The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine and His Rediscovered Album, A Postcard from California

The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine and His Rediscovered Album, A Postcard from California

Written by Andrew Daly

As a founding member of America’s surf-rock legends the Beach Boys, Al Jardine didn’t need to make a solo record back in 2010; he wanted to. And that might be why A Postcard from California wound up taking him so long to make.

After performing with Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson and company since the group’s founding in 1961, who could blame Jardine for wanting to take his time in creating his first solo album almost 50 years later? Musically, the album sounds like a logical progression from his Beach Boys days, while still retaining the sonic and production values he gained through that experience.

I recently asked Al Jardine about this perhaps-overlooked gem, which was reissued at the end of 2022.

“The [idea for the] record actually started with a song called “Don’t Fight the Sea,'” recalls Jardine. “It was [originally going to be] a Beach Boys song, with a title that originated from Terry Jacks (writer of “Seasons in the Sun”), who I really respect. We tried to record it for the 15 Big Ones album in 1976, but it didn’t work out. From there, I started kicking around the idea of the solo record. Even though we couldn’t get [“Don’t Fight the Sea”] done in the 1970s, Terry had a big hit with it. I always thought it had potential as a Beach Boys song, though, and I like that all the Beach Boys are singing on my [A Postcard from California] version.”


Al Jardine, A Postcard from California, album cover.


As the author of standout Beach Boys songs such as “South Bay Surfer (The Old Folks Home),” “How She Boogalooed It,” and “Don’t Go Near the Water,” Jardine proved to be a key cog in the Beach Boys wheel, providing deep cuts juxtaposed to Brian Wilson’s pop bliss. But did Jardine feel indebted to the Beach Boys tried-and-true sound when he recorded A Postcard from California?

“It’s hard to say because that sound is very close to my heart,” Jardine said. “But the group was more or less disbanded as a recording band [at the time], and I sort of got lonely for some musical company. It took me a while to find something that worked – I was in no rush – and I started gathering a different sort of local blend together and compiling music.”

“I made a ton of phone calls and brought in a lot of dear friends, all of [whom] helped me find a sound that was familiar but also new,” Jardine reminisced. “Of note is the vocal that Glen Campbell provided for the title track, and then Neil Young, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills did a wonderful job on “A California Saga.” These are just a few things that make this album distinct from my Beach Boys work.”

As personal as A Postcard from California is, Jardine, like the rest of the Beach Boys, couldn’t entirely escape Brian Wilson’s influence and genius as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. And so, instead of casting them aside, Jardine embraced the things his longtime bandmate taught him, deeply rooting them in the musical fabric of his own record.


“It was important to me to include Brian,” recounts Jardine. “Brian always told me, ‘Al, you have to finish your songs,’ and as simple as that sounds, I took it to heart. And Brian is on the record in a few places like ‘Drivin” and ‘Honkin’ Down the Highway.’ Brian taught me so much, and he’s been an important person in my life; A Postcard from California is a celebration of all of that rather than trying to be separate from it.”

Familiar sounds aside, the real personal touch of A Postcard from California lies in the lyrics. After years of singing about surfing big waves and California girls, Jardine took the opportunity to sing about the ideals that meant the most to him.

A Postcard from California is a true representation of the West Coast as I see it,” Jardine noted. “A life on the West Coast, in many ways, is a passionate one, looked at through the lens of escapism. Being able to take that journey musically meant a lot to me. I wanted to paint a musical picture about taking a cool drive down the highway along the coast.”

“It’s a lifestyle and a culture that is still vibrant out here,” continued Jardine. “That’s a lifestyle I’ve lived and loved for a long time. I wanted to share that with people, and I wanted it to be apparent in the music. I’ve always wanted to capture the excitement and joy of surfing and express my concern and love for the environment. I think A Postcard from California does both.”

Never one to rush anything, some 12 years after A Postcard from California’s original 2010 release, Jardine’s first and still-only solo record was reissued on CD at the end of 2022. The album was initially released on CD in 2010 only in limited numbers, then briefly reissued through Yamaha Music & Visuals in 2012, but has been out of print since. So, an obvious question is, why re-issue it now?

“Ten years out of print is too long,” Jardine joked. “Honestly, that’s a good question. I suppose we just felt it was time. And with more Beach Boys-related material that [recently] came out on the Sail on Sailor – 1972 [deluxe box set], we felt it was as good a time as any to get A Postcard from California out there again too. Hopefully, it gains some momentum from the [recent release of the] Beach Boys box set and gains some new life, too.”

For Beach Boys and Al Jardine fans this is an exciting time, with much new unreleased and perhaps forgotten music seeing the light of day. While it seems evident that the Beach Boys’ vaults still contain some unheard gems, how about Jardine’s personal archives?


Al Jardine with the Beach Boys in 1964. Courtesy of Capitol Records.


“I love my vinyl,” Jardine beamed. “I’ve kept a little box of LPs I’ve had forever, and I listen to them now and again. I think it’s a great medium. But what’s interesting is that my attention has been focused back on cassettes lately by my media guy, Spud. I have a lot of unfinished material on cassettes, and I’ve seen that they’re making a comeback. Of all things, I wouldn’t have expected that. So, along with A Postcard from California, there’s more to come. We’ll be reviewing a lot of cassettes and demos from the last half century and see what we have.”

Since the Beach Boys’ inception, Al Jardine has been a pillar of the surf rock community. He’s a man unhesitant to champion his love for the ocean and the sand. At age 80, Jardine’s love for music and life is as voracious as ever. Considering that Jardine has only offered up one solo record to date, one has to wonder if he’ll leave his fans forever wanting more…


“I’m not sure if I’ll do another,” Jardine admitted. “I still love to play music, but this one took me a long time. (laughs) Regardless, I think A Postcard from California holds up pretty well. The music has been received very warmly. I’m very appreciative of that.”

“I think it’s quite beautiful musically, and that’s why I dedicated it to my wife, Mary Ann,” Jardine noted. “I feel fortunate to [now] have it re-released by Universal Music Group because it was never properly distributed before and fell under the radar. So, maybe it’ll get a second chance at a broader audience who will enjoy it beyond our little West Coast community. Beyond that, I’ve got plenty of music left to play.”


Header image courtesy of Jeff McEvoy.

Back to Copper home page