intro (to version 2?):
    It’s the intro we’re probably all most used to since it was used as such in the two tracks we got in the 90s. It consists of piano, acoustic guitar, sleighbells and some vocals. Most of the vocals are wordless but there are also the phrases “been too long” and “I miss you, darlin’, I miss you so hard”. I think this was recorded at the same session as version 2, because the instrumentation is most similar to that version, but you’re welcome to argue differently.

    2F: 0.00 – 0.46
    GV: 0.00 – 0.46
    Hawthorne, CA/Made in California: The whole track (a cappella)
    ICHM: 2.11 – 2.58 (different mix)

    Version 2:
    Probably the most familiar piece of music since it made up the bulk of the first two releases. (Some claim that further overdubs were made in 1980, though no one seems to know what those overdubs may be in that case.)

    On the session material available unofficially this version is noted as a “pickup from the second verse”, which explains why it’s missing the first verse and chorus. Otherwise, the structure is the same as the 1967 track, Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Short Verse/Extended Chorus. The instrumentation is fairly similar to the intro above, though it adds what to me sounds like a vibraphone. The first chorus here features Brian and Carl doing wordless vocals. This chorus is one “round” longer on 2F compared with GV.

    The bridge has Brian reciting the lyrics “Miss you darling, miss you so hard”, though on GV Brian’s recitation goes on for longer and even includes the lyrics to the short verse following. Finally there’s the ridiculously long chorus with Brian and Al singing “Way too long/Been way too long, baby” alternating with “Wait too long/(I) Can’t wait too long, baby” somewhat randomly to my ears. The longest version of this chorus is on 2F. ICHM has a somewhat different mix which fades early.

    2F: 0.47 – 3.44
    GV: 0.47 – 2.50
    ICHM: 2.58 – 3.49

    Version 3:
    Unfortunately, not much is available of this version. What we do have is the abbreviated verse and the final chorus. It has different instrumentation (though may have the same backing track, my ears aren’t good enough to tell) in the form of extra percussion, handclaps, some guitar and wordless vocals during the verse. The ending chorus has the familiar Al & Brian “Way too long/Been way too long” repeat, and I think it’s actually the same as the one in version 2, though with a somewhat different mix. But after the fourth “round”, it also includes new vocals from Brian (“Baby, you know I can’t wait forever”) and soon Mike joins in as well (repeating “Can’t wait too long”). The instrumentation fades out first leaving only the vocals before they too fade out.

    ICHM: 5.37 – 7.13

    “Version 4”:
    I put quotes around that because what we have available to us is so minimal that it’s hard to say where it fits in the whole Been Way Too Long saga. In this half minute long extract we get the bridge with sung vocals (“I miss you, darling/I miss you so hard/Now come back, baby/And don’t break my heart”), and then a fairly brief bit that seems to be the chorus chords with Carl going “Baby, you know that I” and Brian answering “Can’t wait forever”.

    ICHM: 0.42 – 1.11

    And that actually concludes what we have available to us officially at this point in time. Please keep in mind that I am not a musician, I have no musical training, and therefore I may have misconstrued or misused some of the terms above.

    Like many others out there, I have made my own personal edits of the above material. It is interesting that it’s actually possible to construct a complete 1968 version with what we have available, since version 1 contains Verse 1/Chorus 1, version 2 has Verse 2/Chorus 2/Bridge/Short verse/Final Chorus, version 3 has Short Verse/Final Chorus, and version 4 has Bridge. My own edit flows as follows:

    Intro (from Intro)
    Verse 1 (from version 1)
    Chorus 1 (from version 1)
    Verse 2 (from version 2)
    Chorus 2 (from version 2)
    Bridge (from version 4)
    Short verse (from version 3)
    Final chorus (from version 3)

    Yes, sure, the edits aren’t hyper-smooth, but no one can claim that the edits on 2F, GV or ICHM are particularly smooth either. I think it’s just as listenable as anything else we have available, and it has the advantage of being a version containing the entire structure of the song. The main drawback of my construction is that I don’t get the hypnotic effect of the ridiculously long final chorus from version 2. It should be possible to edit in parts of that chorus into the final chorus from version 3, but unfortunately they seem to be mixed a bit differently so it stands out too much when I try. It’s possible that others may succeed where I’ve failed.

    Here are links to YouTube with the six different versions of CWTL that we have available officially.
    ST2: Can't Wait Too Long (Alternative Mix With Tag)
    GV: Can't Wait Too Long (Alternate Version)
    2F: The Beach Boys - Can't Wait Too Long (1967)
    ICHM: Been Way Too Long (Sections)
    Hawthorne/Made in California: Can't Wait Too Long (A Cappella)
    Jon H., picassoson, ztroika and 40 others like this.
  2. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Toronto, ON, CA
    Thanks for doing this. Looking forward to processing your post fully when I have time tonight. Love this track!
  3. Sammy Banderas

    Sammy Banderas Forum Resident

    San Diego, CA, USA
    I have been waiting to read something like this FOR YEARS!!! Thank you, Christian42!
  4. JayDeeEss

    JayDeeEss Forum Resident

    Chattanooga, TN
    Any evidence that this was ever intended to be modular*? A long time ago I used to think of it as a follow-up to GV/H&V method due to how it was presented on the bootlegs and box sets, but now I'm not sure it was anything more than a Wild Honey candidate that was remade so many times that you can do interesting edits.

    *edit: that is to say, self-consciously modular as an aesthetic choice as presented in the GV Box/two-fer mixes
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
    Boom Operator, eno and FJFP like this.
  5. Pelvis Ressley

    Pelvis Ressley Down in the Jungle Room

    Capac, Michigan
    Which portion(s) were recorded during the KTSA sessions? Have any of those recordings been released, if they exist?
  6. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member

    I don't have the details handy but there is a July 1968 article in one of the UK weekly music papers mentions "Can't Wait Too Long" is expected to be their
    next 45. IIRC that info comes from a Beach Boy that was interviewed for the article..
  7. t-man 54

    t-man 54 Forum Resident

    For years, I always thought it was a Smile track recorded in late '66 !
    JoeRockhead likes this.
  8. Harry Hotspur

    Harry Hotspur Forum Resident

    London England
    Must say could never see the fuss about the track.
    onionmaster likes this.
  9. trebori

    trebori Forum Resident

    Rochester, NY
    Really appreciate the effort you put into this. And, like a few others up thread, am going to have to take a while to process this. Many thanks.
    Boom Operator and Sammy Banderas like this.
  10. davenav

    davenav High Plains Grifter

    Louisville, KY USA
    A real favorite of mine, and a real mystery as to what the final version was supposed to be!

    It does carry a heavy SMiLE feel, but with Smiley sparsitude.
    Boom Operator and Sammy Banderas like this.
  11. JayDeeEss

    JayDeeEss Forum Resident

    Chattanooga, TN
    Listening the later sessions again. Such a thin line between when Brian's just experimenting and when he making parts with the intention of connecting them -- I think in 1967 it was supposed to be just an album track but by 1968 it was definitely supposed to be something of a modular tour-de-force. Even without the benefit of a vintage edit* there's too many similarities with how we know that the SMiLE Feels connect and it's deliberately a mode apart from the Friends/20-20 chillout tracks.

    Anyway, conventional wisdom prevails.

    *as far as we know -- has anyone ever asked Linett what kind of documentation there is on the tape boxes? We're talking three days of sessions in 1968, presumably he couldn't go wrong just connecting them up in the order they were recorded except for obvious intros/outros or section remakes.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  12. Aftermath

    Aftermath Senior Member

    I especially enjoy hearing these:

    Bridge (from version 4)
    Short verse (from version 3)
    Final chorus (from version 3)

    A complete version of the song would have been a majestic closer to an album side.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  13. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Lund, Sweden
    Thanks for all the kind words! It was my pleasure, and believe me, I did it mainly for myself. :)

    To be honest, it "only" took me part of a day. When I'd finally got it to make some sense I just thought that there must be others who'd like this info as well. And of course I wouldn't mind being corrected if I've misunderstood something or there is other info available that I've missed.

    Now to some replies...

    I haven't personally seen anything to convince me that there was anything more than "just a track". As pointed out in my original post, both the 67 and the 68 versions have the same song structure, which indicates that they are just different attempts at making the track a viable song. Unlike the Smile tracks (and Good Vibrations), where there are very different sections edited into "pocket symphonies", there's not any part available so far that cannot be fit into the regular song structure.

    But of course you could never know with Brian back then.

    As far as I know, this is not known. Or at least I haven't found anything that could tell us what these overdubs were. Listening to the track itself doesn't immediately reveal anything that screams "1980".

    That was Bruce Johnston's claim, IIRC. Since the 68 sessions took place in July, that puts it around the same time frame, I guess.
  14. Smiler

    Smiler Forum Resident

    Houston TX
    Good work, christian42! I too have been way too long fascinated by this song. I don't have time to study your writeup and compare to the sections right now but I will at some point. For instance, I didn't think there were 2 different '67 versions, I just thought they were different mixes.

    When I met Alan Boyd for the first time at an event late last year, I half-seriously told him I would love a BWTL/CWTL box set. He replied that he and Mark Linett were considering including on the 1968 copyright extension release a "do it yourself mix kit" that contained most of the pieces.

    Of course, I strongly encouraged that idea (and that medley did soon appear on ICHM). I said I hoped the bridge from the '67 version from Sea of Tunes Vol. 19 would be included since it had not appeared on any official releases. At his request I directed him to that section on the boot and I am very happy they included it. (As an aside, hardcore BB fans are incredibly lucky to have Alan and Mark involved, because they work very hard to get this stuff released and in good quality).

    I think that bridge (ICHM #25 0:25-0:42) is interesting in that a) you can make out some of the words Brian is singing off-mic, b) no tapes have surfaced with any overdubs on that section, and c) there doesn't seem to be a similar section in the '68 version.

    I have wondered if somebody here could do a vocal extraction and bring out Brian's off-mic vocal.

    FWIW, when I do my edits, I keep the '67 version separate from '68. Different animals.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  15. yesteryear

    yesteryear Wild Honey Laureate

    Dallas, Texas
    Just bookmarked this!

    Boom Operator and Sammy Banderas like this.
  16. yesteryear

    yesteryear Wild Honey Laureate

    Dallas, Texas
    It oddly is among their most mysterious tunes. And another BW mini-masterpiece to boot.
  17. Lonesurf

    Lonesurf Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, Pa
    It's a shame that Brian never did tighten this composition into a 45: so many tantalizing pieces.

    I think it would have been just the type of single that The Beach Boys needed to bolster their US charting in the late Sixties.
  18. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    The long verse xylophone/glockenspiel? backing does sound very SMiLE-era, sort of similar in chords and sound to a Vegetables tag.

    This track has a lot of mystery. I have not yet fully absorbed this wonderful thread, but I love the very dense uptempo version that quickly fades in with drums and reverb and those amazing harmonies. Can’t recall where I found this one... will have to check.

    Also, the a capella version seems popular, not only used as an Intro to the Endless Harmony doc but also included on Brian’s That Lucky Old Sun album.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  19. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Lund, Sweden
    I haven't studied version 1 and 2 from 1967 closely, but now that you mention it, they may actually simply be different mixes. The guitar seems to be the same one in both versions, though brought forward much further in the mix in version 2. Version 2 also has a prominent bass, as I mentioned earlier, while version 1 is mainly based on that piano runthrough by Brian. I hope you (or someone else) can take a closer look (hear?) to corroborate whether they are different mixes or completely different takes.

    Thanks for the anecdote about Alan Boyd, glad to hear that a fellow enthusiast's opinion might have given us even more of this tantalizing track. And yeah, once you've heard the '67 and '68 bits in isolation, it's easy to see that they are quite different beasts.
  20. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    It's on Harmony Friends... I'm not sure if there is a very dense/rich vocal arrangement going on or if it is two versions layered together.
    Boom Operator likes this.
  21. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Lotus Land
    Have lyrics for this tune ever surfaced? Do we know what the melody was supposed to sound like?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  22. Daniel Plainview

    Daniel Plainview God's Lonely Man

    Yeah, I mean we have a vintage interview with Mike saying this was going to be their next single, so surely structurally it was understood at some point how the song was going to go, yet all we have now are variations on a chorus theme and a brief guide vocal of a potential verse. I reckon if they had anything else to work with they would have given it to us by now. I found the version on "Sunshine Tomorrow" to be my favorite to listen to. I've never really tried to "roll my own", though. Could ask Brian but Darian probably already did, especially when they decided to use a part of CWTL in TLOS. LOL. R2D2.
    saborlord123 and willy like this.
  23. yesteryear

    yesteryear Wild Honey Laureate

    Dallas, Texas
    I've been revisiting making my own "fan edits" lately and this is my next mission. Destiny is calling.

    If you have a link of yours I'd enjoy a listen.
  24. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Lund, Sweden
    Here you go: Composite 68.wav

    Let me know if you have any problems getting it. Or if/when you've managed to improve on it. :)
  25. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Lund, Sweden
    Depends on whether you refer to the '67 versions or the '68 versions. :)

    The chorus is fully sung:
    "Baby, you know that I / Can't wait forever
    Woke in the night again / We were together
    Windows of darkness are / All I can see through
    Searching the shadows / Hoping to see you"

    All accompanied by backing vocals going:
    "(Been) Way too long / (I) Been way too long, baby"

    The verses have some lyrics sung by Brian off-mic during his piano runthrough, but I have no idea what he sings.

    We have lyrics to the bridge, sung. (From version 4 above)

    We also have spoken lyrics to the final verse, as Brian recites them in the GV mix of version 2, but unfortunately no melody for them.
    “Now I’m alone lying down looking up at the stars /
    Reliving the times we shared when the moon, the stars and the music was ours”

    And of course we have lyrics to the chorus in versions 2 and 3, as discussed in the original post.
    Jon H., Smiler, willy and 2 others like this.

Share This Page