There are very few exact dates in music history that really mean a lot to the medium. But today is one of those days, as we've reached the 50th anniversary of two of popular music's greatest albums. On this day in 1966, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys released the stunning and stirring Pet Sounds, while Bob Dylan put out the wild mercury of Blonde On Blonde. For two albums frequently placed among the greatest of all-time to be released this day 50 years ago certainly strikes me as a cause for celebration. Both records have endured as masterworks that brought unique and vital visions to music, the reverberations of which have been felt ever since.

With Pet Sounds, the eleventh album from The Beach Boys, Wilson was able to vault his band into the pantheon of pop music. The then-23-year-old bandleader stepped away from the group's tour schedule in the wake of a breakdown and instead focused on crafting music he hoped would be good enough to rival The Beatles. His resulting creation--which was essentially a solo album that only utilized his bandmates as vocal instruments--initially received a mixed critical reaction and instigated a great deal of turmoil within the group. However, Pet Sounds has emerged as a defining moment in pop history.

The elaborate layers of off-the-wall instrumentation, signature Beach Boy vocal harmonies and complex chord progressions was absolutely unheard of at the time. Wilson's arrangements could be and have been easily argued as some of the most beautiful ever assembled. The cohesion of the production and lyrics creates a gorgeously wistful 37-minute experience.

The album begins with pining love of 'Wouldn't It Be Nice,' which introduces much of the record's zany instrumental inclinations. The track features a mandolin, sleigh bells, horns, a timpani and more, as well as an unidentified instrument playing the signature opening notes. (Is it a 12-string guitar? A Vox Mandoguitar? A harp? No one seems to know.) But the pocket symphony intro merely serves as an entrance to the album's awe-inspiring beauty. The pained crumble of 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)' is far more subdued and minimal compared to much of Pet Sounds, but the lyrics' acknowledgment that "there are words we both could say" seems to be reflected in a song where less is more. The band's rendition of 'Sloop John B' (originally a West Indies folk song known as 'The John B. Sails') twinkles and snaps as Wilson laments--in a telling allusion to his drug use--"this is the worst trip I've ever been on."

The album peaks with the unparalleled perfection of 'God Only Knows.' The song has gone down as one of the most complex, beautiful, and masterful songs ever recorded. Using non-diatonic chords in the verses to reflect the lyrics' ambiguous nature before giving way to a clear progression as vocalist Carl Wilson angelically coos, "God only knows what I'd be without you."

With Pet Sounds, one is presented with a marvel of musical craftsmanship. Using innovative techniques and challenging methods, Wilson was able to conjure up one of pop's most complexly arranged and staggeringly beautiful records. Few others can even approach it.

In fact, one of the only records that could make a case for being as brilliant is Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, albeit for vastly different reasons. One can imagine it must have been one hell of a treat to be a listener on May 16, 1966 when they were graced with two very different brands of genius.

After recording two of rock's greatest records in 1965--Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited--Dylan capped his creative peak by letting one of rock's first double albums loose upon the world. He was only 24-years-old when Blonde On Blonde came out, but you wouldn't know it from the lyrics that fill this opus. It was once described by music critic Robert Shelton as the album that "begins with a joke and ends on a hymn." Dylan and his band pulled from a wealth of blues styles while the venerable, enigmatic singer-songwriter dove into surrealist visions of emptiness, hurt, love, uncertainty, materialism and vulnerability.

The album casts off with the marching band insanity of 'Rainy Day Women #12 & 35' and presses on with a litany of wistful masterpieces. The bounce of 'I Want You' features a winding, overwhelming cast of characters stuffed into the verses ("a guilty undertaker," "the lonesome organ grinder," "your dancing child with his Chinese suit," and more) offset with a direct and simple sentiment of love in the chorus. There is also the heartache-fueled pain of 'Just Like A Woman,' in which Dylan laments the immaturity of a lover. While still dismissed as misogynistic by some, the lovelorn vocal delivery and confessional nature convey a different message of a failed relationship that Dylan truly wanted to see work.

Then there is 'Visions Of Johanna,' a sprawling epic filled to the brim with subtle, delicately crafted tableaux. The track is as famously enigmatic as its writer, "forever teetering on the brink of lucidity, yet remaining impervious to strict decipherment" as music critic Andy Gill once wrote. A favorite among Dylanophiles for this reason, the song marked a significant turning point in which Dylan pulled away from externally minded lyrics (see: 'Blowin' In The Wind') to more introspective material that dealt with questions of the self.

On the album's cover, Dylan appears blurred and out of focus. When one considers the complex emotions, ideas, themes that run through this album and the inability to ever completely make sense of them, it makes sense why Dylan would choose this photograph.

So with two amazing records celebrating their 50th anniversary here on May 16, sit down and listen and marvel at the magic of music for even a few moments. And, if you feel like waxing poetic, think of the innumerable ways how both Wilson and Dylan both changed the medium forever with these amazing releases, both while in their early 20s. It is near impossible to imagine modern music, as we know it, without the musical innovations of Wilson and the complex lyricism of Dylan. So take a second out of your day to appreciate these stunning achievements. Let them wash over you. Lyrics, instrumentation, production: it can all make you feel something if you let it.