1964 had been a tumultuous year for the Beach Boys. Successfully weathering the English Invasion, with a live concert album topping the charts and finishing the year with the Christmas gift-wrap of “The Man With All The Toys,” it was also an annum that saw the group schism with their father-manager, and Brian Wilson suffer a nervous breakdown on tour.
His decision to retire from the road and concentrate his energies in the studio was a blessing in disguise, especially given this moment when the album format as well as rock ‘n’ roll was beginning to take itself more seriously. While the first side of Today! is hit-driven, with Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Wanna Dance” leading off, “Help Me Rhonda” rounding off, and even more shing-a-linging with “Dance Dance Dance,” “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” captures the moment when maturity beckons. The second side thusly takes Brian into a more wistful and personal exploration of who he might become, from “Please Let Me Wonder” to the psychic caverns “In The Back of My Mind.” A version of the Students’ “I’m So Young” evokes an innocence that is less adolescence and more a rebirth of discovery.