birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Shaken Not Stirred

The instrumental track “Pet Sounds” on the album of the same name was composed by Brian Wilson and recorded in November 1965 with session musicians; no other members of the Beach Boys were present. Jazzy percussive sounds open the song; it’s a Latin jazz rhythm, I think. Even though it’s a faster beat it sounds more serious than happy. Then the melody begins—a plucky electric guitar sound that’s cool and lounge-y. Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini are coming to your house and you’re all going to watch a James Bond movie together. It’s not an action-oriented James Bond movie; it’s one in which he’s older and perhaps he’s put on a few pounds. He might be a little depressed. Martinis will be poured. Maybe one martini too many. Sleigh bells try to lighten the mood, and muted horns assure you everything will work out in the end—but that damn depression. It’s like a suit that's too tight and it keeps you from moving the cocktail shaker freely. You smile, but your muscles fight you.

About a minute in, there’s a key change and Nancy Sinatra shows up. Or is it Barbara Eden? Either way, this party is going to be a success after all. The sound brightens and lightens, and the percussion gets sexier and now everyone is wearing knee-high boots and mini dresses with flower-power and head bands that match. Hey, is that Bob Fosse? Two minutes in, Nancy and Barbara have to leave, and Burt and Henry are having creative differences, but the percussionists and horn players remain committed to a party vibe. The guitar player starts to improvise, trying to keep the happiness alive for a few more seconds.Then everyone fades into the night.
 

What Is Sacred

Andrew Birkenstein