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672450 Posts in 27078 Topics by 3981 Members - Latest Member: Toxic34 October 25, 2021, 01:08:48 AM
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Author Topic: Audree Wilson on Is It True What They Say About Dixie  (Read 1174 times)
CenturyDeprived
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« on: September 21, 2021, 02:46:52 PM »

Am I the only one who was (and remains) emotionally floored by this track from the '68-'69 "I Can Hear Music" sessions?  

From the very first time I heard it, and continuing until now whenever I play it, I get a bit emotional hearing how amazing Audree was at singing.

I'm just surprised it hasn't been talked about more on this board.

I mean, there's nothing in her voice that whatsoever indicates (to my ears, at least) that Audree was anything less than a completely professional level singer on this recording. Her voice was *that* good, and it's perhaps shocking that she hardly recorded anything other than a few backing vocals on some very early BW tunes, and this lovely gem. Maybe she was just a private person and didn't have the desire to put herself out there, the way Murry did for his lone so-so album. But she was SO good, dare I say too good, to have never done any proper professional recordings. Yet I'm sure she had her reasons. The stress of her family being in the spotlight and dealing with what they dealt with must have been unimaginable.

I think the thing that gets me emotional and brings a tear to my eye when hearing it, is that there is an unmistakable kindness and sweetness to her voice, which is evident to me just during the brief studio chatter of her talking. And it tells me that the incredible kindness the Wilson brothers all had/have must have come in no small part from her.

Anyway, everyone should give this a listen. I can only imagine the Wilson family's reaction when they first were made aware of the existence of this tape, I'm sure tears were shed when hearing it. It's remarkable, perhaps one of the most remarkable items in the ENTIRE catalog as far as I'm concerned.

For those who haven't heard it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLWS6T5Gax8

« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 02:48:14 PM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
juggler
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2021, 06:41:53 PM »

A couple comments...

I believe that some neighbors like Dave Marks have said that Audree could play almost anything by ear on the piano.

In his autobiography, Mike Love says that his mother (Murry's sister Glee) said that Audree was the most musically talented person she ever met.

Once-in-a-generation talent like that of Brian and his brothers doesn't just appear out of thin air.
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2021, 09:04:10 PM »

A couple comments...

I believe that some neighbors like Dave Marks have said that Audree could play almost anything by ear on the piano.

In his autobiography, Mike Love says that his mother (Murry's sister Glee) said that Audree was the most musically talented person she ever met.

Once-in-a-generation talent like that of Brian and his brothers doesn't just appear out of thin air.

Absolutely true.
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Loaf
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2021, 04:18:52 AM »

Maybe if Murry weren't a frustrated over-bearing monster then maybe we'd have some happier Wilsons and more of Audree on record.
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2021, 07:35:26 AM »

Owing to the fact it was probably more impromptu and unrehearsed than something destined to be pressed onto record, Audree's voice is a little pitchy and misses some notes...however, you can hear in  the delivery and the vibrato that she was indeed a singer with skills beyond the average hobbyist or person who would record a disc in a record booth to play for friends and family. Her tone and style too...very much a throwback to the 30's and 40's era of big-band singers, a style of singing that pretty much disappeared after the 60's.

This is much better than her appearances on the Hite Morgan recordings, but that's probably due to the material being more in her wheelhouse and comfort zone versus singing early 60's pop fluff.

It really does make us wonder what would have been if she had continued singing and had gone either semi-pro or even pro in some capacity, even if it were singing in the supper clubs or something similar.

Very cool piece of audio that flew under the radar. I really like her singing style, and maybe that's owing to the fact I like that nostalgic 30's/40's style of singing standards or standard type material. She did have skills.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2021, 07:53:13 AM »

Imagine if Brian wrote & produced an album for Audree instead of someone like Jasper Dailey.

Imagine if Murry wrote songs for Audree to sing instead of his instrumental album.

Missed opportunities!
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Tom
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2021, 10:00:37 PM »

It seems like Murry's musical influence on the Wilson trio has been overstated, and Audree's understated. Murry was definitely the one Brian was trying to impress, but as far as actual passing on of skill, Audree was clearly the better singer. It would make more sense to assume that Brian, Carl and Dennis learnt to sing by listening to her, not their dad.
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2021, 11:44:52 PM »

It seems like Murry's musical influence on the Wilson trio has been overstated, and Audree's understated. Murry was definitely the one Brian was trying to impress, but as far as actual passing on of skill, Audree was clearly the better singer. It would make more sense to assume that Brian, Carl and Dennis learnt to sing by listening to her, not their dad.

Spot on
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Wirestone
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2021, 06:16:15 AM »

It seems like Murry's musical influence on the Wilson trio has been overstated, and Audree's understated. Murry was definitely the one Brian was trying to impress, but as far as actual passing on of skill, Audree was clearly the better singer. It would make more sense to assume that Brian, Carl and Dennis learnt to sing by listening to her, not their dad.

Murry was the songwriter, though. That was arguably more important than anyone’s singing abilities.

Overall though, I love this topic. The women in the Wilson saga have often been overlooked (or vilified if they’re noticed at all). They clearly were and are essential.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 05:37:48 PM by Wirestone » Logged
JakeH
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2021, 08:15:17 AM »

Over decades of books, articles, interviews, etc., Brian has rarely, if ever, said that his mother was an influence on his singing, or that she otherwise taught him to sing.  Names that instead come up time and time again are Bob Flanigan of the Four Freshmen, and Rosemary Clooney, who, Brian says, "taught me to put feeling in my voice."  Based on what is known and what has been said in interviews, Audree's musical influence can be broken down into (1) a certain piano technique; and (2) genetic predisposition. With regard to the latter, it's definitely fair to attribute that innate musicality of the Wilson brothers to heredity, and more specifically, the Audree side more so than the Wilson/Murry side.  Still, genes can take you only so far; Brian worked very hard in his youth to develop his God-gifted potential.

A third thing that Audree, together with Murry, provided for Brian, was a positive attitude toward music in the home.  Both Murry and Audree liked (loved?) music, and therefore  they didn't stand in Brian's way when he began to express his interest in music.  They both respected his interests.  If a kid like Brian had parents who didn't care for music (or for some other reason didn't want music (especially pop music) in their son's life) and instead wanted him to be a lawyer, a professional athlete or a priest, then there could have been problems for that kid in finding a way to do the things he wanted to do.

Based on what is known, it is unlikely that Audree was that involved in Brian's musical development (e.g., the way Murry was with the conversion of the garage into the music room, the Wollensak, the Four Freshmen concert, the audition for Art Laboe). Long story short, this is because Audree was simply not much of an active presence in Brian's life - there appears not to have been a particularly close mother-son bond (Carl is a different story). This is not surprising at all; the Wilsons lived very ugly - horrific abuse from the father, while the mother is a non-entity, in terms of protecting the children.  Murry was a malignantly narcissistic maniac, and viewed Brian as his personal property - a thing belonging only to Murry.  He wouldn't have wanted to share Brian with anyone, even (especially) his wife. (Read the all-important 1965 letter from Murry to Brian - Murry is jealous of the "love" he believes Audree gave to the boys. He wouldn't have tolerated any meaningful mother-son interaction between Audree and his most prized possession, his son Brian)

Unfortunately, while Murry and Audree maintained a positive attitude toward music in the home, they expressed, through their actions and non-actions, a very negative attitude toward Brian, didn't they?  So the overall point to keep in mind should be that what Brian - and therefore, Dennis and Carl too - achieved in music was by an overwhelming margin achieved in spite of, not because of, his parents.  Brian might understand this today, who knows. Dennis didn't live long enough to realize it, and Carl would probably have disagreed vehemently with that notion.

Murry was definitely the one Brian was trying to impress,]

I understand why you would say this; after all, it's been repeated many times over the years. Who knows, Brian himself may have said (or still might say) this from time to time: "I really wanted to impress my dad." More often what Brian says is "My dad lit a fire under me," which is a slightly different statement, and of course freighted with a whole bunch of unpleasant meaning.

I disagree with the idea that Brian was motivated to impress his father because, among other reasons, it implies that Brian's motivation was external.  But Brian's motivation - at least for his good stuff - was internal. It came from within.  Brian's best music in the 1960s was in fact reflective of his effort to distance (liberate) himself from his traumatic past, which necessarily means it was an effort to distance himself from Murry, not to impress him.  And even if Brian was motivated to impress Murry, then he didn't do a very good job of it, did he? Murry didn't like "Fun Fun Fun," he didn't like "I Get Around," he despised what Brian is doing on Pet Sounds, he doubted "Good Vibrations," and in his 1965 letter he takes Brian to task for being musically selfish - as of that point, it's possible that Murry was referring to what Brian had been doing with "Please Let Me Wonder" and "In the Back of My Mind."

Also, while I'm at it, Murry was not happy when Brian started to write c. '61-'62.  This is what Dorinda Morgan remembered.
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juggler
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2021, 10:32:33 AM »

Like of all of us, the Wilson brothers are the products of both their parents.  Early 1930s Los Angeles, Murry Wilson and Audree Korthof got together at Washington High School because they were both into music.  So it's nature and nurture.  (And for the good and the bad; the gifts and the dysfunctionality; everything).

But absolutely agree with JakeH that both Brian and Carl as young teens expressed intentions to pursue music as a career is absolutely the product of a home environment that was actively promoting not only enjoyment of music but also the idea of it as a career.  The promotion of music as a career and a business was almost certainly coming mainly from Murry.

 In a sense, the very existence and success of Beach Boys (i.e., the children of Murry and Audree becoming what they did) seems far more inevitable than, say, the Beatles becoming the Beatles.  John Lennon's guardian Aunt Mimi regularly told him that he'd never make a living as a musician.  George's mother supposedly liked singing and appreciated music, but probably wasn't steering George toward a career in music.  Ringo's childhood was apparently Dickensian.  I've seen Beatles fans speculate that there'd never have been a Beatles if Mary McCartney hadn't died because Paul would never had led the teen life that he did if Mary had been around.

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JakeH
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2021, 12:11:30 PM »


But absolutely agree with JakeH that both Brian and Carl as young teens expressed intentions to pursue music as a career is absolutely the product of a home environment that was actively promoting not only enjoyment of music but also the idea of it as a career.  The promotion of music as a career and a business was almost certainly coming mainly from Murry.


I'm not sure I agree with the idea that Ma and Pa Wilson were promoting music as a career for Brian (if this is what you mean).  For the reasons I stated above, I doubt Audree Wilson had anything to say to Brian about what he should do for his career.  So then, as you've indicate it's really about Murry's opinion of Brian's future prospects - did Murry want Brian to become a musician? That I'm not sure about.

First of all, Murry, while earning (admirably) some measure of success as a songwriter, never accomplished his goals. He failed to achieve what he wanted to do in music, which we can assume was to become a professional songwriter who didn't have to moonlight.  So first of all, if Murry was encouraging Brian to pursue music as a profession, it meant he would be encouraging Brian to succeed in a field in which Murry had more or less failed, or come up short.  It's an appealing sentimental notion, but Murry was not that kind of father. There's just no evidence for that kind of selflessness.  Brian's ability to succeed (seemingly so easily) in the business in which his father had failed was effectively Brian's Original Sin in music - he spent a good portion of his life being punished (and later, punishing himself) for doing that.

The story of the Labor Day practice session - specifically Murry's reaction to it - does not suggest a father who wants his son(s) pursuing music.  Why most authors and commentators have overlooked this, I have no idea.

Insofar as Murry wanted to Brian to pursue (and succeed) in music, it would only be to the extent that Murry could exploit Brian's abilities and bend them toward the promotion of his own musical career and musical ego. Again, as I said in my earlier post, to Murry, Brian was an object - a tool - to be used for the benefit of Murry's self-aggrandizement and financial enrichment.  When the Beach Boys first started (this would after the Candix single but before the Capitol signing) Murry wanted the Boys to sing his songs; after all, Murry was then the preeminent, most successful songwriter in the Wilson family. The Beach Boys didn't sing them, and that has to be because Brian (in some way or another) drew a line in the sand. Murry then seized control of Brian's publishing, and as Nik Venet once testified, Murry would use Brian as a wedge with Capitol in order to push his own songs. I could go on and on... ultimate point is that Murry would have wanted Brian to succeed in the music biz only to the extent that Murry would be king of the hill, so to speak. Hence, Murry's resentful comments over the years (to the press and in private, as overheard by the likes of Loren Schwartz) that Brian is overrated, not the only talented one in the family, etc.  Did Murry want Brian to succeed on his own - as Brian Wilson? Absolutely not.  And By the end of the Sixties, with Brian down at the heels, Murry had finally got what he wanted - Brian writing with him ("Breakaway") or with his proxy, ex-Sunray and Murry partisan Rick Henn.  The story of what happened to Brian during these years is appalling.


The promotion of music as a career and a business was almost certainly coming mainly from Murry.


Regarding the promotion of music as a career for Brian: The impetus, or the drive for Brian to do something for himself - as a young man trying to establish a career without parental oversight and control - I would say is more attributable to (in no particular order): (1) Brian himself; (2) Al Jardine; (3) Gary Usher; (4) Mike Love.  In his first autobiography (the one everybody thinks is wholly worthless) Brian says that Mike encouraged him during the relevant time period - "you can do this, your stuff is as good as anything on the radio," "we can do this," etc.  I choose to believe that's true. (I also believe what Usher said - that Usher told Brian they've got to bear down and write songs to attract attention from labels.)  Of course, working with Mike doesn't come without its own set of conditions and drawbacks...


 In a sense, the very existence and success of Beach Boys (i.e., the children of Murry and Audree becoming what they did) seems far more inevitable than, say, the Beatles becoming the Beatles.  John Lennon's guardian Aunt Mimi regularly told him that he'd never make a living as a musician.  George's mother supposedly liked singing and appreciated music, but probably wasn't steering George toward a career in music.  Ringo's childhood was apparently Dickensian.  I've seen Beatles fans speculate that there'd never have been a Beatles if Mary McCartney hadn't died because Paul would never had led the teen life that he did if Mary had been around.


This is interesting; however, I believe that it was less inevitable for the Wilson Bros. to do anything than it was for the Beatles, especially for the likes of McCartney.  This is because of the nature of the home environment that I touched on above. People who are treated the way Brian and Dennis were are in my view less likely to succeed in life than someone like McCartney, who, his mom's premature death notwithstanding, grew up in a loving home and had a positive relationship with his mother (see: "Let It Be"). As for John Lennon, well...
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juggler
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2021, 03:57:08 PM »

JakeH, have you read the book "Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-63" by James Murphy?   It seems pretty clear from that book that Murry was very actively encouraging teen Brian's career aspirations.  Murry was taking Brian to Four Freshmen shows and finagling his way backstage to meet the guys.  Teen Brian visited the manager of the Freshmen asking advice on starting a group like that.

In Rolling Stone 50 years ago, Nick Venet recalled how Murry saw Brian as the next Elvis.

Venet:
I don’t think the father really knew where his son was at. Murry Wilson once told me that his son was the next Elvis Presley. I said, ‘Mr. Wilson, I think Brian might be as big as Presley in sales, but I don’t think he wants to be Presley.’ He said, ‘No, he’s doing everything Presley does – but he’s doing it better.’ I said, ‘Mr. Wilson, I think Brian’s doing a different kind of music which is really Brian Wilson music’ He kind of shook his head, looked at me and walked away.
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/beach-boys-a-california-saga-part-ii-233192/
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JakeH
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« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2021, 10:45:09 PM »

JakeH, have you read the book "Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-63" by James Murphy?   It seems pretty clear from that book that Murry was very actively encouraging teen Brian's career aspirations.  Murry was taking Brian to Four Freshmen shows and finagling his way backstage to meet the guys.  Teen Brian visited the manager of the Freshmen asking advice on starting a group like that.

In Rolling Stone 50 years ago, Nick Venet recalled how Murry saw Brian as the next Elvis.

Venet:
I don’t think the father really knew where his son was at. Murry Wilson once told me that his son was the next Elvis Presley. I said, ‘Mr. Wilson, I think Brian might be as big as Presley in sales, but I don’t think he wants to be Presley.’ He said, ‘No, he’s doing everything Presley does – but he’s doing it better.’ I said, ‘Mr. Wilson, I think Brian’s doing a different kind of music which is really Brian Wilson music’ He kind of shook his head, looked at me and walked away.
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/beach-boys-a-california-saga-part-ii-233192/

Thanks for engaging on this interesting (to me, at least) issue... yes I've read the Murphy book. It's been a while though. The anecdotes you list there don't really change my subjective opinion as expressed in earlier posts.

The Elvis story is pretty off the wall.  The main problem is that it at most only describes what a loud, blustery, attention-seeking Murry is saying to a Capitol A&R man; it could have been something along the lines of "I'm tellin' ya, Nik, my son's gonna be the next Presley..."  So Venet recalled Murry saying this to him. But when did he say this? In what context?  Also, if Murry really believed this about Brian, then first of all, as Venet himself says, it means Murry hasn't the slightest idea of who his son is - either as a person or as a musician.   But does he really believe that Brian could be Elvis? It would be more relevant if Murry said this not to Nik Venet, but to Brian himself; if for instance Brian says, "my dad would take me aside and tell me that I was good enough to be as big as Elvis." That might mean something, about fatherly encouragement, or it might not.

But, on the subject of Murry telling Brian he could be great, we have one comment that is verifiable, straight from the horse's mouth: On the "Rhonda" tape from March (?) 1965, Murry says to Brian, "You could live for 200 years if you grow."  On its face, this is quite accurate, and it may very well prove to be true.  Perhaps more than anyone else, Murry knew how good Brian was, and could be. Again, though, because Murry was a messed-up narcissistic, child-abusing sociopath, he could never allow Brian to excel like that; the narcissistic injury would be too great for him to bear. (Remember how Murry totally fell apart when they sacked him as manager)  The irony is that Murry says these words to Brian at a time during which Murry's other words and actions (current, past and future)  unequivocally demonstrate that he doesn't want his son to "grow" at all.  As he and Brian go back and forth, Brian says, "you want us to go back to the '409' sound" and so on and so forth.  So you have Murry saying ostensibly encouraging words to Brian - "you could live 200 years... -  but those words are not intended by Murry to mean what they seem on their face. Rather the real meaning is "you will fail, and I want and need you to fail."

I don't expect any of this to make sense to anybody. But what I am trying to describe here, with respect to the "Rhonda" session is the way Brian was continuing to be abused by his father - not physically any longer, but psychologically, on the level of communication, where words and phrases said by the parent do not mean what they seem to mean and the child is left confused.  Brian was raised with mixed messages like this, including "hate is love" "success is failure" etc. etc.  Brian was told that it was his responsibility to ensure the survival of the family music business for the benefit of the entire family, and when he did what he needed to do to fulfill his obligations - come off the road, change the music, do Pet Sounds, Smile - he was persecuted for it.  In my opinion this repeated mind-f**c*ing of Brian contributed to his mental illness symptoms. The "mind gangsters" Brian would speak of during the Smile-era were in fact very real. His father was one of them.

I've said enough (for now). Can of worms closed, as far as I'm concerned.  All this started, I guess, when I felt the urge to correct the conception that Murry and Audree are to any significant degree responsible for Brian and the Beach Boys' success.  I disagree with that.
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Tom
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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2021, 12:50:34 AM »

I agree that Audree and Murry weren't responsible for their sons' success. I do however simultaneously believe that they may never have had the idea/incentive to become musicians had they not had two musician parents.
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