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Author Topic: General Most Loved BB Book?  (Read 1639 times)
stinkynimrod
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« on: May 08, 2019, 11:29:04 AM »

Howdy all, finally getting back into reading since I have a lot more stare-at-the-wall time than usual. Wanted to know what the general consensus is on BB literature, which books are the most in-depth to the best of their factual ability and cover all the ups and downs without bias. I'm anxiously awaiting the 2nd run of Ken Sharp's Dreamer but I'd like a depressing/uplifting/heartbreaking/life-affirming book on the Boys to dig through in the meantime.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2019, 10:40:10 AM »

Howdy all, finally getting back into reading since I have a lot more stare-at-the-wall time than usual. Wanted to know what the general consensus is on BB literature, which books are the most in-depth to the best of their factual ability and cover all the ups and downs without bias. I'm anxiously awaiting the 2nd run of Ken Sharp's Dreamer but I'd like a depressing/uplifting/heartbreaking/life-affirming book on the Boys to dig through in the meantime.

Hi, sn. Check out the book reviews here:

http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/board,5.0.html

It might give you some ideas. But I'd say you can't go wrong with Peter Ames Carlin's Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Wink   
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myonlysunshine
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2019, 11:01:43 AM »

I posted my thoughts about what I consider to be the best books about the band in a thread from a few years ago:

As noted by others above, Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin is fantastic. To me it's the best starting point for anyone who is interested in reading a chronological overview of Brian's life.

Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 by James B. Murphy is one of the most incredible books on the band I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The amount of details crammed into it, especially given its relatively limited temporal focus, is absolutely insane.

Speaking of incredible books, The Beach Boys In Concert: The Ultimate History Of America's Band On Tour And Onstage, by Ian Rusten and Jon Stebbins is another amazing resource for anyone interested in the touring history of the band. It's more of a reference book/textbook than a book book, but it's really something else.

Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile! is another amazing work. Similar to the In Concert book, it's more of a scrapbook than a book book, but it's extremely enlightening if you're interested in learning more about how the band was viewed/what was being written about the band in the press leading up to, during, and after The Smile Sessions.

The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks by Jon Stebbins is another one worth reading. It contains a lot of stories you won't find anywhere else, and the amount of details David provides about the period of time that he was in the band, and what he was up to before the band was formed and after he left it, makes it an extremely worthy entry into the Beach Boys literary canon.

Wouldn't It Be Nice: Brian Wilson and the Making of Pet Sounds by Charles Granta is a solid book/resource. My only issue with it is that I never felt like the book really explored what Brian was aiming to accomplish by making Pet Sounds, (aside from what is already well known) nor did it add to my appreciation of the album itself, but it does have a lot of really good insider information about how the album was composed and produced. Tony Asher provided his own recollections of what the composing process with Brian was like.

I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Philip Lambert's Inside the Music of Brian Wilson, but I own the book and actually plan to start reading the book later tonight. From everything I've ever heard about it though, it's highly recommended.

I own The Beach Boys and the California Myth, but never got around to reading it beyond the first couple of chapters. One of these days I will finish it.

There are plenty of other great books worth reading too – The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left To Know About America's Band by Jon Stebbins, Brian's recent autobiography/memoir, and from what I hear, The Real Beach Boy: Dennis Wilson by Jon Stebbins is great as well, although I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading it. But I feel like the books above are the cream of the crop when it comes to books written about the band.

Man... first post on this board in years, but I guess I'm back. I blame Sunshine Tomorrow. Grin

I would say my only update to this is that I have now read “Inside The Music of Brian Wilson”. It’s good, but dry. A lot of reviews point this out, and while reviews can sometimes be off-base with their critiques, it is an accurate criticism in this case.

For my money, the best book on the band is Jim Murphy’s “Becoming The Beach Boys”.
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rab2591
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2019, 12:38:51 PM »

Howdy all, finally getting back into reading since I have a lot more stare-at-the-wall time than usual. Wanted to know what the general consensus is on BB literature, which books are the most in-depth to the best of their factual ability and cover all the ups and downs without bias. I'm anxiously awaiting the 2nd run of Ken Sharp's Dreamer but I'd like a depressing/uplifting/heartbreaking/life-affirming book on the Boys to dig through in the meantime.

I personally prefer Peter Carlin's Catch A Wave Brian Wilson biography. It covers a lot of the Beach Boys history, usually without a slant. There is what could be seen as a bias against Mike, but literally you can't write a Beach Boys book without pointing out some of the more weird things Mike has done to his cousin. So if there is bias, it is basically just pointing out some incidents that have happened between the two over the years (which you kinda have to cover in a biography). My favorite part(s) of the book are when Carlin does a writeup of each released album, talks about their strengths and weaknesses - you can listen to the albums as you read and its a pretty fun experience.

Stebbin's FAQ book is a fantastic guide to The Beach Boys, and a must have. But it doesn't really read as a chronicled history of the band (and it doesn't try to be, which is refreshing, but it may not be what you're looking for).

Look, Listen, Vibrate, Smile, is another must have, but there's not much you can "read" - there are plenty of essays and articles, but again, it's not really a written history of Smile.

I own Jim Murphy's book but haven't read it - having limited time these days sucks because there are so many books I want to read but haven't yet!

Best of luck finding a good book you like!
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The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2019, 01:03:18 PM »

I posted my thoughts about what I consider to be the best books about the band in a thread from a few years ago:

As noted by others above, Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin is fantastic. To me it's the best starting point for anyone who is interested in reading a chronological overview of Brian's life.

Becoming The Beach Boys 1961-1963 by James B. Murphy is one of the most incredible books on the band I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The amount of details crammed into it, especially given its relatively limited temporal focus, is absolutely insane.

Speaking of incredible books, The Beach Boys In Concert: The Ultimate History Of America's Band On Tour And Onstage, by Ian Rusten and Jon Stebbins is another amazing resource for anyone interested in the touring history of the band. It's more of a reference book/textbook than a book book, but it's really something else.

Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile! is another amazing work. Similar to the In Concert book, it's more of a scrapbook than a book book, but it's extremely enlightening if you're interested in learning more about how the band was viewed/what was being written about the band in the press leading up to, during, and after The Smile Sessions.

The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks by Jon Stebbins is another one worth reading. It contains a lot of stories you won't find anywhere else, and the amount of details David provides about the period of time that he was in the band, and what he was up to before the band was formed and after he left it, makes it an extremely worthy entry into the Beach Boys literary canon.

Wouldn't It Be Nice: Brian Wilson and the Making of Pet Sounds by Charles Granta is a solid book/resource. My only issue with it is that I never felt like the book really explored what Brian was aiming to accomplish by making Pet Sounds, (aside from what is already well known) nor did it add to my appreciation of the album itself, but it does have a lot of really good insider information about how the album was composed and produced. Tony Asher provided his own recollections of what the composing process with Brian was like.

I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Philip Lambert's Inside the Music of Brian Wilson, but I own the book and actually plan to start reading the book later tonight. From everything I've ever heard about it though, it's highly recommended.

I own The Beach Boys and the California Myth, but never got around to reading it beyond the first couple of chapters. One of these days I will finish it.

There are plenty of other great books worth reading too – The Beach Boys FAQ: All That's Left To Know About America's Band by Jon Stebbins, Brian's recent autobiography/memoir, and from what I hear, The Real Beach Boy: Dennis Wilson by Jon Stebbins is great as well, although I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading it. But I feel like the books above are the cream of the crop when it comes to books written about the band.

Man... first post on this board in years, but I guess I'm back. I blame Sunshine Tomorrow. Grin

I would say my only update to this is that I have now read “Inside The Music of Brian Wilson”. It’s good, but dry. A lot of reviews point this out, and while reviews can sometimes be off-base with their critiques, it is an accurate criticism in this case.

For my money, the best book on the band is Jim Murphy’s “Becoming The Beach Boys”.

I would only add that "The Beach Boys and the California Myth" was a major reference used for many, if not most of these books.
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2019, 02:07:05 PM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of of all of the major books that followed.
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2019, 05:39:15 AM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2019, 03:38:32 AM »

The Lovester’s book is the best for rear end wiping. Highly recommended.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2019, 06:17:04 AM »

I am partial to The Beach Boys In Concert (Backbeat 2103), I can't explain why Grin
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Gerry
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2019, 10:39:34 AM »

without question, David Leaf's book. I lived with that book for years. I thought he did a great job.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2019, 01:21:05 PM »

I am partial to The Beach Boys In Concert (Backbeat 2103), I can't explain why Grin
Me too, as I am to every book in which I am thanked in the acknowledgements! (Okay, this is the only one.)
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2019, 08:04:34 AM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

David is busy being a UCLA professor these days, but he could also be writing. I guess we'll know if he announces some future projects. Another amazing (and famous) writer who was a friend of David's was Timothy White. "The Nearest Faraway Place" took a fascinating approach as well.
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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2019, 10:00:23 AM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

I sometimes run across a book by David Leaf just called The Beach Boys (e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Beach-Boys-by-David-Leaf-1985-HC-DJ-Pages-208-Great-Condition/143246494207?epid=4474660&hash=item215a2809ff:g:MV8AAOSwO2pcjrjP). I'm assuming this is not the one in question. Just curious what it was.
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2019, 10:45:16 PM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

I sometimes run across a book by David Leaf just called The Beach Boys (e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Beach-Boys-by-David-Leaf-1985-HC-DJ-Pages-208-Great-Condition/143246494207?epid=4474660&hash=item215a2809ff:g:MV8AAOSwO2pcjrjP). I'm assuming this is not the one in question. Just curious what it was.

That is the second edition of same book, with a further short addendum to the story included. The revised edition if you will...
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2019, 11:24:03 PM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

David is busy being a UCLA professor these days, but he could also be writing. I guess we'll know if he announces some future projects. Another amazing (and famous) writer who was a friend of David's was Timothy White. "The Nearest Faraway Place" took a fascinating approach as well.
"The Nearest Faraway Place was the first Beach Boys book I ever got, back in the mid 1990's. The extensive history of the family lineage is a bit much for my taste, but then again I haven't really read it since I was in my early teens.
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« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2019, 01:42:06 AM »

David is busy being a UCLA professor these days, but he could also be writing. I guess we'll know if he announces some future projects. Another amazing (and famous) writer who was a friend of David's was Timothy White. "The Nearest Faraway Place" took a fascinating approach as well.
"The Nearest Faraway Place was the first Beach Boys book I ever got, back in the mid 1990's. The extensive history of the family lineage is a bit much for my taste, but then again I haven't really read it since I was in my early teens.

Thanks, Debbie. Timothy White's book is another that fascinates me but once again is way beyond my budget.

Jay, that history aspect must make TNFP unique. I understand no other BB book goes into it in such depth.

Maybe my local university library has, or can get hold of, one or both of these. Smokin
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2019, 02:42:18 AM »

David is busy being a UCLA professor these days, but he could also be writing. I guess we'll know if he announces some future projects. Another amazing (and famous) writer who was a friend of David's was Timothy White. "The Nearest Faraway Place" took a fascinating approach as well.
"The Nearest Faraway Place was the first Beach Boys book I ever got, back in the mid 1990's. The extensive history of the family lineage is a bit much for my taste, but then again I haven't really read it since I was in my early teens.

Thanks, Debbie. Timothy White's book is another that fascinates me but once again is way beyond my budget.

Jay, that history aspect must make TNFP unique. I understand no other BB book goes into it in such depth.

Maybe my local university library has, or can get hold of, one or both of these. Smokin
Indeed, it is unique. But I just couldn't shake the "this is to much for a book about a band", you know? Whenever you think "this is to much" about something(a book, album, etc) it doesn't bode well. But like I said, I was younger when I first attempted to get through it, so my views may very well change if I dig it out again.
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2019, 06:41:29 AM »

I found the family lineage very informative. Reading about Murry's dad, Buddy. Also one of Buddy's brothers (I think, it's been a while since reading the book) reminded me a lot of Brian - a lot of promise, but something emotionally /mentally happened. And reading that the closest relationship Brian had to relatives was to his maternal Grandfather. He could confide in him. Unfortunately he died while still in his fifties or early sixties.
As a lover of history I was fascinated and shocked by the conditions the Wilson family had to live in at Carmel by the Sea. What was Buddy thinking?!
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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2019, 07:32:59 AM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

I sometimes run across a book by David Leaf just called The Beach Boys (e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Beach-Boys-by-David-Leaf-1985-HC-DJ-Pages-208-Great-Condition/143246494207?epid=4474660&hash=item215a2809ff:g:MV8AAOSwO2pcjrjP). I'm assuming this is not the one in question. Just curious what it was.

I wish I knew more about this. I wasn't aware of it. Need to do a little research.  Maybe it's just someone selling a used copy of the 2nd edition? It's close to the same cover of have of that edition.
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« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2019, 07:42:03 AM »

I found the family lineage very informative. Reading about Murry's dad, Buddy. Also one of Buddy's brothers (I think, it's been a while since reading the book) reminded me a lot of Brian - a lot of promise, but something emotionally /mentally happened. And reading that the closest relationship Brian had to relatives was to his maternal Grandfather. He could confide in him. Unfortunately he died while still in his fifties or early sixties.
As a lover of history I was fascinated and shocked by the conditions the Wilson family had to live in at Carmel by the Sea. What was Buddy thinking?!

Tim White went to great lengths to find a new, broader context. The way that the BBs are woven into to the American experience is fascinating.
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« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2019, 08:07:38 AM »

I'll add my two cents and my recommendation for the Timothy White book, The Nearest Faraway Place. Definitely seek this one out.

What White did was place the history of the band *in context* with the other histories which intertwined in and out of the band's own journey through generations, times, and places. It was far more than a family tree...In fact as mentioned, this was one of the first if not the first books to go into the family trees of the Wilsons, the Loves, etc. But White took it beyond that.

In discussing, let's say the song "409", White had already branched off and traced the history of Chevrolet and Ford, and how Ford's V-8 engine and Model A car became key elements of the hot-rod scene to follow in the 50's and 60's. White got into the Chevy Corvette, and the move toward high-power race inspired engines. And he got into how the hot rodders came about, devoting time to key players like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, etc. Then it wrapped up with how Gary Usher came to own and drive a Chevy which he was hot-rodding piece-by-piece as many in the scene had to do as they earned more spare change to buy new parts...and Usher's hot rod Chevy was the car they revved up and recorded on the street with Brian's tape deck, which became the intro to "409", and how the ideas for that song started to flow as Brian and Gary were driving around car parts stores looking for things Gary wanted to add to his Chevy. "Giddy up...".

So that's just one example of how Timothy White wove so many elements and backstories and related histories into telling the story of the Beach Boys.

Too much of history - especially as taught in the schools but I won't jump on that soapbox - is now relegated to a system of rote memorization and programmed regurgitation of dates and names. Where is the context? What came before and after? *Why* did this event happen and what led directly to it happening? The dates and names have been recorded already...at some point the importance of memorizing and repeating those wears out its value...and you need to explore *why* beyond those names and numbers.

White did a masterful job at doing just that, and as this element of connecting the histories instead of spitting out data that had appeared elsewhere, it's a terrific read. I actually wish he had expanded more on the intertwining details and cut some of the band's data which had been reported and published elsewhere, or expanded the book in general, but what we got is top-notch writing and historical research.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this book demonstrates that notion very well.



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« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2019, 08:44:24 AM »

The Leaf book informed my early fandom on its reissue in 1985.  Agree with Debbie that it remains the major influencer of all of the major books that followed.

Unfortunately it costs a pretty penny these days, especially for someone just starting down the BB road.

Wasn't there talk of a revised edition at some point?

I sometimes run across a book by David Leaf just called The Beach Boys (e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Beach-Boys-by-David-Leaf-1985-HC-DJ-Pages-208-Great-Condition/143246494207?epid=4474660&hash=item215a2809ff:g:MV8AAOSwO2pcjrjP). I'm assuming this is not the one in question. Just curious what it was.

That is the second edition of same book, with a further short addendum to the story included. The revised edition if you will...

Thanks for the clarification. You see the first edition go for big bucks, but this edition seems more moderately priced.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 11:32:19 AM by Gettin Hungry » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2019, 09:20:37 AM »

Oh yes, the "car culture." That's something I've never been into but White gave a great analysis of that whole scene.
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2019, 01:30:00 PM »

I'll add my two cents and my recommendation for the Timothy White book, The Nearest Faraway Place. Definitely seek this one out.

What White did was place the history of the band *in context* with the other histories which intertwined in and out of the band's own journey through generations, times, and places. It was far more than a family tree...In fact as mentioned, this was one of the first if not the first books to go into the family trees of the Wilsons, the Loves, etc. But White took it beyond that.

In discussing, let's say the song "409", White had already branched off and traced the history of Chevrolet and Ford, and how Ford's V-8 engine and Model A car became key elements of the hot-rod scene to follow in the 50's and 60's. White got into the Chevy Corvette, and the move toward high-power race inspired engines. And he got into how the hot rodders came about, devoting time to key players like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, etc. Then it wrapped up with how Gary Usher came to own and drive a Chevy which he was hot-rodding piece-by-piece as many in the scene had to do as they earned more spare change to buy new parts...and Usher's hot rod Chevy was the car they revved up and recorded on the street with Brian's tape deck, which became the intro to "409", and how the ideas for that song started to flow as Brian and Gary were driving around car parts stores looking for things Gary wanted to add to his Chevy. "Giddy up...".

So that's just one example of how Timothy White wove so many elements and backstories and related histories into telling the story of the Beach Boys.

Too much of history - especially as taught in the schools but I won't jump on that soapbox - is now relegated to a system of rote memorization and programmed regurgitation of dates and names. Where is the context? What came before and after? *Why* did this event happen and what led directly to it happening? The dates and names have been recorded already...at some point the importance of memorizing and repeating those wears out its value...and you need to explore *why* beyond those names and numbers.

White did a masterful job at doing just that, and as this element of connecting the histories instead of spitting out data that had appeared elsewhere, it's a terrific read. I actually wish he had expanded more on the intertwining details and cut some of the band's data which had been reported and published elsewhere, or expanded the book in general, but what we got is top-notch writing and historical research.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this book demonstrates that notion very well.




Craig, as usual I count on you to elucidate the thoughts I throw out there. You did it again.
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2019, 01:45:07 PM »

I'll add my two cents and my recommendation for the Timothy White book, The Nearest Faraway Place. Definitely seek this one out.

What White did was place the history of the band *in context* with the other histories which intertwined in and out of the band's own journey through generations, times, and places. It was far more than a family tree...In fact as mentioned, this was one of the first if not the first books to go into the family trees of the Wilsons, the Loves, etc. But White took it beyond that.

In discussing, let's say the song "409", White had already branched off and traced the history of Chevrolet and Ford, and how Ford's V-8 engine and Model A car became key elements of the hot-rod scene to follow in the 50's and 60's. White got into the Chevy Corvette, and the move toward high-power race inspired engines. And he got into how the hot rodders came about, devoting time to key players like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, etc. Then it wrapped up with how Gary Usher came to own and drive a Chevy which he was hot-rodding piece-by-piece as many in the scene had to do as they earned more spare change to buy new parts...and Usher's hot rod Chevy was the car they revved up and recorded on the street with Brian's tape deck, which became the intro to "409", and how the ideas for that song started to flow as Brian and Gary were driving around car parts stores looking for things Gary wanted to add to his Chevy. "Giddy up...".

So that's just one example of how Timothy White wove so many elements and backstories and related histories into telling the story of the Beach Boys.

Too much of history - especially as taught in the schools but I won't jump on that soapbox - is now relegated to a system of rote memorization and programmed regurgitation of dates and names. Where is the context? What came before and after? *Why* did this event happen and what led directly to it happening? The dates and names have been recorded already...at some point the importance of memorizing and repeating those wears out its value...and you need to explore *why* beyond those names and numbers.

White did a masterful job at doing just that, and as this element of connecting the histories instead of spitting out data that had appeared elsewhere, it's a terrific read. I actually wish he had expanded more on the intertwining details and cut some of the band's data which had been reported and published elsewhere, or expanded the book in general, but what we got is top-notch writing and historical research.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this book demonstrates that notion very well.




It's been a long, long while since I read that book, and while I did find it a bit long-winded, I also super appreciated the detail and research that White did for it. The idea of contextualizing all that is really interesting, maybe a tad more interesting in theory than execution (sort of how I feel about Robert Altman films), but it's super cool that he made the effort to research and write that book as he did. Maybe if I re-read it, I'll appreciate it better.

I almost feel like White's book would make an interesting documentary film, Ken Burns style.
It is a very Burns-eque take on the BBs story and backstory. Reading that book sort of reminded me of watching Burns' Prohibition documentary or something like that.
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