Grant and I are sitting in the Cohn Zohn — at the dining room table of our media empire in the East Bay — and we’re waiting on NFL free agency, less than an hour away. While we wait we are listening to the Beach Boys Greatest Hits II. We both agree that the Beach Boys are better than the Beatles. The Beatles vs. The Stones? No contest. The Stones by a mile. I don’t feel the Beatles have aged well.

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  1. KauaiRobert

    I was always a big Beach Boys fan, but better than the Beatles?
    I’m not with you guys on this one.
    But then again…isn’t that like apples & oranges?
    I mean, some of the psychadeldic stuff was similar and the two groups inspired one another, but I’m pretty sure that John never drove a woody.
    Oh…and I only really liked the Stones’ early tunes.

    March 13th, 2012 12:50 pm

  2. CohnZohn

    Grant and I are listening to Beggars Banquet right now. Just wonderful.

    March 13th, 2012 12:52 pm

  3. Brandon Conway

    There are about 100 Beatles songs I consider great songs – and that’s not an exaggeration. The Beach Boys? Maybe 20. The Stones? Probably around 50-60.
    I think the Beatles were amazing, the Stones were amazing, and the Beach Boys were simply really good. Not to say that’s shabby, because it isn’t – 99% of musicians out there would like to be really good. But I’m disagreeing with you both on this one, Lowell.
    Of course, I’d argue that Led Zeppelin possibly trumps them all. I’d put LZ and The Beatles neck-and-neck. I’d put The Who right about the same as RS.
    The Cure is my favorite band, BTW, but that’s a generational thing more than anything. I doubt you’d like them much, Lowell.

    March 13th, 2012 1:03 pm

  4. CohnZohn

    Brandon Conway, I like the Ramones.

    The Beatles, 100 great songs? Really?

    March 13th, 2012 1:09 pm

  5. Fred G

    The Beach Boys are fun. Yet, they have a formula you can hear in almost every song. I consider them pure pop music. The Beatles had some real substance at times (Eleanor Rigby would be a good example), that clearly escapes the Beach Boys. The Stones had an edge to them. I think they all have their place depending on your mood. However, Led Zeppelin in my opinion, was the greatest rock band. They were original, amazing musicians and they had a sound that can’t be duplicated. I miss the days of original , creative music.

    March 13th, 2012 1:10 pm

  6. Brandon Conway

    The Ramones are good, too.
    “The Beatles, 100 great songs? Really?”
    Sure. There’s 13-14 on The White Album alone. 6-7 on Let It Be, 4-5 on Abbey Road (counting the Medley as 1), 8-9 on Rubber Soul, etc. That just four albums with 30-35 songs I’d consider great. All my opinion, of course.

    March 13th, 2012 1:16 pm

  7. Brian in Oakland

    I’m with you on the Stones — no debate — but I’m not with you on the Beatles. I like the beach boys, but I don’t think that they have nearly as many great songs as the Beatles. I don’t think that saying that the Beatles have 100 great songs goes too far at all.

    I also don’t agree that the Beatles have not aged as well. Perhaps you guys should go and listen to Back in the USSR right now… not only does it send up the Beach Boys in a fun way, but despite the fact that its subject matter is a long defunct superpower, it’s groove sounds as fresh today as it did the minute I first heard it.

    The beach boys sound a bit like “white boy doo-wop”. That’s not a criticism, but I tend to think of them existing in the same time and space as Franky Vali — that is I think of them much more nostagically, feeling that they seem to be from an era that has come and gone.

    The Stones’ and most Beatles’ songs are timeless. I identify with most of them in this moment, just as much as I did when I was 25, or 15.

    You are right about Beggars Banquet, but I would also definitely put anything from Beatles from Revolver on in that same timeless universe.

    March 13th, 2012 1:42 pm

  8. CohnZohn

    Brian in Oakland, I love what you wrote. Grant was just saying — honest — that the Beach Boys are derived from doo-wop. “You can hear them singing on a corner,” he said, sitting at the dining room table.

    March 13th, 2012 1:46 pm

  9. jason

    Impressive that young Mr. Cohn can dig music from us old fogie’s era. My teen slaps oversized muffin earphones on when he’s in my car listening to god knows what that is.
    But then he also listens to Monk, Miles, and Trane. So there’s hope.

    March 13th, 2012 2:15 pm

  10. Neal

    Never liked the Beatles much, actually really like the Monkees back in the day, I loved The Who, saw them over 20 times, never liked the Stones, they sounded like electric garbage cans, Beach Boys are also a great group.

    March 13th, 2012 2:48 pm

  11. Mark M

    great bands one and all

    but the Beatles are kings of all time! How dare you suggest otherwise.

    March 13th, 2012 3:20 pm

  12. Cara

    The Beach Boys songs all sound the same. I wouldn’t even have them in my top 25 groups of all time.

    March 13th, 2012 4:03 pm

  13. Bob In Beaverton

    It’s funny for me to have to choose “the best”. I like them all. “Beggar’s Banquet” is great. But I like the Beatles too. Saw them at Shea Stadium (but with all the screaming couldn’t actually HEAR them). But the Beach Boys were great in their own way. All the surf stuff early, then as Brian Wilson’s mental situation deteriorated he started writing pretty weird but amazing songs. The chord changes in “God Only Knows” are amazing.

    Carl and Dennis Wilson had begun writing interesting stuff but died young, and Brian went off the deep end and lost it for decades. Lennon and McCartney were great together, but after the split not so much. The Stones have had some fallow periods and Mick on his own hasn’t shaken the world, but as a band they’ve got a great catalog. I just bought Keith Richards’ bio, so maybe I’ll gain an even greater appreciation.

    My girlfriend and I were in bed this afternoon enjoying each other and I had my iPod shuffling through 1300 tunes of sixties and early seventies music. There’s a lot of good music there. Kinks, Four Seasons, heck, Skeeter Davis, Dion. I like Leslie Gore. Buffalo Springfield. The Dave Clark Five had some great tunes. The Hollies. The Animals. The Zombies. The Stooges, the MC5.

    By the way, music didn’t start and end in the sixties in my head. I enjoy Sinatra and show tunes and I was in a punk band back around 1980. Elvis Costello, Sham 69, The Stranglers, The Vibrators, The Replacements, X-Ray Spex, the music goes on and on.

    And I’m glad the Niners resigned Carlos Rogers.

    March 13th, 2012 9:34 pm

  14. Evan

    Cobbler, stick to your shoes, and let that be your last of a very undistinguished career, and we all can hope, blessedly short career as a Rock & Roll critic. I’d tell you why, but why waste my time?

    March 13th, 2012 9:49 pm

  15. Johnc

    There have been so many great bands and individual artists over the years. My all time favorite bands are The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Moody Blues, The Who, and Jethro Tull.

    March 13th, 2012 9:50 pm

  16. Ric12string

    I’ll be brief, Lowell. Stick to sports.

    One thing to say you like one band more than another. But, it is an entirely different thing for you to say one band is better than another, or that a band’s music hasn’t aged well. You are in over your head here.

    March 14th, 2012 8:54 am

  17. KauaiRobert

    Street Fighting Man!!!

    March 14th, 2012 12:37 pm

  18. Josh

    Really boggles my mind how some people undermine the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys were head over shoulders above the Beatles on so many different levels. Some of the comments I see on here are so downright ignorant it’s sickening. The Beach Boys music reflected some of the most well-crafted, brilliant harmonies, melodies and sophisticated arrangements of the 20th century. The Beatles were never able to match what Brian Wilson almost single-handedly did. The Beatles were reliant on George Martin almost entirely for the success they had. McCartney was the genius in the group, Lennon was a self-absorbed egocentric jerk. Pet Sounds gets a lot of credit and rightfully so but the Beach Boys made several amazing albums before and after. Surfin USA, Little Deuce Coupe, All Summer Long, Today, Wild Honey, Sunflower to name a few. People are so stupid and illiterate on their music history.

    October 1st, 2012 1:09 am

  19. Joshb

    I’ve grown up around all three, and out of all of them the beach boys are my least favorite. I still dig em, but they are nostalgic at best, ever heard a day in the life by the beatles?? I would put that one song head and shoulders above anything the beach boys have ever done, it was enough to drive brian mad with envy. Literally. He wasnt the same after sgt pepper. Not to mention strawberry fields, revolution, yesterday, lucy in the sky with diamonds, Im so tired, help, ticket to ride, Norwegian wood etc all from different periods in their career. They evolved. The beach boys always sounded the same to me. The stones have some great ones, sympathy for the devil, get off of my cloud, gimmie shelter, ruby tuesday, satisfaction etc Id put them ahead of the beach boys and behind The Beatles. I can say i know more young people who know who the Beatles are and like them. They are timeless. If they are still influential to this day, they have obviously aged just fine.

    December 21st, 2012 4:05 pm

  20. Josh

    I feel really bad for anyone who thinks the “beach boys always sounded the same”- anyone who thinks that is NOT a real music zealot and is beyond ignorant about what great music is and what makes it. The beatles started out with one solid album (meet the beatles), then 2 soundtrack albums (hard days night & help) and then another solid album (rubber soul); after one more solid album (revolver) they were no longer a band, they were a studio outfit that made 3 more albums (sgt pepper, white album and abbey rd) which were great for what they were but at that time the landscape of rockNroll was repaved into a drug-induced excessive mess to say the least. The beach boys made solid albums from the beginning or at least with surfin usa and every album got better with pet sounds being their apex, after that they made several other phenomenal albums (wild honey, sunflower and holland being the best post-pet sounds in my opinion). So “joshb” if I were you I’d take a better listen to the beach boys output and make a new judgement call.

    May 5th, 2013 10:25 pm

  21. Billy

    The Beach Boys rule! The vocals are so much greater than the Beatles.

    July 23rd, 2013 7:54 pm

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