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Question: Rate The Beach Boys and the California Myth - David Leaf (1978 & 1985)
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Author Topic: The Beach Boys and the California Myth - David Leaf (1978 & 1985)  (Read 10511 times)
49ersphil
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« on: August 27, 2007, 02:07:24 AM »

Hi All

   

I'm new here so be gentle!

I'm looking for a copy of David Leaf's "California Myth" book but I have a question.

I understand that there are 2 editions of it.
My natural instinct is to go for the updated version but are there any good reasons to go for the original?

Looking through previous posts it seems that some guys around here don't care for David.
Any particular reason?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 04:23:13 AM by SMiLE-Holland » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2007, 04:33:01 AM »

If you do buy it realize that he thinks it's Brian and the 5 a--holes. It has some merit but it's not fair to people like Marilyn Wilson or any of Brian's family really.  If you had a choice go for the new version. I have laid out why I don't like him personally in old posts. You probably have read them but if you have any questions after looking at them let me know.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2008, 04:41:11 PM by MBE » Logged
Spencer
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2009, 04:13:17 AM »


I'm new to this forum- I havne't read David Leaf's book yet but I'm excited about it- I've tried to find your comments on David Leaf but this forum is massive- do you know what topic they were in please?
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SMiLE-Holland
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2009, 05:39:17 AM »

Hello spencer,

You'd be surprised to hear this, but until now there's hasn't been a big discussion on this book yet. But who knows it might start right now...
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2009, 06:15:53 AM »

well fortuitously I've just got hold of one today- it may be golddust, I've been trying to find it all year I've looked all over Britain (well it feels like), scoured bookshops in Paris to no avail,  finally I discovered a friend who lives streets away had a copy even thogh I've been looking for it all year- anyway I'll read it this weekend and then hopefully we can begin some friendly debating
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Ian
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2009, 06:23:12 AM »

I think it is a very good book.  It is well written and covers most of the things you'd want to know-up to the late 70s. The 1985 reprint covers the 1978-84 period in summary fashion.  The rap against the book (and DL) is that it is very pro-Brian to the detriment of the other BBs.  There's no doubt that almost every BB book ever written has focused more on BW than anyone else (or DW), but that doesn't mean its not worth reading.  Of course-as a weirdo who has spent the last few years zealously unearthing as many facts as I can about the BBs-touring, sessions, etc-I can spot many errors in Leaf-but he wrote the book in 1977 (and last updated it in 1985).  It also, of course, suggested that a BB renaissance was still possible-but as we know now-1977 was really the end of the Brian dominated BBs, rather than just the start of a second great BW era.
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2009, 07:39:14 AM »

I think it's telling that attempts to be fair and objective in telling the Beach Boys' story all wind up putting the bulk of the focus on Brian over the rest of the group.  Endless Harmony has a more egalitarian approach but again, Brian looms large in the story that was told there. Catch A Wave avoids the obvious hero worship of Brian that David Leaf has, but most of the same people who come off looking bad in Peter Carlin's book come off looking bad in Leaf's book too. All of this tells me that maybe Leaf wasn't as off-base as one might think.
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Spencer
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2009, 04:55:35 AM »

Well I'm agreeing with that- it's strange as the most of the Beach Boys and the label didn't seem to like Smile yes they also didn't like the other marvelous songs and ideas Brian Had to offer like 'Until I die', yet they were unable to come up with anything better and took strange decisions like re-recording their own hits; which along with Capitol's decision to constantly re-release past hits amounted to a constant recycling of Beach Boys material for decades.

Also this almost 'ban' on Brian producing/collaborating with other bands strangled a vital outside influence that all bands require to grow. After all, the Beatles were forever collaborating with others and writing songs for other people when they were together and this can only help an artist.

Time and time again, in book after book the same people come up as being down on Brian's ambitions and not being willing to give him space- ultimately this was to the group's detriment.

Although I was able to see a little of the other side of things when I recently finally read Jules Siegel's article, and I can quite imagine the frustration of the band and label as they watched months and months of studio time and money disappear in increasingly outré pursuits. Still it's a great shame the band/label couldn't have realised what Mr Wison was trying to acheive and all work together to release SMILE in some form that wasn't Smiley Smile (interesting though that is), or that Brian wasn't allowed to release it as a solo record.

David Leaf's book also notes how upon being fired as gruop manager Murry Wilson spent a great deal of time in bed. To quote the wise words of the motion picture Superman- "The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son"
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Andrew G. Doe
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2009, 02:06:51 AM »

Coupla comments:

and the label didn't seem to like Smile

As the Capitol execs never actually heard any of the Smile sessions while they were in progress, that's hardly a fair comment... and right up until Brian said he was scrapping it, they were waiting impatiently for it.

Also this almost 'ban' on Brian producing/collaborating with other bands strangled a vital outside influence that all bands require to grow. After all, the Beatles were forever collaborating with others and writing songs for other people when they were together and this can only help an artist.

Huh Huh  Shocked

Here's a list of Brian's non-BB single productions 1963-65:

  4/63     Honeys              Shoot The Curl/Surfin' Down the Swannee River
  9/63     Honeys              Pray For Surf/Hide Go Seek
10/63     Sharon Marie       Run-Around Lover/Summertime
12/63     Honeys               The One You Can't Have/
  1/64     Survivors            Pamela Jean/After The Game
  3/64     Castells               I Do/
  3/64     Paul Petersen    She Rides With Me/
  4/64     Honeys              He's A Doll/The Love Of A Boy And A Girl
  6/64     Gary Usher        Sacramento/Just The Way I Feel
  6/64     Sharon Marie     Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby/Story Of My Life
  6/65     Glen Campbell   Guess I'm Dumb/
  9/65     Bob & Bobby      Twelve-O-Four/Baby What You Want Me To Do

During the same three years, he also co-wrote tracks for Jan & Dean and sang bvs on releases by J&D, The Hondells, The Timers, Annette Funicello, Hale & The Hushabyes and The Blossoms. Brian used these extra-curricular outings to hone his work with session musicians.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2009, 03:42:08 AM by Andrew G. Doe » Logged

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Spencer
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2009, 07:11:36 AM »

ok well as for capital maybe, I always got the impression that they just didn't understand what Brian was aiming at and weren't very encouraging. They were hardly helpful with their practice of releasing greatest hits when they should have been promoting Pet Sounds and making them record Beach Boys party- if they'd pushed pet sounds more then it may have been as successful as it was in Britain giving Brian more clout and more importantly confidence to do SMILE. Although I recognise that Brian could have released SMILE if he wanted to and pressed on in defiance of others, I think he was just ground down by both his own band and label not understanding, and whilst after reading 'Goodbye Surfing Hello God' I can comprehend why the Beach Boys were a little hesitant about Smile and about the perceived increasingly aimless recording sessions, they should have left him to it after all the people who seemed most in opposition to SMILE were hardly capable of writing a song themselves. The point Mr Leaf makes which I agree with is that the Beach Boys were not urbane, cultural literates and this clashed with Brian's natural curiosity and appetite to try anything.

As for those collaborations- are they all Brian's songs? It always seemed through numerous accounts that he was discouraged from giving good songs to others and indeed the whole BB camp seemed opposed to him collaborating with others- Van Dyke Parks etc? Unless of course they were pre-approved? Is this fair? Although I've just noticed that he did co-write some of those songs. hmm maybe I've been reading to much of Wouldn't it be nice then?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2009, 08:08:09 AM by Spencer » Logged
punkinhead
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2010, 04:17:40 PM »

Any chance this would be available or there's going to be a newer version?
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2011, 09:56:27 PM »

Any chance this would be available or there's going to be a newer version?
What's Mr. Leaf been working on?

Updating this from 1985 I hope?
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To view my video documentation of my Beach Boys collection go to www.youtube.com/justinplank

"Someone needs to tell Adrian Baker that imitation isn't innovation." -The Real Beach Boy

~post of the century~
"Well, you reached out to me too, David, and I'd be more than happy to fill Bgas's shoes. You don't need him anyway - some of us have the same items in our collections as he does and we're also much better writers. Spoiled brat....."
-Mikie

"in this online beach boy community, I've found that you're either correct or corrected. Which in my mind is all in good fun to show ones knowledge of their favorite band."- punkinhead
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 04:06:03 PM »

I just ordered that book from a seller on Amazon.  Looking forward to reading it.  Just finished Stebbins' Dennis Wilson book, Heroes and Villains, and the Brian Wilson bio.  Catch a Wave.  Sort of on a Beach Boys streak here. 
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punkinhead
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2011, 05:09:57 PM »

If I've read every book on the list of Book reviews here but not this one, am I missing out on something?
I was thinkin of ordering this on Amazon.
I pretty much have every other book.



On the other hand, I do not have the new Endless Summer book, but the reviews I read made it seem irrelevant...perhaps if I see it at a book store, I'll purchase it, but I won't go outta my way and order it...it's been said by a few that it has no new information in it.
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To view my video documentation of my Beach Boys collection go to www.youtube.com/justinplank

"Someone needs to tell Adrian Baker that imitation isn't innovation." -The Real Beach Boy

~post of the century~
"Well, you reached out to me too, David, and I'd be more than happy to fill Bgas's shoes. You don't need him anyway - some of us have the same items in our collections as he does and we're also much better writers. Spoiled brat....."
-Mikie

"in this online beach boy community, I've found that you're either correct or corrected. Which in my mind is all in good fun to show ones knowledge of their favorite band."- punkinhead
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2011, 02:47:29 PM »

It's a good read, but you gotta keep in mind that David Leaf is extremely biased toward Brian...
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punkinhead
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2011, 03:54:32 PM »

It's a good read, but you gotta keep in mind that David Leaf is extremely biased toward Brian...
that's true.
What's he been up to?
As last I heard there was a falling out between him and Brian.
Perhaps he's gonna publish a new version for the anniversery?
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To view my video documentation of my Beach Boys collection go to www.youtube.com/justinplank

"Someone needs to tell Adrian Baker that imitation isn't innovation." -The Real Beach Boy

~post of the century~
"Well, you reached out to me too, David, and I'd be more than happy to fill Bgas's shoes. You don't need him anyway - some of us have the same items in our collections as he does and we're also much better writers. Spoiled brat....."
-Mikie

"in this online beach boy community, I've found that you're either correct or corrected. Which in my mind is all in good fun to show ones knowledge of their favorite band."- punkinhead
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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2015, 10:59:00 PM »

It's a good read, but you gotta keep in mind that David Leaf is extremely biased toward Brian...
This was the first "Beach Boys bio" that I read. Based on what Leaf had to say,  I approached the post Pet Sounds albums very cautiously. He had little to say about them, but he didn't seem impressed. Thankfully, I have my own ears, and was able to appreciate the wonderful music that Brian and the boys made in the late 60's/early 70's. No, it wasn't Pet Sounds, it wasn't Smile, but it was just as good to my ears. The revised edition is definitely worth getting - Leaf has a slightly different perspective on Brian and the band in '85 compared to '77.
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GhostyTMRS
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2015, 06:35:24 PM »

It's a good read, but you gotta keep in mind that David Leaf is extremely biased toward Brian...
This was the first "Beach Boys bio" that I read. Based on what Leaf had to say,  I approached the post Pet Sounds albums very cautiously. He had little to say about them, but he didn't seem impressed. Thankfully, I have my own ears, and was able to appreciate the wonderful music that Brian and the boys made in the late 60's/early 70's. No, it wasn't Pet Sounds, it wasn't Smile, but it was just as good to my ears. The revised edition is definitely worth getting - Leaf has a slightly different perspective on Brian and the band in '85 compared to '77.

It's interesting how perspectives on certain albums change over time. When I was first getting into the Beach Boys, I was warned off their post-Pet Sounds albums by fans as well (I'm wondering if they read this book beforehand!). It's also interesting to hear comments from Bruce from the time period Leaf was writing the book. He came across as a no-nonsense shoot from the hip kind of guy and a bit snarky about his whole Beach Boys experience (of course, he'd be back in the fold soon enough). From the vantage point of 2015, it's funny to read of how Mike and Al seemed practically joined at the hip and Leaf continually throws them both under the bus. Still, it's a good read and I often return to it. 
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2015, 12:36:36 PM »

It's a good read, but you gotta keep in mind that David Leaf is extremely biased toward Brian...
This was the first "Beach Boys bio" that I read. Based on what Leaf had to say,  I approached the post Pet Sounds albums very cautiously. He had little to say about them, but he didn't seem impressed. Thankfully, I have my own ears, and was able to appreciate the wonderful music that Brian and the boys made in the late 60's/early 70's. No, it wasn't Pet Sounds, it wasn't Smile, but it was just as good to my ears. The revised edition is definitely worth getting - Leaf has a slightly different perspective on Brian and the band in '85 compared to '77.

It's interesting how perspectives on certain albums change over time. When I was first getting into the Beach Boys, I was warned off their post-Pet Sounds albums by fans as well (I'm wondering if they read this book beforehand!). It's also interesting to hear comments from Bruce from the time period Leaf was writing the book. He came across as a no-nonsense shoot from the hip kind of guy and a bit snarky about his whole Beach Boys experience (of course, he'd be back in the fold soon enough). From the vantage point of 2015, it's funny to read of how Mike and Al seemed practically joined at the hip and Leaf continually throws them both under the bus. Still, it's a good read and I often return to it. 
Bruce comes across as a great defender of Brian in the book; never would have imagined he would be joined at the hip with "the enemy', or that Al would end up on Brian's side. Really would be nice if Leaf would revisit this seminal book, update it, or just rewrite it, as I'm sure his perspective on many things in Beach Boys world has changed since 1985.
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