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Author Topic: Brian's Songwriting In 1962-64  (Read 494 times)
Shane
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« on: July 04, 2019, 01:21:10 AM »

I was listening to my box of "Brian Wilson outside production" 45s tonight... Honeys, Survivors, Castells, Sharon Marie, etc.  When you take the outside productions, and add the unreleased songs and demos from this era, and add to that the Beach Boys albums from this period, it forms a large body of work that came forth in a very short period of time.  The sheer amount of work that was accomplished is really kind of ridiculous.  

As I listened tonight, I kept thinking about Brian's aspirations during this period.  Was he trying to be something more than "the guy in the Beach Boys who writes their stuff"?  Did he have ideas of becoming a songwriter for all sorts of artists?  The idea of Brian supposedly submitting "Malibu Beach" to Andy Williams in 1963 seems to lend some credence to the theory.  Or perhaps it was just a case that the guy was coming up with more songs than he knew what to do with, and it got to the point where he was just giving stuff away... especially the songs written that didn't fit the mold of Beach Boys music at the time.

All of this ground to a halt when Brian had a mental breakdown at the end of 1964.  The only "outside production" of any substance we see after that is the Glen Campbell "Guess I'm Dumb" single.  And that seems to have been a song intended for the Beach Boys, but it was left off the latest album and given to Glen, almost as an afterthought.  I'm wondering if it was Brian himself who decided to give up working for anyone else other than the Beach Boys during this time.  Or perhaps he received pressure from elsewhere to do so (band members, Murry, record company, all of the above?)  

Thoughts?

  

    
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 12:51:42 AM by Shane » Logged
rab2591
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2019, 07:09:58 AM »

Brian's biggest hero during that early-60s time period was Phil Spector. Brian was obsessed with the PS sound, and I think he was jealous/mystified/enamored with Spector's reputation, fame, talent as a producer. So Brian started emulating Phil's sound. Brian started using Phil's studios. Brian started using Phil's session players. It is only natural that Brian started to emulate Phil's producing of many groups as well.

I think some have speculated (and they may be correct) that Brian was using those smaller groups to help hone his sound in...that he didn't want to waste the time of The Beach Boys by experimenting with some sounds, so he used outside artists to try and perfect the sound. 'Guess I'm Dumb' comes to mind with this theory - there are splashes of Pet Sounds and SMiLE (the percussion at least, imo) found in that track, and Brian was testing the waters for something The Beach Boys could do. Idk, like I say, it's a theory and I'm sure the truth lies in many aspects that include this theory.

Brian did try to continue work outside of the Beach Boys post-1966 (Three Dog Night (Redwood at the time), American Spring, does Stephen Kalinich count?) - but the Redwood incident (Brian wrote 'Darlin' and I think some other stuff for them) is infamous for how some members of the band brought Brian to tears after telling him he couldn't work with other musicians outside of The Beach Boys...thus 'Darlin' became a Beach Boys single, and Redwood went on without Brian's help.

So Brian has always tried to creep outside of the mold, but was never very successful at it. Was the lack of success due to Brian being intimated by the likes of Murry or band members wanting to keep all that good material for themselves? Or was it because in reality Brian needed ALL of the Beach Boys to have a successful sound? I think it's a mixture of both.
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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.
Ian
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2019, 07:45:03 AM »

I have an unbooted interview with Brian from November 25 1964 in which he said that hed be concentrating on the BBs more and not working with outside artists as much in the future. He hinted that it bothered some members
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 09:18:23 AM »

Brian's biggest hero during that early-60s time period was Phil Spector. Brian was obsessed with the PS sound, and I think he was jealous/mystified/enamored with Spector's reputation, fame, talent as a producer. So Brian started emulating Phil's sound. Brian started using Phil's studios. Brian started using Phil's session players. It is only natural that Brian started to emulate Phil's producing of many groups as well.

I think some have speculated (and they may be correct) that Brian was using those smaller groups to help hone his sound in...that he didn't want to waste the time of The Beach Boys by experimenting with some sounds, so he used outside artists to try and perfect the sound. 'Guess I'm Dumb' comes to mind with this theory - there are splashes of Pet Sounds and SMiLE (the percussion at least, imo) found in that track, and Brian was testing the waters for something The Beach Boys could do. Idk, like I say, it's a theory and I'm sure the truth lies in many aspects that include this theory.

Brian did try to continue work outside of the Beach Boys post-1966 (Three Dog Night (Redwood at the time), American Spring, does Stephen Kalinich count?) - but the Redwood incident (Brian wrote 'Darlin' and I think some other stuff for them) is infamous for how some members of the band brought Brian to tears after telling him he couldn't work with other musicians outside of The Beach Boys...thus 'Darlin' became a Beach Boys single, and Redwood went on without Brian's help.

So Brian has always tried to creep outside of the mold, but was never very successful at it. Was the lack of success due to Brian being intimated by the likes of Murry or band members wanting to keep all that good material for themselves? Or was it because in reality Brian needed ALL of the Beach Boys to have a successful sound? I think it's a mixture of both.


Let's not forget the success he had with Surf City. Granted it was a BBs soundalike. But it proved Brian didn't "need" The BBs to have an outside hit.

I think Brian could have had more success with others, and it was really down to luck and marketing.

Sadly it was very dysfunctional (perhaps understandable, but still sick) for Brian's mates and his own dad to act petty out of  jealousy and feeling threatened by Brian doing outside productions, and Brian endured some really major mindf*ckery aimed at him.

He deserved better.

In a sense, it would also seem to me that most of Brian's outside productions were Brian experimenting, learning... and trying at maybe a level of 80%, but perhaps not trying REALLY hard specifically for a hit. And maybe that is because he was afraid of the potential backlash, which he already had a taste of from Murry when Surf City hit #1. Sometimes, like when Brian re-recorded Be True to Your School or Help Me Rhonda, he was throwing everything and the kitchen sink into doing his absolute darndest to make a hit record. I feel that with only a few exceptions, that much of Brian's outside productions don't quite feel like he was pushing himself quite that hard.

I feel if Brian - with the proper encouragement from those around him and also labels - had truly truly gone all out, he'd have cranked out another hit or two or three with outside artist(s). But Brian got pulled back into the family business like Pacino in The GodOnlyKnowsFather.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 09:29:46 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
rab2591
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2019, 09:54:38 AM »

Brian's biggest hero during that early-60s time period was Phil Spector. Brian was obsessed with the PS sound, and I think he was jealous/mystified/enamored with Spector's reputation, fame, talent as a producer. So Brian started emulating Phil's sound. Brian started using Phil's studios. Brian started using Phil's session players. It is only natural that Brian started to emulate Phil's producing of many groups as well.

I think some have speculated (and they may be correct) that Brian was using those smaller groups to help hone his sound in...that he didn't want to waste the time of The Beach Boys by experimenting with some sounds, so he used outside artists to try and perfect the sound. 'Guess I'm Dumb' comes to mind with this theory - there are splashes of Pet Sounds and SMiLE (the percussion at least, imo) found in that track, and Brian was testing the waters for something The Beach Boys could do. Idk, like I say, it's a theory and I'm sure the truth lies in many aspects that include this theory.

Brian did try to continue work outside of the Beach Boys post-1966 (Three Dog Night (Redwood at the time), American Spring, does Stephen Kalinich count?) - but the Redwood incident (Brian wrote 'Darlin' and I think some other stuff for them) is infamous for how some members of the band brought Brian to tears after telling him he couldn't work with other musicians outside of The Beach Boys...thus 'Darlin' became a Beach Boys single, and Redwood went on without Brian's help.

So Brian has always tried to creep outside of the mold, but was never very successful at it. Was the lack of success due to Brian being intimated by the likes of Murry or band members wanting to keep all that good material for themselves? Or was it because in reality Brian needed ALL of the Beach Boys to have a successful sound? I think it's a mixture of both.


Let's not forget the success he had with Surf City. Granted it was a BBs soundalike. But it proved Brian didn't "need" The BBs to have an outside hit.

I think Brian could have had more success with others, and it was really down to luck and marketing.

Sadly it was very dysfunctional (perhaps understandable, but still sick) for Brian's mates and his own dad to act petty out of  jealousy and feeling threatened by Brian doing outside productions, and Brian endured some really major mindf*ckery aimed at him.

He deserved better.

In a sense, it would also seem to me that most of Brian's outside productions were Brian experimenting, learning... and trying at maybe a level of 80%, but perhaps not trying REALLY hard specifically for a hit. And maybe that is because he was afraid of the potential backlash, which he already had a taste of from Murry when Surf City hit #1. Sometimes, like when Brian re-recorded Be True to Your School or Help Me Rhonda, he was throwing everything and the kitchen sink into doing his absolute darndest to make a hit record. I feel that with only a few exceptions, that much of Brian's outside productions don't quite feel like he was pushing himself quite that hard.

I feel if Brian - with the proper encouragement from those around him and also labels - had truly truly gone all out, he'd have cranked out another hit or two or three with outside artist(s). But Brian got pulled back into the family business like Pacino in The GodOnlyKnowsFather.

Agreed. I had actually written something about 'Surf City' in that post but then took it out (at the time I was under the impression that it was mostly a Jan and Dean song with some help from Brian on the chorus - when with 2 seconds of searching just now I see that Brian wrote the majority of the tune, so this is very applicable to Brian helping out other artists and getting chewed out for it). I wonder if Brian had any regrets (that he kept to himself) upon seeing the song hit #1?

He really did deserve better.
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Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

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 #5 on: July 04, 2019, 10:06:38 AM »

I have an unbooted interview with Brian from November 25 1964 in which he said that hed be concentrating on the BBs more and not working with outside artists as much in the future. He hinted that it bothered some members

Well, it definitely bothered Murry (though he was no longer their manager by that point, he was of course still their publisher and dad). And, you'll notice that Brian's outside productions pretty much ended at that point, as he began to view The Beatles as his chief competition, rather than Spector. I think THAT'S a major factor, too - once he quit the road, he threw everything he had into outdoing the Beatles, and probably didn't consider Spector to be as much of a "threat" ("River Deep, Mountain High" being a possible exception the following year) - even though Spector's production style continued to influence him.
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Shane
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2019, 12:06:58 AM »

Thanks for all the insight.  And Ian, thanks for the reference to the Brian interview... yet another kernel of information I hadn't previously known!
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