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Author Topic: A question for all Beach Boys and Brian Wilson fans  (Read 1643 times)
Zenobi
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« on: May 22, 2022, 01:38:11 PM »

After almost 60 years of being a Beach Boy fans, I can say that their music, overall, is my favourite music ever. It has an unique magic, and always had. Up to "At My Piano" and the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack.
Now, what do you think this magic it?
For me, it's difficult to nail it exactly, but I'd say that it could be the mix of the commonplace, sunny, upbeat, with the quirky, shadowy, sometimes weird. Nobody else has such a mix, in the same amount.
What do you think?
« Last Edit: May 24, 2022, 06:26:34 PM by Zenobi » Logged
phirnis
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2022, 07:46:29 PM »

It's certainly a combination of several things. This may sound like something Mike Love would say but for me one of the main strengths lies in the music being both melancholy and upbeat. Nobody does that like the BB, especially on the earlier stuff when Brian was in full charge. I think it was Peter Ames Carlin who wrote that there is a sense of "fragile optimism" that is apparent in Brian's music and I thought that was a wonderful way to put it. Their music is also incredibly inventive, in terms of arrangements/production, key changes, etc., and that makes it stand out for me.
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rab2591
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2022, 01:37:52 PM »

I agree with all of the above. And I really think these guys created a little piece of heaven right here on earth and that is what makes them so special to so many people. And I think it was a mixture of God and their drive for success that created this "anomaly" of a music group.

I say God because the these guys have the most angelic/unique voices, they all came together at just the right time in just the perfect place. It seems too coincidental for it to be chance. However if one is an atheist/agnostic then you could derive joy from the thought that the universe, in all it's upheavals and eons of evolution came together for a spit second of geological time to create such a harmonious blend of beauty for us to enjoy.

And these guys were absolutely driven - the amount of shows they did, the amount of takes they did in the studio. The band drama, fighting, deaths, drugs, etc - they overcame a lot, they were damaged by a lot, but they still keep on making music. Even if the band is in tatters at the moment (I mean that there really is no band making original music anymore).

I really think that their voices lend so much to how this music is perceived. Brian's voice in incredible - far and away the best singer I can think of (maybe besides Carl but I do prefer Brian's tone). And for the kid down the street (Al) to have just as a unique voice (and somehow he still sounds young to this day). Mike even had a unique tone that added so much to those early songs. Bruce came along in the mid-60s but his voice is yet another beautiful tone on these records.

Not many bands have that amount of talent. And then Brian's music style - his compositions are outta this world - and were consistently so in the 60s.

Also, these were kids, most of which not out of high school yet, and they were living every teenagers dream: being rock-n-roll stars. There is so much to their music, so complex, beautiful, harmonious - it's why they are so loved, and yet still an enigma.

Magic indeed.
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"ragegasm" - /rāj • ga-zəm/ : a logical mental response produced when your favorite band becomes remotely associated with the bro-country genre.
Zenobi
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2022, 06:12:36 PM »

Yes! I think that the Beach Boys caught lightning in a bottle, and after all these years that lightning is STILL in the bottle, despite all the attempts to break it. "At My Piano" and the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack convinced me of that.
The six angelic voices, including three brothers and a cousin, that family sound which surely helped making their harmonies unique.
Brian's genius as a composer, arranger and producer, Dennis' different genius, Carl's talent (and genius as a vocalist).
Brian's mastery of such a wide palette of music. The surf music. Rock and roll. The pre-Pet Sounds. Pet Sounds. Good Vibrations. SMiLE. The post-SMiLE. Fairy Tale Music. Love You. Rio Grande. The Paley sessions. The "solo" albums, particularly TLOS. The "suite" in 2012.
And yet, all this is not enough to fully explain the magic.

If I should choose a single example of the magic, I'd choose an almost unknown little piece, "Country Feeling", which later would evolve in "Rock & Roll Has Got a Hold on Me" in the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack:

https://youtu.be/_gkuHQojrd0

But also these few seconds of perfection...

https://youtu.be/wbdiCiASn40

And I happened on this by chance after "Meant For You", but hear Carole King being infused with the magic, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO-vPXNvQ3A
« Last Edit: May 24, 2022, 06:28:00 PM by Zenobi » Logged
MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2022, 07:23:18 PM »

If I should choose a single example of the magic, I'd choose an almost unknown little piece, "Country Feeling", which later would evolve in "Rock & Roll Has Got a Hold on Me" in the "Long Promised Road" soundtrack:

https://youtu.be/_gkuHQojrd0

New to me. Fantastic!

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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2022, 09:24:16 AM »

The magic was Brian and the music he created and contributed to. When he wasn't involved in Beach Boys music, even though the music could be top-notch, it was missing that magic.
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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
SamMcK
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2022, 04:49:02 PM »

Brian Wilson has a rich and colourful tapestry of sound running through his mind. The fact that he figured out a way to translate it into something, in this case music, is nothing short of miraculous. He was/is such a creative visionary that he spurred on those nearest to him to either greater heights. Sometimes Dennis, Carl and Mike at their best could even tap into that same universe of musicality that Brian had. Hell even Bruce arguably did it with Disney Girls.

If you're any sort of a creatively minded person, Brian is about as inspirational a figure as you could hope to find. I mean my god, he went through all he went through, came out the other side and survived?

I've been having a fairly productive last month of writing for my own book, and nothing has spurred me on quite like having stuff like the Pet Sounds + SMiLE Sessions box sets playing. Nothing is so awe inspiring as what Brian Wilson was able to accomplish in his 20's, just f*cking perfection.

If only people understood mental illness better back then. But what an amazing visionary to inspire those who have had to battle their own mental and physical health struggles. That's another thing that makes The Beach Boys so incredible, they have so many highs and lows in terms of emotions in their music. A whole universe of creativity in the same way as Dylan or The Beatles. But people are still catching up on understanding just how amazing Brian's work is.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 05:00:38 PM by SamMcK » Logged
Zenobi
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2022, 07:05:18 PM »

The magic was Brian and the music he created and contributed to. When he wasn't involved in Beach Boys music, even though the music could be top-notch, it was missing that magic.

Of course! That particular magic was and is Brian's, no doubt about that.
But Brian's magic was enabled and brought to fulfilment by two groups of people. In the '60s and later, it was the fantastic, unique ensemble which was the Beach Boys, of course. And in the 2000s, the great band which had the Wondermints at its core.  

And... then, what is Brian's particular magic? And by this, here I don't mean the miracle that Brian gave us TWO great albums as late as the end of 2021, some months ago.
Here I simply mean the music. What is that makes even comparatively minor songs, or even snippets, by Brian so unique? And makes even a cover of a song, done by him, sound so totally "Brian" (think "Wanderlust", or "Proud Mary"). I have read a lot about his music, but nothing, imho, which really nailed a possible answer. Maybe I am looking for the impossible, and there is no real answer?
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 07:09:56 PM by Zenobi » Logged
rab2591
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2022, 06:47:51 AM »

The magic was Brian and the music he created and contributed to. When he wasn't involved in Beach Boys music, even though the music could be top-notch, it was missing that magic.

Of course! That particular magic was and is Brian's, no doubt about that.
But Brian's magic was enabled and brought to fulfilment by two groups of people. In the '60s and later, it was the fantastic, unique ensemble which was the Beach Boys, of course. And in the 2000s, the great band which had the Wondermints at its core.  

And... then, what is Brian's particular magic? And by this, here I don't mean the miracle that Brian gave us TWO great albums as late as the end of 2021, some months ago.
Here I simply mean the music. What is that makes even comparatively minor songs, or even snippets, by Brian so unique? And makes even a cover of a song, done by him, sound so totally "Brian" (think "Wanderlust", or "Proud Mary"). I have read a lot about his music, but nothing, imho, which really nailed a possible answer. Maybe I am looking for the impossible, and there is no real answer?

Brian tapped into something ethereal. Brian from 1977 regarding Pet Sounds:

Quote
Carl and I used to hold a series of prayer sessions for the world. I got into marijuana and it opened some doors for me and I got a little more committed to ... the making of music for people on a spiritual level. ... Carl said, "What if we make an album after these prayer sessions, an album for people? A special album." I said, "That's a good idea."

And I know we're talking about his music in general and not just Pet Sounds - but that's just it: Brian is the type of person who would initiate a prayer session linked to his music. He wanted to write music that "people would pray to". SamMcK brought up Brian's mental health - and that's probably a major reason why Brian's music was so empathetic/emotional/nostalgic. And it's probably why Brian sought a spiritual link in his life - to help alleviate the demons plaguing him.

Perhaps Brian created such different music than other musicians because he had a different drive than other musicians. Rock stars want the girls, they want the fame, so they create great music that will get them laid/famous. Whereas Brian shied away from the stage life, and retreated from the spotlight in ways. He seemed to be driven to be the best, which is why he wrote #1 hits, but those hits were permeated with Brian's sad/nostalgic perspective on life.

And while many of us want to live/party like rockstars (especially when we're teenagers), there is something deep down inside of us that may long for sadness, or long for past times (which in turn makes us sad). Take the song "All Summer Long" played at the end of American Graffiti: "All Summer Long" was written in the mid-60s, yet it fits perfectly at the end of American Graffiti due to the nostalgic subject/mood of the song. Yet the song was written well before the nostalgia era of American Graffiti...Brian was tapped into something that hadn't even been considered yet in pop culture.

Idk, I'm just rambling. You're right, Zenobi, the answer may be impossible. But I think that everything that everyone has written here (perhaps excluding my ramblings haha) is entirely on point. There's truth in it all, yet still no definitive answer.
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God must’ve smiled the day Brian Wilson was born!

"ragegasm" - /rāj • ga-zəm/ : a logical mental response produced when your favorite band becomes remotely associated with the bro-country genre.
Zenobi
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2022, 12:09:06 PM »

Thinking about that again, I think that Brian's music has always had an unique pristine "innocence", which nobody else in the world has. His music takes you to a better world.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2022, 12:10:50 PM by Zenobi » Logged
MyDrKnowsItKeepsMeCalm
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2022, 06:16:48 AM »

I think it was Peter Ames Carlin who wrote that there is a sense of "fragile optimism" that is apparent in Brian's music and I thought that was a wonderful way to put it. 

"Fragile optimism" is a great phrase. It feels very Brian, and makes their music very emotional/relatable in a way that much other pop music isn't.

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Zenobi
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2022, 09:49:00 AM »

Maybe at least part of Brian's magic is that he, wholly naturally, tends to reconcile opposites (or near opposites): fragile and optimist, melancholy and upbeat, avant-garde and mainstream... But there is something further than all this, something I can't nail in any way.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2022, 09:55:43 AM by Zenobi » Logged
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