A very strange but quite informative “description” of the songwriting genius from The Beach Boys. If you haven`t listened to this man`s music then I suggest you head over to a place where you can listen to “Pet Sounds”, released in 1966. Fairly old, yes, but worth its weight in gold from a perspective of songwriting, arrangement, production and performance. Very inventive for its time and still higly enjoyable to listen to. Go on -check it out! You know you want to!
Brian: loved or loathed genius
By Tracy Thomas
If you should ever meet Brian Wilson, you would either take to him or despise him immediately. His continual drive for a new “kick” would charm or alarm you.
His desire for very close and constant ties with his friends would develop or envelop you.
But you could not ignore him. And no matter which view you took, your recognition of his talent would override your emotions and you would respect him.
For, coming second only to Smokey Robinson, Vice-president of Motown Records, songwriter and producer for the Miracles and Temptations, and lead singer and performer with the former group, Brian is the complete musician.
Singlehandedly, for all practical purposes, he has made the Beach Boys the top group in the world. “Singlehanded” because Brian takes each song from the first inspiration through to the record sleeve, with only occasional advice and certainly complete co-operation from the others, but without substantial collaboration.
The Beach Boys have no manager, which places more responsibility on the broad, bulky shoulders of their reluctant, but undeniable leader.
Brian is too hasty, too easily moved by something momentarily new and groovy. All too often, he forgets past decisions. And he calls BB corporation meetings at the drop of Mike’s cap, ostensibly to form new policies, but usually just to talk.
But by virtue of his size and his genius, Brian, despite his ramblings and changes of mood and inclination, is spiritually the leader (actual decisions are made by the majority).
Brian’s appearance is striking — he’s very tall, well over six foot. His weight fluctuates weekly — he’s constantly on or off a health food diet. His hair is kept long (longest in the group) and shaggy (he combs it with his fingers, all the time).
His clothes do not fit the BB mould. He goes for big paisley or flowered shirts with ballooning sleeves, tail hanging out over his white Levis. It’s pretty much what most Southern Californians wear, only more expensive.
He is invariably hungry. And he wanders a lot, mentally and physically his mind is usually on another track (side two, cut three).
Marilyn Wilson is very housewifely and motherly to everyone, though she’s only 20 years old. She and Brian were sweethearts for years before they married last year.
Brian’s in-laws, the Rovells, have a picture in their home of the pair when they were teenagers. The Wilsons spend 50 per cent of their time at the Rovells’ and Marilyn’s two sisters are frequent visitors to the Wilson home.
The last time I saw the Beverly Hills house, it was furnished in expensive casual. Two enormous, but friendly dogs followed their master and mistress everywhere — from spacious room to large patio. Marilyn had charbroiled some huge steaks and corn on the cob. I must say that she’s a great cook, and so’s her mother!
However, the home is currently undergoing radical remodelling. Tales of a room that looks like the inside of a tent and one that’s a sandbox have been circulating.
Next week, the entire plan might be different, perhaps oriental. Brian’s a changeable lad.
At times, he is remarkably perceptive and sees right through a cloudy situation. Mostly, he’s full of opinions on every topic. Some are valid, all are interesting.
He fees deeply the new closeness of his family. It was not always so and the sensitive Wilson boys are painfully conscious of yesterday’s fireworks.
All three attribute this new sympatico to their mutual discovery of God. None values organised religion, but all agree on the concept of God.
In the recording studio, Brian is another man. Every part of his brain is concentrated on the job at hand.
When one of the others makes a funny comment, he either doesn`t hear it all, or has to pause momentarily before chuckling.
He is a fanatical perfectionist. He will listen to a track over and over for 20 minutes before throwing it out. I’ve been at a three-hour recording session during which only one set of da-doo-ron-rons were recorded.
The track that he kept, he threw out two weeks later and they re-did it with woo-woo-she-swop or something.
Brian usually goes into a session knowing exactly what he wants. He’s been hearing this for several weeks now and goes straight to his work. Changes are seldom made in the studio. Instead, the revisions are made in between, after Brian’s listened to the track a thousand times.
This dedication to perfection does not always endear him to his fellow Beach Boys, nor their wives, nor their next door neighbours, with whom they were to have dinner, but the session ran over an extra hour. But when the finished product is “Good Vibrations” or “Pet Sounds” or “Smile” they hold back their complaints.
As Bruce says, “When all is said and done (and after the last BB corporation meeting, I think we’re getting close to that point) Brian is worth the traumas!”