Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Don't Worry Baby

by

The Beach Boys



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was conceived as a followup to the Ronettes' #2 hit "Be My Baby." When he heard the Ronettes' song on the radio, Brian Wilson wondered aloud if he could match it. Wilson's wife Marilyn reassured him, saying, "Don't worry, baby." Wilson remembered it when it came time to write songs with his DJ friend Roger Christian.
Brian Wilson told Goldmine in 2011 regarding this track: "I wrote that with Roger Christian and it took me two days to write it. I started out with the verse idea and then wrote the chorus. It was a very simple and beautiful song. It's a really heart and soul song, I really did feel that in my heart. Some say it's about a car and others say it's about a girl, who's right? It's both. It's about a car and a woman."
Philip Lambert, author of Inside The Music of Brian Wilson, said of the similarities between this song and "Be My Baby": "They're in the same key - E Major - and they start the same. The phrase structure is the same, the chord progressions are almost the same, the melodies are almost the same." Lambert points out that the key change in this song is an unexpected touch that helps make the song memorable. The drums at the beginning are the same rhythm as "Be My Baby."
This song was recorded in two 8-hour sessions. Brian Wilson often used the famous Los Angeles session musicians on his songs, but this one was mostly in the family: Brian played piano and bass, Carl Wilson played guitar, and Dennis Wilson played the drums.
The Beach Boys used as the B-side of their hit, "I Get Around."
B.J. Thomas covered this in 1977. His version hit #17 in the US.
This song was used in the Drew Barrymore film Never Been Kissed. It also appeared in Good Morning Vietnam.
Billy Joel sang this at the "Tribute to Brian Wilson" concert that aired on July 4, 2001. (thanks, Jim - Melbourne, FL)
Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo covered this in 1993. Fifteen years later he included his version on his solo Alone II album. He told Billboard magazine that this song was immensely influential on his songwriting. Cuomo explained: "I discovered the Beach Boys around that time in 1992-93, and to help me learn how to write those kinds of melodies and harmonies and chord progressions, I would learn their songs and record my own versions of them more like Weezer-style, with distorted guitars."
Cuomo added: "I love Brian Wilson's melody when he's saying, 'Well, it's been building up inside of me for oh, I don't know how long.' I love the lyrical innocence. It's just like a straightforward pop song, singing about a girl as opposed to something like the Pixies, where the lyrics were pretty abstract. And I love the big harmonies in the chorus -- actually five-part vocal harmonies -- and I carefully transcribed them in my bedroom on my tape player. But then I added the element of the modern crunchy guitar sound. And that's what really helped me figure out what I wanted to do as a songwriter and a performer in Weezer."
Al Jardine told Mojo magazine June 2012 that this was his favorite Beach Boys recording session. He recalled: "(Engineer) Chuck Britz got such a great sound on that song; the drums, the singing, the clicky sound on the Fender Precision bass. There's something about the way the track sat. Just about everything about it was an era-change for us."
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys Artistfacts
More The Beach Boys songs
More songs that were hits for more than one artist
More songs used in movies

Comments (38):

On June 26th 1977, "Don't Worry Baby" by B.J. Thomas entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; and on September 18th, 1977 it peaked at #17 (for 2 weeks) and it also spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Between 1966 and 1983 he had twenty-six Top 100 records; with five making the Top 10 and two reaching #1; "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" for 4 weeks in 1970 and "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" for 1 week in 1975...
Mr. Thomas will celebrate his 72nd birthday in two months on August 7th, 2014.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DszXf6LFST4 it's from a game i played, this song also has the climb that 'Don't worry baby' and 'Just Like Starting over' have. I think they sound very similar. :) I wonder which one of the two songs inspired this one.
- Mandy, Tandil, Argentina
I'm a big Ronettes fan as well as the Beach Boys. When I first heard that "Don't Worry Baby" was written for the Ronettes I realized it was very easy to change the words of the song a bit so that the singer is the girlfriend instead of the boyfriend.
If you try it you'll see. Then the words make more sense, with the girlfriend being the one worried about her drag racing boyfriend who reassures her with the words "Don't Worry Baby" ( e.g., "I quess he should've kept his mouth shut when ..., I told him baby when you race today just take along my love with you...). It's so convincing. You must have the words of a female character if it's sung by a female. I think they had to change the words to those of the male character for the Beach Boys to record it for themselves. Then of course the story is different, more unusual. I'd love to know if this is the true story of the lyrics that we've all come to know. I'd love to hear the Ronettes recording of "Don't Worry Baby" if one exists.
- Paul, Champaign, IL
Interesting fact, this song influenced "Rag Doll" by the Four Seasons, both sound similar to "Be my baby", and "Big girls don't cry" influenced "Finder keepers loser weepers." It is very interesting how groups influence each other.
- Brandon, Seattle, WA
No reason to over-analyze this amazing tune! The melody...the sentiment...the five-part harmonies...the pure, crystal-clear falsetto of Brian Wilson's lead...what a genius he was and is. Without question, this song is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE SONG from the moment I heard it for the very first time in 1972. Absolutely superb!
- Jeb, Oklahoma City, OK
This song has one of the most pleasing melodies I've heard.A well structured song.It has great harmonies and great melody.The lyric is very positive,and the song has a clean sound.Another winner from the great Brian Wilson.
- George, Belleville, NJ
The song is partly about drag racing, and partly about the relationship between the singer and his girlfriend. I'd say more about the latter than the former - the idea of getting reassurance from her expressions of love can be applied to lots of situations. The main question regarding the meaning of the lyrics is whether the phrase "makes love" clearly meant having sex when the song came out (1964), or whether it was somewhat more vague. At one time (the 1940s?) the phrase did not refer to sexual relations at all - it could mean kissing/making out, or even just voicing or showing expressions of love in an effort to "win" someone. By the late 1960s, it meant sex and nothing else. In 1964, I suspect the meaning was somewhat ambiguous, and that Brian Wilson intended it to be.
- Danny, Bronx, NY
This Great Beach Boys Song was Used in the Danzel Washington Film "De JaVu" To excellent effect -When this starts playing, on the Car Radio, a repeated sequence of Events Takes Place that ends with a Spectacular Ferry Explosion set in New Orleans- GB
- Grant, Toowoomba,
This song is not just about "drag racing," but is a reference to the movie Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. The song mirrors the intense connection those two lovers had. Yes, there is a drag-racing scene, but it is the pinnacle of the movie, thus an important part of the song. The song is ultimately about the power and strength of love.
- Ashley Jeanson, San Diego, CA
I just stumbled upon this song covered by Lorrie Morgan with the Beach Boys as her backup on Youtube. Even as active as I am in music I very seldom get real goosebumps. This version is way better than the original, me still being an old fan of the Beach Boys.
- Haukur, Reykajvik, Iceland
I'd like to hear the Ronettes version of this tune
as was conceived by Brian for them...and I understand Brian even played piano on the Spector session..
or at least one of the takes...
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
the best beach boys song that isnt on pet sounds
- ben, menomonie, WI
Don't Worry Baby vs Starting Over: you find the obvious resemblance between the climbs in both songs, and they are also placed at the same strong point (opening the chorus or chorus-like part) but the resemblance ends here, the songs are completely unrelated, with the exception of a few words.
IMHO Lennon's song makes a more logical and breathtaking return to the tonal centre after the four chords climb, while the BB's make a somehow forced modulation to upper key (please don't misunderstand me, I love their music too).
Anyway, for me the most exciting twist comes within two flattened fifths:
"but when I see you DARling
it's like we both are FAlling..."
which are not present in the BB's tune.

Stewball vs Happy Xmas: this note-by-note lifting case is pretty clear... unless you search the web a little harder, just to find PP&M's "Stewball" is based upon the traditional "Skewbald" (check Martin Carthy's version, for instance). So this puts both songs -and many others- against the same ancient common ground, so "lifting theory" loses a big part of its weight.
- Louis Cyphre, Cadiz, Spain
I'm writing to this post as Don't Worry, Baby is playing on the radio. I first heard this song in the summer of 1964, not knowing who it was, I was speechless! I couldn't believe something this wonderful was pouring out of my transister radio laying out in the sunshine on the side of my parents house! I was 13 years old. From that point on...I became a bass player in our own band in the 60's and 70's, went to broadcasing school and was a radio personality for 25 years and I finally met the Beach Boys in 1994 in Connecticut at a local airport where they flew in. I spent a few minutes with Carl and his mom, took photos and was he ever the nicest!! He invited me on their jet for a few minutes..it was an unbelievable experience!! I've been a Beach Boys fan from the moment I heard "Don't Worry, Baby on that warm sunny day in 1964! I still have that 45!!
- Vince, Watertown, CT
of course, it's about drag racing, what else?
- Przemek, Warsaw, Poland
I don't understand people's problem with the fact that this song talks about drag racing. It is a song aimed at teenagers, talking about things teens could relate to at the time. This simple fact does not detract from the quality of the song. For crying out loud, it's POP MUSIC and it's a product of the time in which it was written. There weren't that many socially conscious songs back in 1964 (thankfully, in my opinion).
- Tom, North Attleboro, MA
I heard on some documentary this songs beat was inspired by reggae music Brian had seen or heard. The beat is unmistakablly reggae. Is this the first song to have a reggae beat on the top 40?
- Jim, Christiansted, Other
The Beach Boys played on this song. There were no session musicians on this song. The basic track was Carl on guitar, Al on bass, Brian on piano, and Dennis on drums. Carl later inserted the intro and solo guitar strikes.

Give the boys credit! They played on more cuts than most people think.
- Jason, Newmarket, United States
Regarding 'lifting' of songs -- Tom, North Attleboro, MA: you've hit it on the head. Still, song-lifting is quite common in pop music, and was so even way before sampling came along. A couple of the most famous examples from that era - 60's/early 70's - come to mind. One is "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison, which George lifted just about note-for-note, although apparently unintentionally, from "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons, one of Phil Spector's 'girl groups.' A famous music lawsuit of the 70s.

Another is the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA," which took its tune directly from Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." As for the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" -- there was nothing the least bit surreptitious about this -- it was a musical caricature of their guru-sharing pals, the Beach Boys. In fact, that album, "The Beatles," aka the White Album, aka the Double Album, 1968, as soon as it was released, it was widely recognized as bristling with parodies of contemporary groups. "Rocky Raccoon" e.g., contains a somewhat over-the-top parody of Dylan (esp. his pre-electric, marathon-length ballads), sung by Paul. "Wild Honey Pie," "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," these are send-ups, though I can't put my finger on their targets in each case.

As for drag racing being the focus of Don't Worry Baby; sure, parts of the song are about that, but it's just a backdrop for the real meaning of the song, which the first (2 blocks - 11 lines) and last (next-to-last block - 6 lines) verses make crystal clear. The spirit of this song reminds me strongly of their song, "God Only Knows What I'd Be Without You." Genuine love always has a real-world screen to project its 'movie' onto, and drag-racing just happens to play that part in this one. So don't be disillusioned about what the song is about, because there's nothing to be 'illusioned' about in the first place.
- Fred, Laurel, MD
It's true the song is about drag racing, but many think the drag racing was also used as a metaphor for going all the way with the girl.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
Sorry, but Just Like Starting Over is not as close to Don't Worry Baby as Surfer Girl is to When You Wish Upon a Star. The only Lennon song that I would label as being lifted is Happy Christmas (War is Over) as part of it is lifted from Stewball by Peter Paul and Mary.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
This song gives me chills, especially the chorus. It's unfortunate that it had to be about a drag race, but the struggle--a guy who's lost confidence in himself--can be applied to any situation. I wish a guy would sing this to me. When it came on at the end of Never Been Kissed, that was the perfect song for the conclusion. I almost cried during that scene, and I never cry over movies. Shamelessly sappy, but so sweet.
- Carrie, Roanoke, VA
I can't believe this is about a drag-race. That cheapens it for me a little. Oh well, it's still musically beautiful.
- Henry, Kingston, NY
Gary from New Zealand:

There is no musical connection between The Beatles Oh Darlin' and the Beach Boy's Darlin', nor is does ANY musical relationship exist between Wild Honey Pie and Wild Honey.

And Help Me Rhonda and Help were recorded so closely together that it seems unlikely one had any influence on the other.

These tunes are alike in title only.
- Tom, North Attleboro, MA
an amazing song, very cool.
- NIALL, DUBLIN, Ireland
Hey Brandon- thanks for noticing the lifted riff in Lennon's "Starting Over". I picked it up the first time I heard the single and was quite disappointed. This songs construction is just about perfect.
- charles, blue point, NY
A lot of people don't realize it, but this is a song about drag racing.
- Ben, Tucson, AZ
My hands down favourite Beach Boys song. A great beat with Brian Wilson's exceptional voice singing lead. Saw the Beach Boys live twice in the mid-sixties and had the pleasure of watching Wilson sing this song. Second time around he was absent his place taken by Glen Campbell.
- Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
It was a huge hit in its own right, in Washington DC (fifth biggest hit of 1964, fighting off umpteen Beatle hits), Detroit, Vancouver, Miami, etc -- often in preference over its 'A' side, 'I Get Around'. Hey Brandon -- Almost everything the Beatles did post 'Pet Sounds', especially by Paul McCartney, was influenced if not directed by the Beach Boys. Check out 'Back in the USSR'. Also 'Help!' within months of 'Help Me Rhonda', 'Wild Honey Pie' after 'Wild Honey', 'Oh Darlin' after 'Darlin' and it goes on and on.
- Gary, Auckland, New Zealand
I think this is the best Beach Boys song.
The cream of the cream.
- Justin, Austin, TX
Wilson actually wrote the song for The Ronettes.
- Joseph, Manteca, CA
Yeah, I read that Brian Wilson presented Phil Spector with this song and he rejected it.
Really made Brian feel lousy.
- Kitten, NYC, United States
A very beautiful song!
Brian Wilson has a wonderful voice!!
- duff, Paris'suburb, France
Keith Moon covered it in the mid 70s and released it as a single. It was his all-time favourite song.
- Fintan, Cheltenham, England
It's a great song, but it's sorta annyoying to listen to with headphones, because you hear the lead vocal on one side and the background vocals on another.
John Lennon's "Starting Over" was musically influenced by the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby."
- Brandon, Seattle, WA
Ronnie Spector herself covered a version of this Beach Boys tune. Likewise, Brian Wilson covered his own version of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby." But, there was more: both of the groups covered a version of "I Can Hear Music." But, more - the Beach Boys also performed the songs, "You Still Believe In Me", "Do You Like Worms", and Brian's "There's So Many", of which all 3 songs were other echoes of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby."
- Brandon, Seattle, WA
I remember hearing a version of this by The Everly Brothers. It must have been recorded a while later... it's a good version.
- Matthew, Shrewsbury, England
You have to to post comments.
Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsMacabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's Songs
"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.
Marvin GayeMarvin Gaye
Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?
Concert DisastersConcert Disasters
Ozzy biting a dove? Alice Cooper causing mayhem with a chicken? Creed so bad they were sued? See if you can spot the real concert mishaps.
John Doe of XJohn Doe of X
With his X-wife Exene, John fronts the band X and writes their songs.