Bobby Figueroa opens up and discusses a new recording that is near and dear to his heart.
The song “Playground” is a collection of memories and conversations I once had with my friend Dennis Wilson. Although the song is about all of us who have toured with The Beach Boys, it does lean on Dennis and Carl more than anyone else.
When Ben Valley asked me to complete a track he had been carrying around for some time, I was happy to comply since I was scheduled to go to Florida around the same time that Ben was going to be there. I asked Ed Carter if he’d like to participate, and he said he would love it. I was very glad since Ed and I hadn’t worked together in the studio in some time, and I was stoked to work with him again.
Originally, the instrumental track that Ben and Steve Boyer had composed was called “Sandbox.” It had a nice feel to it … something akin to Dennis’ “You and I,” which was on the Pacific Ocean Blue album, and a song I actually had played percussion on. I liked it immediately but thought the title and the lyrics weren’t quite right and needed some help. Steve Boyer is a very respected engineer/producer with six Grammy’s and one Academy Award to his credit, and he was eager to listen to my thoughts about the lyrics. Thank goodness!
I explained that it would be a more relatable theme if we changed the title to “Playground,” and I began to explain why … When we, the band, were all touring together, we were a very tight knit group and enjoyed playing together very much. Along the way, I remembered having conversations with both Carl and Dennis about our loves and lives in general. So, when I was asked to lay down some kind of vocal, I said I would instead record some backgrounds for the ideas I had about touring and dealing with people along the way.
What best described it was the fact that not only were we doing what we loved, but we were taking it around the world and the places we visited were our playground. What I learned from our conversations was that we should treat it all with a deep respect and a lot of gratitude for being able to do the thing we loved most. Playing music and making people happy! To treat the playground with love and respect. That’s all.
We left the studio in Clearwater, FL, having added drums, percussion, guitars, and background vocals … Eddie and me and a couple of others listened to the existing track and we felt pretty good about where we were headed with this song. I brought it home after that trip and began writing down phrases and conversations I had with Dennis. The ones that mattered most became the beginning of each verse.
To me, Dennis was a dreamer, player, brother and dumb angel. These were the basis of my best recollections. This was the Dennis I knew, professionally and personally. They all meant very much to me. Those memories and conversations created the framework of the lyrics.
Along the way some other titles of Dennis’ work popped into my head and played well with the instruments and the phrases that were there, so I let them. We also had Probyn Gregory add some tasty Flugelhorn to the mix. Then I customized the words to leave a message about all that we had hoped and dreamed for then and now. The song may remind you of people and places that you hold dear, whether they are still here or live only in your hearts. They’re still there. They are a part of our own personal book of life that we are still writing. I wanted to make sure I was spot on by taking it to Dennis’ son Carl, and Dennis’ second wife Barbara (Carl’s mom), giving them a first listen. They told me that I was on the right path. All of us have our own special memories. I look forward to playing this song with California Surf Incorporated out on the road and sharing some of mine with you.
I hope that you enjoy this recording as much as I enjoyed making it. Remember your own places and times … your loves … your playground.
Love n’ stuff,
Note: With “Playground” completed, California Surf Incorporated is currently recording new material. Click here to follow the group’s activities.