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649735 Posts in 25976 Topics by 3702 Members - Latest Member: GV August 22, 2019, 02:34:18 PM
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Author Topic: Fictional Brian Van conversation circa Spring 1966  (Read 458 times)
Very Extremely Dan
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« on: February 10, 2019, 12:36:43 PM »

A client of my recording studio asked me to turn them on to SMiLE.....which I of course obliged.....and after explaining modular, tape-edit based composition, Arthur Koestler and "bisociation", 400,000+ album covers, etc.   I thought it'd be easier to be easier to explain to them SMiLE's themes through a fictional conversation between Brian and Van at the outset of SMiLE.  Was fun to do and thought some folks on the board might get a kick out of it.....

 Van Dyke Parks:  So, Brian, new album, what are you thinking?

Brian Wilson:  Well Van, I really believe in the power of music to help people and make mental connections for people and I want to use it as a force of good.  So, I'm really concerned about the smog problem in LA and the general poor treatment of the native environment at the hands of big business so I want to make an album to try and get that point across to people and help make the change for a healthier environment and future.

VDP:  Cool!  Well, how about writing a fable?

BW:  Whaddya mean?

VDP:  Well, a fable is a fictional story that features animals, plants, inanimate objects and/or forces of nature that are given human qualities such as the ability to speak, that illustrates a moral lesson which is usually added at the end explicitly as a maxim.

BW:  Well, that's cool because I'm already thinking about writing a song for each element to get people thinking about the environment.  I've got one called "Wind Chimes".  I started writing it about how peaceful it is to cool out to wind chimes but by the second verse it turned into a bad trip the more I thought about how bad the air quality has gotten in LA.

VDP:  Wow!   Do you have any other tracks going?

BW:  Well, I've got one song that Mike and I wrote during "Pet Sounds" called "Good Vibrations" but it doesn't really have much to do with what we're talking about, you could write new lyrics for it if you want....(plays the song)...

VDP:  Brian, I love it!  And I love those lyrics!  It's Boy meets Girl.....That's the most universal, symbolism rich, blank canvas in the world for our fable. So who is this girl?  What is she a symbol of ? What is she a metaphor for? 

BW:  Ummm....

VDP:  Well, if you're talking about air....e.e. Cummings "The Wind is a Lady With" comes to mind....Or if you're talking about the environment as a whole--Mother Nature.  Or since you' are THE American artist singing about the air pollution in California how about Lady Liberty?  Or how about the effect this business of Manifest Destiny has had on Native America.....Pocahontas?  Or heading west, Sacagawea?  Or since people are calling you a leader of this new youth movement maybe she's a flower child, or a soul sister, or a surfer girl....Anyway, you get the idea.....The girl in "Good Vibrations" is a stand in for all these female archetypes that we want to keep the love happening with....starting with Mother Earth!  And look, right away in the first verse you're describing her in elemental terms:  "I, I love the colorful clothes she wears/and the way THE SUNLIGHT plays upon her hair/ I hear the sound of a gentle word on THE WIND that lifts her perfume through THE AIR" 

Brian:  Wow!  So when we write a song about how I love my girl using light and air and "blossom world" imagery we'll also be writing about Mother Nature?

Van Dyke:  Exactly!  I can think of lots of songs and poems we can draw inspiration from:  Wordsworth's "My Heart Leaps Up" aka "Child is the Father of the Man" about how time spent in nature keeps you young.  Or how about "You are My Sunshine"?  Or the "Old Master Painter" about seeing God in the sunset:  "Then came his masterpiece/ and when he was through/ He SMiLED down from heaven and he gave me you/ What a beautiful job on that WONDERFUL day/ The old master painter from the hills faraway"  You even say "softly SMiLE" in the 2nd verse of "Good Vibrations"; might be a cool connection.....

Brian:  Totally!  That might be a good name for the album!  SMiLE!  Because that's what I want to happen for the listener.  I was thinking about "Dumb Angel" because Capitol's classical label is called Angel Records and I want to write a teenage symphony to God....but Pet Sounds was too serious and down.  With this album, I want to talk about some heavy stuff but in the end I want to give them hope because we're going to make a change and make this world a healthier place.  You know, world history, American history, it's filled with war and destruction and dark sh*t but it's also incredible and beautiful. 

VDP:  Exactly, the fire of enlightenment is the Mother of Invention--it can burn you, but for all it's dangers we must not let it go out!

Brian:   Let's write it!
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