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Author Topic: Surf's Up: A Beach Boys Podcast Safari featuring an interview with David Leaf  (Read 622 times)
Mark Dillon
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« on: February 26, 2019, 09:30:35 AM »

Phil Miglioratti (of the Pray for Surf blog) and I have launched a new podcast titled Surf's Up: A Beach Boys Podcast Safari. And we're starting things off with an interview with David Leaf.

David's book The Beach Boys and the California Myth was hugely influential to my understanding, appreciation and ongoing interest in the group, inspiring me to write my own book many years later. David, as you know, also coproduced the Good Vibrations: 30 Years of The Beach Boys and Pet Sounds Sessions box sets, wrote and produced An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson and directed the SMiLE documentary Beautiful Dreamer.

He touches on all those milestones, muses on what makes The Beach Boys special, and speculates on the music's future legacy. Have a listen here and let us know what you think: https://ia601409.us.archive.org/31/items/01SurfsUpDavidLeaf/01%20Surf%27s%20Up_%20David%20Leaf.mp3

P.S. I know our sound quality ain't the greatest. We're working on it.
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seltaeb1012002
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2019, 09:20:53 AM »

Well done Mark, I really enjoyed it.

Glad to hear David's doing well and looking forward to future episodes!
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Mark Dillon
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 09:27:34 AM »

Well done Mark, I really enjoyed it.

Glad to hear David's doing well and looking forward to future episodes!

Thanks seltaeb1012002. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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JakeH
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 09:51:44 AM »

Thanks for making this available, hopefully you can do more with Leaf in the future.

I do think that when you're talking about Leaf, you're not really talking "Beach Boys" as much as "Brian Wilson" and Brian Wilson's relationship with the separate entity called Beach Boys.  That's really what his book is about - that they're not the same thing.  I imagine that if a person read the book at the time of its publication (1978), that would have been the most notable and perhaps surprising thing about it; before that book, the internal divide may not have been as widely perceived.

It's interesting that he brought up the Introduction/Foreword to his book, because that is something that stood out to me when I found a copy and read it - he is basically saying there that he really didn't know what he was getting into, in terms of what he was writing about.  This speaks to the "agenda" or "bias" issue that some people have trouble with; the question is whether or not Leaf had a pro-Brian bias going in to the project, or whether or not his bias (and it's undeniable that he is sympathetic to Brian's p.o.v.) came about as a result of what he learned during the research and writing of the book.

It's reasonably well-known that Leaf is not really a "Beach Boys" insider as much as a "Brian Wilson" insider - that is, he is (or was) someone who was close to Brian... one small but perhaps important point that I've never really seen anyone address is how that personal relationship came about.  My assumption has always been that Brian read Leaf's book, and/or was aware of its content, and things moved on from there.  I really don't see how it could be otherwise.  Anyway, that's something that I would be interested in knowing: Did Brian read the California Myth book? If so, when?

In his memoir of 2016, Mike Love was very criticial, if not contemptuous, of Leaf.  I would be interested in what Leaf's response to that would be, that is, if he was willing to discuss.

Thanks again, good luck with your podcast.
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2019, 10:34:38 AM »

I have not listened to the podcast, full disclosure - But I plan to as soon as I can.

I just wanted to add to previous comments and say that as soon as I saw the title of the podcast, the one most blatantly obvious topic I was curious to hear from David himself was his reaction to Mike Love's book. David and his book (and writings/words in general) are on the list of Mike's targets throughout...in this case David is one of those able to respond unlike others called out by Mike...and I wanted to hear what David thought after reading Mike's comments. If that is not covered in the podcast, maybe a "part 2" would address it in the future.

As far as bias in writing a book - That's like being surprised in learning firsthand any hard or inconvenient truth, such as "life isn't fair" and "why do good people end up getting the shaft?".  Every book about this band and every author who decided to wade into these waters has had to face some stark realities about the personal/familial issues that have been crippling this band from inside for the better part of 60 years. And whichever "sources" said authors of said books have relied on for either minor or significant chunks of info will come loaded with a bias because it's how they saw things play out...or what they were told by the firsthand subjects.

It's funny to see some suggesting how biased other books are, and going to ridiculous lengths to put a magnifying glass on mistakes and errors, on books from Leaf, Gaines, Carlin, etc while holding up things said in Mike's book as near Gospel Truth simply because Mike said it was so on those pages. The biases are there and will always be there on anything related to documenting the private side of this band - Many reading will believe what they read, because it's in print. But ultimately the fans more invested will be able to sift through and pull out what matters.

In the case of David's original book, "is there/has there been/can there be" a rundown of things that detractors or supporters of other band members' versions of events can peg as a clear case of getting it wrong in that book 40 years ago?  Again, if so, the opportunity could be here through a follow-up for David himself to address them.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
Mark Dillon
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2019, 10:59:19 AM »

I have not listened to the podcast, full disclosure - But I plan to as soon as I can.

I just wanted to add to previous comments and say that as soon as I saw the title of the podcast, the one most blatantly obvious topic I was curious to hear from David himself was his reaction to Mike Love's book. David and his book (and writings/words in general) are on the list of Mike's targets throughout...in this case David is one of those able to respond unlike others called out by Mike...and I wanted to hear what David thought after reading Mike's comments. If that is not covered in the podcast, maybe a "part 2" would address it in the future.

As far as bias in writing a book - That's like being surprised in learning firsthand any hard or inconvenient truth, such as "life isn't fair" and "why do good people end up getting the shaft?".  Every book about this band and every author who decided to wade into these waters has had to face some stark realities about the personal/familial issues that have been crippling this band from inside for the better part of 60 years. And whichever "sources" said authors of said books have relied on for either minor or significant chunks of info will come loaded with a bias because it's how they saw things play out...or what they were told by the firsthand subjects.

It's funny to see some suggesting how biased other books are, and going to ridiculous lengths to put a magnifying glass on mistakes and errors, on books from Leaf, Gaines, Carlin, etc while holding up things said in Mike's book as near Gospel Truth simply because Mike said it was so on those pages. The biases are there and will always be there on anything related to documenting the private side of this band - Many reading will believe what they read, because it's in print. But ultimately the fans more invested will be able to sift through and pull out what matters.

In the case of David's original book, "is there/has there been/can there be" a rundown of things that detractors or supporters of other band members' versions of events can peg as a clear case of getting it wrong in that book 40 years ago?  Again, if so, the opportunity could be here through a follow-up for David himself to address them.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, and from JakeH as well. We did not get to Mike's book in this conversation due to time restraints. But I very much want to ask David about that, Brian's book, Love and Mercy, the 50th Anniversary Tour... all the major stuff of the past few years. I think we will be doing a part two looking into all that.

In terms of writers and bias, the approach for my own book was to give all the key players their turn to express themselves, and to enter into it with as little bias as possible. If somebody told me they thought Eugene Landy was a great guy, I would have printed that.
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Alan: “God forbid any other Beach Boys go up onstage and actually be a Beach Boy.”
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