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Author Topic: Was The Cabin Essence Sessions Argument Caught On Tape?  (Read 1522 times)
saborlord123
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« on: March 16, 2020, 09:32:47 AM »

The arguement between Van Dyke and Mike om December 6, 1966 has cited as the beginning of the end for SMiLE (besides fire session). Was this argument between them caught on tape or recorded?
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2020, 05:09:24 PM »

No, nothing like that is on tape. 
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2020, 03:22:38 AM »

I guess any discussions would've occured during rehearsal or when Brian played the guys the songs and not necessarily during the sessions themselves.
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2020, 08:10:09 AM »

If it happened at all to begin with. I tend to think that many of the stories of group tension over songs or lyrics have been blown out of proportion to the point that they've taken on urban legend status.
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2020, 09:07:10 AM »

If it happened at all to begin with. I tend to think that many of the stories of group tension over songs or lyrics have been blown out of proportion to the point that they've taken on urban legend status.

There's no doubt that Mike made his feelings and oh-so-intelligent-and-forward-thinking brilliant thoughts known to Brian and Van, whether directly or indirectly.

Van himself said in the Beautiful Dreamer doc that he (Van) was well aware of the incredibly awkward and toxic relationship that was developing in the band (mainly driven by Mike) due to Van's presence, compounded by the band having the dysfunctional family dynamic, too. Brian needed was some legit support from his cousin, but instead got jealousy from an immature simpleton.

The same immature simpleton who would one day think it was good for the legacy of the band by playing a trophy-hunting show under the band name, and standing idly by in tacit approval by while his cousin gets publicly bullied and humiliated by the president's son. Yeah, Mike's that same guy with the same small-minded mindset.

Whether or not there was 1 big "blowout" fight/argument or not is not super important; much like the eternal question "did Mike ever actually say the words 'don't f*ck with the formula'?", it seems near certain that this general attitude was conveyed through any number of means of communication. It doesn't always take specific words to say something very strongly, and sensitive people like Brian can pick up on stuff - and have their creative juices and drive diminished- by the longterm effects of the people around them being sour, bitter, and bullying, even if only in a passive aggressive way.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 04:39:51 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2020, 09:19:05 AM »

Even Mike admits he questioned those lyrics...*why are we trying to rewrite history* from saying "It wasn't recorded" to "It never happened"? Some tried to do the same thing with the Redwood incident at Heider's studio, and they failed.

Oh, and a crew from CBS was there filming a Cabinessence vocal session for David Oppenheim when something less than positive *did* happen, and while I doubt it was Mike confronting Van Dyke Parks and instead more of a group issue, it was something beyond a normal session where everyone was laughing and giddy.

Why not post a question to Van Dyke himself, and if he confirms it happened, you can choose to believe what he says or not. When you have a majority of people who were actually there and witnessed these confrontations and conflicts over lyrics and other issues surrounding Smile reporting basically the same things across the board...I guess Mike stands alone as a beacon of truth to "set the record straight" and everyone else who was there has been lying since 1967 as part of a conspiracy to screw Mike yet again?

Please...
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2020, 10:50:47 AM »

If it happened at all to begin with. I tend to think that many of the stories of group tension over songs or lyrics have been blown out of proportion to the point that they've taken on urban legend status.


Confirmed by pretty much everyone including Mike. Now, I do think it’s not 100% according to legend as far as the way it went down. I  think Parks took most of the sh*t at first, and he probably bitched to Brian about it. Then it ended up becoming directly between Brian and the band. Probably felt attacked by the BB and Parks both.

A lot of things we took as accepted truth over the years isn’t 100% accurate the way it really went down. Some of the earlier books are to blame, along with certain people spreading half truths and intentionally inaccurate information. The one thing that gets me is Brian not putting his foot down like he did in the past. So, yeah, something did go down without question.

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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2020, 11:15:15 AM »

over and over
the crow cries uncover
the cornfield

"they're not important.....throw them out!"
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2020, 11:18:09 AM »

It happened, no question about that. I think if there's any historical debate to be had it's over how much Mike's crow problem actually impacted the project. Some not-unimportant context hardly ever gets a mention: If the December 6 vocal session was the day Van Dyke got called up to the studio (as is often speculated - none of the known earlier dates fit), then Mike had already recorded those lyrics two months prior on October 11 (confirmed via rough mixes), and Van Dyke was back in the studio with Brian little over a week later on December 15 during the Inside Pop film shoot.

Van Dyke had begun to distance himself from Brian personally independent of any of these factors throughout November, and their working relationship in the studio carried on until March. Brian's growing concerns about the words being 'inappropriate' getting some validation seems to be the biggest takeaway from the confrontation rather than it being some decisive moment where Van Dyke was pushed away from the project and they couldn't get it finished. A look into the timeline proves the actual collapse was much, much more gradual and complicated than the common retelling of the Cabin Essence argument would suggest.
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2020, 11:59:54 AM »

A look into the timeline proves the actual collapse was much, much more gradual and complicated than the common retelling of the Cabin Essence argument would suggest.

Agree with this... the "argument" - which wasn't really an argument, as that word would be commonly understood - remains symbolically important, which is why it is frequently mentioned.  That is, by itself, it's just one of many many things going on over a period of years; but in context, especially at that particular moment in time, it is significant.

If there was an antagonistic conversation between Mike and Van Dyke (yes, there was), it was really between Brian and the entire family organization, with Van Dyke as Brian's proxy and Mike as the natural spokesman for the family, from both a business and psychological standpoint.  The Beach Boys at this time was either (1) a leaderless band that was led, implicitly, and invisibly, by the distinct, unruly entity called "The Wilson Family" (including the Loves); or (2) a band co-led by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, with the passive Brian leading on the side of the music and the art and the creativity and the concept, and the aggressive, outwardly egocentric Mike leading on the side of the financial bottom line, and attempting to ensure that the "Beach Boys" business entity (i) stays together and (ii) doesn't ever change from what it scored with in earlier years  (but even this is a simplification)

Nobody really, had a problem with Van Dyke personally so much as they had a problem with Brian - who he was, what he had been doing, what he was doing, how he behaved, his personality - but Brian had placed Van Dyke in the role of "buffer" which of course could never work for Brian. He had finally painted himself into a corner with Smile; in my opinion, and in hindsight, the only way out for him was to leave the Beach Boys, which would not have been without a whole other set of negative consequences.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2020, 08:14:06 PM »

One thing to keep in mind is that the group bickering (over songs, over lyrics, over everything) was actually par for the course for them, and the whole VDP angle is kind of a red herring due to its proximity to the legendary, mythical magnum opus called Smile.  But as for bickering over songs and lyrics, they were doing that before they were even a group.  Hell, there are tapes of them in the fall of 1961 arguing about who contributed what lyrics to SURFIN.

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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2020, 08:36:56 PM »

And there’s a precedent for the Cabinessence lyrical discussion in what happened with Hang Onto Your Ego.  Mike was singing his part and volunteering to sing Al’s part, yet still expressed his displeasure with the lyrics - and Brian changed them.  Similarly after singing the lyrics to Cabinessence Mike at a later vocal session for the song brought up the crow cries lyrics, only this time Brian didn’t give in but instead - in a not atypical passive aggressive move - called in Van to explain the lyrics, putting Van in an impossible spot and pissing him off and leaving the question unsettled.  Not surprising that Brian turned to trying to complete the single H&V and stopped any significant work on the album after this (and the Inside Pop session that “went badly” with vocals for Wonderful, Cabinessence and Surfs Up attempted).

I think Brian mayhave wanted to finish Heroes and release it and if it was a hit use this as validation for the rest of Smile and to forge ahead and complete it regardless of Mike’s or anyone’s misgivings.  Unfortunately things didn’t exactly work out that way.
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2020, 12:52:09 PM »

That was right around when GV hit #1, too.
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2020, 09:57:14 AM »

And there’s a precedent for the Cabinessence lyrical discussion in what happened with Hang Onto Your Ego. 
Right - precedent, or a harbinger of things to come... at that point, during Pet Sounds, there was nothing Mike or the Beach Boys could do about it except complain; Brian was holding all the cards, and was leveraging all the power that he implicitly always had, since he was the sole source of Beach Boys music.  Both Mike's objection to "Hang On To Your Ego" (which was voiced on his personal behalf as well as that of the risk-averse Beach Boys  organization, whether anybody could recognize it at the time) and Brian's response to that objection (compromise) are foreshadowing what's going to happen... unless, that is, Brian can score smash hits with his new music.  Brian was then in a place where, if he wanted to do what he wanted to do - and still remain a "Beach Boy" - he would have to complete the work, and then it would have to be overwhelmingly successful in the marketplace. Without both of those things occurring, he would not be able to change the Beach Boy concept the way he wished he could.

One thing to keep in mind is that the group bickering (over songs, over lyrics, over everything) was actually par for the course for them, and the whole VDP angle is kind of a red herring due to its proximity to the legendary, mythical magnum opus called Smile.  But as for bickering over songs and lyrics, they were doing that before they were even a group.  Hell, there are tapes of them in the fall of 1961 arguing about who contributed what lyrics to SURFIN.

It's a red herring only if Mike's Smile-lyrics objection can be classified as mere  "bickering" (petty arguments over minor matters).  But this was a serious matter that was being disputed during Smile; it was about more than just lyrics, even if lyrics were the only matter that Mike objected to on the surface.  It was - again, in hindsight - about the continued existence of the Beach Boys.  In my opinion, Brian was, in effect, through his actions, breaking up the Beach Boys during the Pet Sounds and Smile-era.  Thus, Mike (again, whether he then knew it or not) is objecting because, at root, his livelihood is at stake - Mike has no instrumental role in the group, he is no longer involved in any way in songwriting, he is no longer a lead singer of any value, and Brian is writing music with "outsiders" that cannot be performed on tour.  And it's not just Mike, its all of them at this point who are on shaky ground. 

Brian's fumble on Smile was a "tragedy" for Brian only, not for the Beach Boys; it wasn't their music, it was Brian's solo music that carried with it the potential for the Beach Boys' demise. As Michael Vosse says in the Smile documentary of 2004-05, it's drugs that's the the true red herring. "Drugs" - and the continued focus on Brian's use of drugs in the 1960s (that is, LSD - not the hard stuff he was into in later years) is what has created a smoke-and-mirrors effect. Because "drugs" were going on at this time, the Beach Boys can say that "drugs" were a threat to their group, when it was really Brian himself, creating the best music of his career and working at the height of his potential, that was the real threat.
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2020, 10:50:15 AM »

And there’s a precedent for the Cabinessence lyrical discussion in what happened with Hang Onto Your Ego.  
Right - precedent, or a harbinger of things to come... at that point, during Pet Sounds, there was nothing Mike or the Beach Boys could do about it except complain; Brian was holding all the cards, and was leveraging all the power that he implicitly always had, since he was the sole source of Beach Boys music.  Both Mike's objection to "Hang On To Your Ego" (which was voiced on his personal behalf as well as that of the risk-averse Beach Boys  organization, whether anybody could recognize it at the time) and Brian's response to that objection (compromise) are foreshadowing what's going to happen... unless, that is, Brian can score smash hits with his new music.  Brian was then in a place where, if he wanted to do what he wanted to do - and still remain a "Beach Boy" - he would have to complete the work, and then it would have to be overwhelmingly successful in the marketplace. Without both of those things occurring, he would not be able to change the Beach Boy concept the way he wished he could.

One thing to keep in mind is that the group bickering (over songs, over lyrics, over everything) was actually par for the course for them, and the whole VDP angle is kind of a red herring due to its proximity to the legendary, mythical magnum opus called Smile.  But as for bickering over songs and lyrics, they were doing that before they were even a group.  Hell, there are tapes of them in the fall of 1961 arguing about who contributed what lyrics to SURFIN.

It's a red herring only if Mike's Smile-lyrics objection can be classified as mere  "bickering" (petty arguments over minor matters).  But this was a serious matter that was being disputed during Smile; it was about more than just lyrics, even if lyrics were the only matter that Mike objected to on the surface.  It was - again, in hindsight - about the continued existence of the Beach Boys.  In my opinion, Brian was, in effect, through his actions, breaking up the Beach Boys during the Pet Sounds and Smile-era.  Thus, Mike (again, whether he then knew it or not) is objecting because, at root, his livelihood is at stake - Mike has no instrumental role in the group, he is no longer involved in any way in songwriting, he is no longer a lead singer of any value, and Brian is writing music with "outsiders" that cannot be performed on tour.  And it's not just Mike, its all of them at this point who are on shaky ground.  

Brian's fumble on Smile was a "tragedy" for Brian only, not for the Beach Boys; it wasn't their music, it was Brian's solo music that carried with it the potential for the Beach Boys' demise. As Michael Vosse says in the Smile documentary of 2004-05, it's drugs that's the the true red herring. "Drugs" - and the continued focus on Brian's use of drugs in the 1960s (that is, LSD - not the hard stuff he was into in later years) is what has created a smoke-and-mirrors effect. Because "drugs" were going on at this time, the Beach Boys can say that "drugs" were a threat to their group, when it was really Brian himself, creating the best music of his career and working at the height of his potential, that was the real threat.


That's an interesting way to look at it, and I'm not saying I totally disagree, but at the same time, I feel that if Mike and the rest of the band had been more supportive - which could have included offering to be Brian's worker bees (similar to what Darian did years later, but obviously in a more analog, limited-to-1966-technology type of way) in terms of cataloging tapes, other time-consuming gruntwork and such, Brian could have finished SMiLE. It would have taken a village, but Brian had a village in terms of a group of young, capable humans. They may not have been super tech-savvy, but they could have learned, and collectively helped ease the burden that Brian felt.

I'm talking about this completely separately from their contributions to singing. I'm saying they could have helped him organize, and given him pep talks. I think Brian thrived on those around him being supportive and BELIEVING IN HIM.

Of course, this would have required Brian's mates to be *totally* selfless and to completely be cool (not passive-aggressively sorta kinda cool, but actually cool) with Brian being the unquestioned boss, and with VDP being Brian's collaborator at the time. Maybe this is a totally pie-in-the-sky scenario, but in my opinion it was feasible. Darian did it (yes he had 2004 technology, I'm aware), but it just also shows that someone like Darian came to the project with a kind of reverence for Brian being the boss... in 2004 there was no sour attitude on behalf of Darian and others helping BWPS get finished, there was no repeated doubts in the project that were projected Brian's way. Brian did not have that luxury in 1966 because he didn't have the same level of support that he could have had, even with the technological limitations of the time.

And if this scenario had played out and SMiLE had been completed, this might have been the death of the "old" version and dynamic of the band, but Brian could have kept making albums with his bandmates being just singers, who collaborated and offered their two cents when Brian asked for it, with Mike offering his (sometimes good) ideas but not being pushy or guilt-trippy about them. I think if Mike had somehow had his ego and personality altered, that Brian would have thrived more.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mike.

I fail to think it's impossible to have had a better outcome in 1966 than the outcome that actually happened. I suppose Brian's mates would have just needed someone from the future with some foresight and maturity to time travel back and have a heart-to-heart group meeting with them.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 10:54:33 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2020, 10:56:37 AM »

The narrative that Brian was too stoned to finish Smile was to a large extent created by Brian himself who said stuff like the following to interviewers:

“That Dumb Angel, we never finished it, because a lot of that sh*t bothered me-but half of the sh*t we didn’t finish anyway. Van Dyke Parks did a lot of it; we used a lot of fuzz tone. It was inspiring ‘cause Van Dyke is a very creative person, and it was a boost to me because he had a lot of energy and a lot of fresh ideas, so that energy has helped me. But a lot of the stuff was what I call little ‘segments’ of songs, and it was a period when I was getting stoned and so we never really got an album; we never finished anything! Why? Because we got off on bags that just fucking didn’t have any value for vocals! A lot of tracks just weren’t made for vocals, so the group couldn’t do it! We really got stoned! We were too fucking high, you know, to complete the stuff! We were stoned! You know, stoned on hash ‘n’ sh*t!”  (1994).

Is there some kernel of truth to that?  Let's be honest, paranoia is a well-known side effect of THC overconsumption and it's fairly well documented that the man was experiencing some level of paranoia during that period (e.g., thinking he caused a fire with music, mind gangsters, thinking someone's girlfriend was a witch using ESP on him).

At the same time, Vosse was basically right.  It is a red herring. Listening to the session tapes not only for Smile but also for his later work in '67 (Wild Honey, the Redwood tracks, etc,),  it's pretty obvious that the man was NOT someone "too stoned" to write, produce and finish great songs.  You can hear him doing it.

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« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2020, 11:13:40 AM »

The narrative that Brian was too stoned to finish Smile was to a large extent created by Brian himself who said stuff like the following to interviewers:

“That Dumb Angel, we never finished it, because a lot of that sh*t bothered me-but half of the sh*t we didn’t finish anyway. Van Dyke Parks did a lot of it; we used a lot of fuzz tone. It was inspiring ‘cause Van Dyke is a very creative person, and it was a boost to me because he had a lot of energy and a lot of fresh ideas, so that energy has helped me. But a lot of the stuff was what I call little ‘segments’ of songs, and it was a period when I was getting stoned and so we never really got an album; we never finished anything! Why? Because we got off on bags that just fucking didn’t have any value for vocals! A lot of tracks just weren’t made for vocals, so the group couldn’t do it! We really got stoned! We were too fucking high, you know, to complete the stuff! We were stoned! You know, stoned on hash ‘n’ sh*t!”  (1994).

Is there some kernel of truth to that?  Let's be honest, paranoia is a well-known side effect of THC overconsumption and it's fairly well documented that the man was experiencing some level of paranoia during that period (e.g., thinking he caused a fire with music, mind gangsters, thinking someone's girlfriend was a witch using ESP on him).

At the same time, Vosse was basically right.  It is a red herring. Listening to the session tapes not only for Smile but also for his later work in '67 (Wild Honey, the Redwood tracks, etc,),  it's pretty obvious that the man was NOT someone "too stoned" to write, produce and finish great songs.  You can hear him doing it.



Drugs were certainly an issue, but why does nobody - especially including Mike - ever consider that Brian was likely SELF-MEDICATING in part due to the immense frustration he had in dealing with Mike and the others being less than supportive? (Brian would never have been fully honest about that in an interview, nor would he admit to self-medicating due to Murry's abuse). For example, a cocky Mike subtly laughing at Van's lyrics and demanding explanations - at a time when Brian was feeling the pinch on numerous different levels - was absolute the last thing Brian needed at the time. If I'd been in Brian's situation, I'd also probably have overindulged as a result!

I guess it's a chicken-and-the-egg situation, but there's no doubt in my mind that Brian's stress level increased and his level of self-confidence was being put to the test by dealing with people who could have been much more supportive, but weren't.  Obviously the record label being dicks and the technology limitations were factors in Brian's stress too.

And just because the band may have sung some lovely vocals, that in and of itself doesn't equate to Brian receiving the full level of support he needed. I'm really sick of hearing the argument that just because the band sung some parts, that must have magically meant that they were being supportive and doing their job and doing all they needed to do.

They did *some* of what they needed to do. That was only part of the equation. I don't entirely blame them either. They were young, Carl was even still a teenager for part of the sessions. But I tend to think Mike lead the charge more than the others, and that his motives were based on short-sighted fear and jealousy, and probably affected Brian negatively more than is calculable.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 11:24:04 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2020, 12:57:13 PM »

The narrative that Brian was too stoned to finish Smile was to a large extent created by Brian himself who said stuff like the following to interviewers:

“That Dumb Angel, we never finished it, because a lot of that sh*t bothered me-but half of the sh*t we didn’t finish anyway. Van Dyke Parks did a lot of it; we used a lot of fuzz tone. It was inspiring ‘cause Van Dyke is a very creative person, and it was a boost to me because he had a lot of energy and a lot of fresh ideas, so that energy has helped me. But a lot of the stuff was what I call little ‘segments’ of songs, and it was a period when I was getting stoned and so we never really got an album; we never finished anything! Why? Because we got off on bags that just fucking didn’t have any value for vocals! A lot of tracks just weren’t made for vocals, so the group couldn’t do it! We really got stoned! We were too fucking high, you know, to complete the stuff! We were stoned! You know, stoned on hash ‘n’ sh*t!”  (1994).

Is there some kernel of truth to that?  Let's be honest, paranoia is a well-known side effect of THC overconsumption and it's fairly well documented that the man was experiencing some level of paranoia during that period (e.g., thinking he caused a fire with music, mind gangsters, thinking someone's girlfriend was a witch using ESP on him).


There's little doubt that he was psychologically unstable at this time - and that was one of the constraints on his ability to complete Smile.  As far as the quote from Brian basically denigrating Smile (there had been many such comments from him over the years, all of which pre-date the decision to resurrect Smile and complete it) it shouldn't be taken seriously. Part of it is probably true ("stoned") but in comments like this he is either obfuscating because he doesn't want to get into it, or he is in denial, and/or he himself is confused about what happened.  In any case, one of the things he is saying in that quote is, basically, that he was writing music that was not appropriate for the group ("...tracks just weren't made for vocals, so the group couldn't do it.").

Drugs were certainly an issue, but why does nobody - especially including Mike - ever consider that Brian was likely SELF-MEDICATING in part due to the immense frustration he had in dealing with Mike and the others being less than supportive? (Brian would never have been fully honest about that in an interview, nor would he admit to self-medicating due to Murry's abuse).

Just an opinion, but with Brian, "self-medication" doesn't come into it until the later, more destructive drug-era of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.  And you are right, though, in that the era of "self-medication" derives from the sadistic, abusive regime Brian was raised under - "mental illness" symptoms such as Brian's are known to often coexist, or be "comorbid" with, drug abuse, and the case could be (and has been) made that traumatic experiences explain the comorbidity.  This is easier to see in the cases of war veterans, but not as widely accepted with abused children like Brian and Dennis Wilson. 

I don't think - again just an opinion - that Brian was "self-medicating" with LSD during the Pet Sounds and Smile-era, but his decision to go in that direction, and his negative reaction to the psychedelics can still be framed in terms of his personal background and life experiences.


For example, a cocky Mike subtly laughing at Van's lyrics and demanding explanations - at a time when Brian was feeling the pinch on numerous different levels - was absolute the last thing Brian needed at the time.


The point is that there is a sharp distinction between "what Brian needs" and what "the Beach Boys need." In the earliest days of the group, those two things were arguably very similar, but they become different things as of the "nervous breakdown" in Dec. 1964, and by the time of Smile, those two things are in direct opposition to each other. 

It's too much to expect the Beach Boys - and especially someone like Mike Love -  to basically prostrate themselves before Brian's genius back in 1966. Brian was not the sole leader of the group, the group did not "belong" to him, as much as it might seem to in hindsight.  To put faith in Brian like that, at that time, when he was behaving strangely (from their subjective, Wilson Family p.o.v.) and, as I said, potentially writing the group out of existence, would have required an unusually high level of trust, and trust among the members is one thing this band didn't have.

You can actually diagram what went wrong for Brian and the Beach Boys - see what they lacked, and how the circumstances could not allow for Smile - by looking at how Pete Townshend and the Who suceeded with Tommy in 1969-70. For me, Tommy is very similar to Smile in many ways (mostly in terms of its underlying motivation) and Townshend is quite similar to Brian - he was coming from the same place as Brian when he did those longer works.  I won't go on about the points of comparison, but the point is that a whole bunch of pieces have to be in just the right place for a work like Smile, or Tommy to get completed in a band/group (as opposed to solo) situation.  None of the necessary pieces were in place for Brian with Smile. In fact, it could be true that Townshend's Smile really isn't Tommy but Lifehouse, during which time the pieces weren't so perfectly positioned for him, and which he couldn't finish, and whose incompletion has dogged him in one way or another his whole career.
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« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2020, 02:13:29 PM »

One of the things overlooked is his use of speed during this time period. One of the side effects of long term use is paranoia, and combination of that and LSD certainly didn’t help him. I think that may partially explain why he wasn’t able to stand up for himself as much as in the past
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« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2020, 02:18:20 PM »



Drugs were certainly an issue, but why does nobody - especially including Mike - ever consider that Brian was likely SELF-MEDICATING in part due to the immense frustration he had in dealing with Mike and the others being less than supportive? (Brian would never have been fully honest about that in an interview, nor would he admit to self-medicating due to Murry's abuse).

Just an opinion, but with Brian, "self-medication" doesn't come into it until the later, more destructive drug-era of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.  And you are right, though, in that the era of "self-medication" derives from the sadistic, abusive regime Brian was raised under - "mental illness" symptoms such as Brian's are known to often coexist, or be "comorbid" with, drug abuse, and the case could be (and has been) made that traumatic experiences explain the comorbidity.  This is easier to see in the cases of war veterans, but not as widely accepted with abused children like Brian and Dennis Wilson.  

I don't think - again just an opinion - that Brian was "self-medicating" with LSD during the Pet Sounds and Smile-era, but his decision to go in that direction, and his negative reaction to the psychedelics can still be framed in terms of his personal background and life experiences.



I think Brian - in the years that followed - definitely went way down the rabbit hole into self-medication in a very sad and clearly-defined sense, but I think that even the LSD/pot usage (Brian really didn't do *that* much LSD, right?) and other drugs he did in the SMiLE era was a product both of experimentation/mind expansion attempts that many people were doing during the era, and also trying to escape reality, which became more and more of a bummer for him, due to a lot factors, including his bandmates and especially including Mike being bitter/sour/passive aggressive/etc. about the direction Brian was taking, and Brian's unorthodox methods.



For example, a cocky Mike subtly laughing at Van's lyrics and demanding explanations - at a time when Brian was feeling the pinch on numerous different levels - was absolute the last thing Brian needed at the time.



The point is that there is a sharp distinction between "what Brian needs" and what "the Beach Boys need." In the earliest days of the group, those two things were arguably very similar, but they become different things as of the "nervous breakdown" in Dec. 1964, and by the time of Smile, those two things are in direct opposition to each other.  

It's too much to expect the Beach Boys - and especially someone like Mike Love -  to basically prostrate themselves before Brian's genius back in 1966. Brian was not the sole leader of the group, the group did not "belong" to him, as much as it might seem to in hindsight.  To put faith in Brian like that, at that time, when he was behaving strangely (from their subjective, Wilson Family p.o.v.) and, as I said, potentially writing the group out of existence, would have required an unusually high level of trust, and trust among the members is one thing this band didn't have.
 

I know, it would have taken a very different situation than the dysfunctional and dual family/band dynamic that existed at the time for Mike and the other guys to have supported Brian in the manner in wish I think would have made a positive difference. The Boys perhaps weren't emotionally equipped to do so, and didn't have a crystal ball, and hindsight is 20/20. But it's a damn shame. Because it was possible in terms of what a bandmate *could* do to help another bandmate in 1966 - it's not something literally impossible like asking Mike to lift a '56 Chevy above his head with his bare hands; jealousy and a lack of self-awareness/ lack of big picture stuff was, IMHO, absolutely part of the equation.  As most anyone who has ever been in a band can attest, even one member having a poopy attitude can truly infect/pollute the entire atmosphere, and create doubt and negativity in other members.

I imagine Brian trying to be creative and make progress on a project when he was surrounded by people with shaky confidence in him would have been an excruciating and defeating experience.

Darian proved that supporting Brian to finish the very tough puzzle that was SMiLE could be done - and while Darian did have a laptop at his disposal - the calm, reassuring demeanor that he clearly displayed on the Beautiful Dreamer doc surely would have gone MILES for Brian if his bandmates had a similar attitude in 1966. I refuse to think that lacking a laptop in 1966, it was an impossible task for Brian. Difficult, yes. Impossible? I don't buy it.
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« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2020, 05:47:00 PM »


I think Brian - in the years that followed - definitely went way down the rabbit hole into self-medication in a very sad and clearly-defined sense, but I think that even the LSD/pot usage (Brian really didn't do *that* much LSD, right?) and other drugs he did in the SMiLE era was a product both of experimentation/mind expansion attempts that many people were doing during the era, and also trying to escape reality, which became more and more of a bummer for him, due to a lot factors, including his bandmates and especially including Mike being bitter/sour/passive aggressive/etc. about the direction Brian was taking, and Brian's unorthodox methods.


Agree about escaping reality, though that leads you to an examination of what that "reality" consists of, and why Brian might want to escape from it.  The answer (at least partially) is in some of the music... You can start with "In My Room" - in which Brian being alone in a room, creating music is figuratively and literally a good place for him to be, under the circumstances (the circumstances of his childhood, basically)  This is a song of his early life. Jump ahead to 1965, and you have "I'm Bugged At My Ol' Man" in which Brian is now trapped in that room - boards up over the windows, etc., he wants to leave, and now he can't leave.  So as of this point, Brian is feeling penned in, trapped, and he feels like he can't get out. "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" is basically a serious, sophisticated take on "I'm Bugged" - at least in the sense that Brian is singing about being trapped, or being in a bind of some kind.  Anyway, in a situation like that - where you feel like you are trapped, or tied down somehow, one thing someone with Brian's personality might do is try to escape by going further inward, where they can't get you.  On some level, the LSD separated Brian from the Beach Boys even more than he already was both personally and musically. This yielded some benefit for Brian (because the LSD undeniably had a positive effect on his musical creativity), but it also gets to a place where they have no clue of what he is doing, or why he's doing it.  He himself likely made little effort to get any of the other Beach Boys to understand, although Brian did encourage Al Jardine to try LSD  - Al declined, of course, but that signifies Brian's effort to try to get at least one person in the group to "get it."


I know, it would have taken a very different situation than the dysfunctional and dual family/band dynamic that existed at the time for Mike and the other guys to have supported Brian in the manner in wish I think would have made a positive difference. The Boys perhaps weren't emotionally equipped to do so, and didn't have a crystal ball, and hindsight is 20/20. But it's a damn shame. Because it was possible in terms of what a bandmate *could* do to help another bandmate in 1966 - it's not something literally impossible like asking Mike to lift a '56 Chevy above his head with his bare hands; jealousy and a lack of self-awareness/ lack of big picture stuff was, IMHO, absolutely part of the equation.  As most anyone who has ever been in a band can attest, even one member having a poopy attitude can truly infect/pollute the entire atmosphere, and create doubt and negativity in other members.


You're presuming that the other, non-Brian, faction of the Beach Boys didn't have foresight - didn't have a "crystal ball"  They didn't, but the point is that they could have had enough foresight to sense (to "feel" it, if not "know" it) that this was not going in a good direction for the group/business called "Beach Boys".  If they had a crystal ball, maybe what it would say wouldn't be so rosy for the group.


I imagine Brian trying to be creative and make progress on a project when he was surrounded by people with shaky confidence in him would have been an excruciating and defeating experience.

Darian proved that supporting Brian to finish the very tough puzzle that was SMiLE could be done - and while Darian did have a laptop at his disposal - the calm, reassuring demeanor that he clearly displayed on the Beautiful Dreamer doc surely would have gone MILES for Brian if his bandmates had a similar attitude in 1966. I refuse to think that lacking a laptop in 1966, it was an impossible task for Brian. Difficult, yes. Impossible? I don't buy it.

The situation surrounding the completed Smile does illustrate the kind of support that was needed, and what the situation would have had to look like back in the 1960s.  First, it can't be a Beach Boys project.  Also Van Dyke Parks is involved; Brian wouldn't have needed a Darian in '66-67, but he needed him in the 2000s.  There is emotional support from Brian's wife (not to slight Brian's first wife, who was just a girl in the 1960s), David Leaf is helping in some way and you have basically a Wrecking Crew-like array of musicians who respect the music, and also can tour this music.  It's hard to imagine all that existing for Brian in the mid-1960s.

Nobody really knows what goes in in Brian's head or his psyche, but what it looks like, in the end, is that he protected Smile, and kept it safely hidden away, until the time was right and the pieces were sufficiently in place to get it done. 
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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2020, 09:56:56 AM »

Interesting material here, well-stated...but probably not moving the needle all that much in terms of what we know or can surmise. The thoughts below stem from a few days back, at an earlier stage in the thread when folks were still more focused on Mike's behavior as opposed to the more "global" discussion that emerged from that point. There are some ideas or conjectures at a level of specificity that I do not recall seeing brought up previously, so please give them some consideration...

Mike sang the lyrics...it seems that he should've objected to them "on sight" and refused to sing them, right? Doesn't it seem that the underlying problem was more around the fact that the modular fragments of the tracks were simply not making sense to anyone other than Brian (and not always for him, either...), and that folks were getting freaked out by the uncertainty created by such a recording technique? The "formula" could mean "the song production process" as much as the "image" or the "level of adventurousness" in the material.

Mike had some misgivings about portions of PET SOUNDS but he's got three lead vocals ("That's Not Me," "I Know There's An Answer," "Here Today"). Was part of the problem that there just weren't enough places for Mike to be front and center on the SMiLE material? Was the last straw not simply the experimentation but the marginalization? The dynamic in the band kept changing once Carl became as significant a lead singer as either Brian or Mike; then, with FRIENDS, Dennis started a new phase that threatened to push Mike even further into the background. Much of this explains Mike's behavior in 1968-71, as he tries everything he can think of to maintain his initial level of visibility in the band.

If anything, SMiLE teetered when Brian had (or felt he had) to find a way to put Mike into it (Cantina section of "Heroes," for one--and those silly, abandoned inserts for "Wonderful," and all those extra sections in "Vegetables"). The more the original concept was dodged and tweaked, the more difficult it became and truly "the path was a mystery."
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« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2020, 10:42:24 AM »

Interesting material here, well-stated...but probably not moving the needle all that much in terms of what we know or can surmise. The thoughts below stem from a few days back, at an earlier stage in the thread when folks were still more focused on Mike's behavior as opposed to the more "global" discussion that emerged from that point. There are some ideas or conjectures at a level of specificity that I do not recall seeing brought up previously, so please give them some consideration...

Mike sang the lyrics...it seems that he should've objected to them "on sight" and refused to sing them, right? Doesn't it seem that the underlying problem was more around the fact that the modular fragments of the tracks were simply not making sense to anyone other than Brian (and not always for him, either...), and that folks were getting freaked out by the uncertainty created by such a recording technique? The "formula" could mean "the song production process" as much as the "image" or the "level of adventurousness" in the material.

Mike had some misgivings about portions of PET SOUNDS but he's got three lead vocals ("That's Not Me," "I Know There's An Answer," "Here Today"). Was part of the problem that there just weren't enough places for Mike to be front and center on the SMiLE material? Was the last straw not simply the experimentation but the marginalization? The dynamic in the band kept changing once Carl became as significant a lead singer as either Brian or Mike; then, with FRIENDS, Dennis started a new phase that threatened to push Mike even further into the background. Much of this explains Mike's behavior in 1968-71, as he tries everything he can think of to maintain his initial level of visibility in the band.

If anything, SMiLE teetered when Brian had (or felt he had) to find a way to put Mike into it (Cantina section of "Heroes," for one--and those silly, abandoned inserts for "Wonderful," and all those extra sections in "Vegetables"). The more the original concept was dodged and tweaked, the more difficult it became and truly "the path was a mystery."


The fact is, after a certain point - say 1965, I think that Brian didn't feel he needed Mike anymore as a creative partner. Mike always delivered solid vocals, but well I'm sure Brian would've been happy to continue using Mike occasionally in solely that capacity, without having to feel guilted into making promises of a certain level of Mike collaboration for the next project. That is some nonsense guilt trip garbage from Mike that Brian should never have had to deal with.

I think he didn't have the guts to tell Mike to take a hike with creative suggestions. Brian and Mike were growing apart completely from a creative standpoint.  I also completely understand Mike feeling marginalized, that is a human emotion. But frankly, I say tough cookies.  Artists evolve. Bands evolve. Family relationships evolve. Mike was owed proper credits on past songs, but Mike wasn't owed anything in terms of future collaboration promises. But IMO Mike knew that Brian was on some level a pushover when a certain amount of guilt and family pressure was applied. I'm not saying it was some evil, concerted attempt. I think this dysfunctional guilt trip stuff was just how the family dynamic evolved. Doesn't make it right though.

Honestly, I think Brian would've been thrilled if Mike had decided to quit the band circa 1966 in order to do some sort of other project. Which of course would never have happened, but if it happened, I don't in any way, shape or form see 1966 Brian being upset by that. It would've probably been a big relief to him.
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