Thursday, October 07, 2004

Brian Wilson presents Smile Part II: I Guess I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

The time: 1967. On the heels of the Beach Boys's Pet Sounds and the Beatles Rubber Soul, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys set out to create a concept album called Smile, the whole thing constructed the way one might construct a symphony. And he did. And then the world ended.

Not literally of course, but for Brian. Chronic depression, stage fright, and LSD use made Brian's mental state fragile. Coincidental fires made Brian think rehearsals of his Fire Suite "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" was causing them. As he prepared the music for Smile, there was a mutiny. Mike Love hated Van Dyke Parks's lyrics. And Mike Love was enamored of the cars / sun / chicks motif, to the exclusion of just about anything else. (I always think of Mike when I hear the Pet Sounds lyric "No one wants to help me look for places where new things might be found.") And so, with Brian feeling like he was the only one who truly cared about this new music and doubt creeping in about its viability, he quit: Smile, the Beach Boys (in essence,) and life. Extreme weight gain, bizarre behavior, and a steady, inexorable decline of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson that slowed, lurched upward (Come and Go With Me, Getcha Back, Kokomo) but never fully ascended.

Brian was saved from total personal destruction only to fall under the Svengali like sway of Eugene Landy. But he was rescued ultimately by love. Not Mike. The marrying kind.

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