Brian Wilson & Phil Spector

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Phil H:
I think most of us here know that Brian Wilson has always held such a high regard for Phil Spector. We've almost all heard the tale about Brian once owning a juke box and no matter what button you pressed it always played Be My Baby, probably Brian's most favourite song ever. But what about Phil Spector and his opinion of Brian. Again, we've almost all heard about Brian attending a Spector recording session back in the '60s and Spector sending Brian home because his piano playing was just not good enough.....

Well hold on to your hats and read this passage that I've come across in the book I'm currently reading. It's called Tearing Down The Wall Of Sound, The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown. I haven't completed the book yet but I have had a peep at the many references to the Beach Boys and in particular Brian Wilson via the index. This excerpt is from page 406;

'You have to conquer yourself,' he said (he being Spector), 'and take control of yourself. I make fun of a lot of people, like Brian Wilson, because they don't have control over themselves. I think they're largely phonies. They use their illness as an excuse. I have no mercy for that.' But Wilson, I said, idolized him ('I said', being the author Mick Brown) 'I know. He does interviews; he writes his autobiography about me. I know, I know, I know.' He shrugged. 'It's sad, you know, but I don't know whether you can feel sorry for untalented people. Maybe he's not that talented. Maybe he's overrated. Maybe. Jimi Hendrix was not overrated. Janis Joplin was not overrated. I feel sorry that they died, because they shouldn't have. They should have been a little smarter. Brian Wilson outlived his brothers for God's fucking sake. How do you figure that? Carl Wilson - pretty bright guy. Dennis - pretty silly guy; y'know, a muppet. And Brian outlives them? But maybe Brian wasn't that talented to begin with, and we're burdening him with that. We make these people more than they are. I don't feel sorry for Brian Wilson; I never thought he was that talented to begin with. I'm glad he idolizes; I wish that Jimi Hendrix idolized me. I heard he did. I'd be more impressed if somebody with a brain idolized me.' I told him that when I had met Brian Wilson he had talked of perhaps wanting to be produced by Spector. He smiled. The idea was clearly preposterous.
End quote:

In contrast read what Brian had to say about Phil Spector in this interview which he gave to Sylvie Simmons for the Mojo Collections magazine back in 2002. (This is not the full interview);

Ask him about the dark years and a cloud goes over his eyes. “It was a bad place.... The world got to be too scary. I didn't want to be in it,” he answers in fits and starts. He doesn't like to look back - “wallow in the mire”. If he accidentally hears an old Beach Boys album – he never plays them himself - “sometimes it brings back sadness, sometimes it brings back a good feeling.” If he sees an old picture of himself, depressed and overweight, he feels “totally embarrassed. But I lost the weight – 311 lbs! I got over it.”
One thing he has still to get over is “feeling competitive” with Phil Spector. Every day, several times a day, he plays Phil Spector records – the Christmas album too. He owns several copies of each so there will always be one at hand. Some of them he has laid out for Collections on his coffee table: The Best Of The Ronettes, Phil Spector's Back To Mono 1968-9, Wall Of Sound Vol5; Rare Masters and A Christmas Gift For You. He's been playing them over and over “for a year now. I don't know why. I just love the energy and love in them.” Asked if there's some essence of the music he's trying to reach, he nods and says, “I think that's it.” There was a time when all that Brian wanted to do was “to keep trying to beat Spector at his records. I kept trying to whip him.” When it all started going crazy was when “I couldn't”. I tell him that I think he whipped him good, a number of times. “No,” he says quietly. “No, no.”
End quote:

What do you all think about Spector's derisory dissing of Brian or even Brian's compulsive infatuation with Spector? Are they both mad?

Reggie Dunbar:
Brian's going for a nosh at the deli about the same time Phil's getting
his tray of (insert disgusting b-grade menu item here). Karma is fickle
and it appears Brian has plenty to spare while Phil's morally bankrupt
past has caught up with him. Who's the genius ????

They're both crazy, but Brian's a genuinely nice guy and Spector is a huge jerk who's in jail because he killed someone. Brian's all about love and Phil's all about hate.

I think that is a way oversimplistic view of Phil Spector - many of his associates remember him as kind, considerate, funny, and generous.  However he has demons like Brian has demons - and alcohol brought out those demons in a big way.  Not that that excuses what he did, but let's not caricature the man.   

Brian connected to Phil's music like no one else's, even the Beatles' music - and as a result he tended to project his own thoughts and ideas into Phil's music when they simply aren't there.  He literally worships Spector - I have an interview with Brian where he's asked what his idea of God is and he answers seriously Phil Spector.  To me that's a reflection of Brian's mental, emotional and artistic state, not a serious appraisal of Spector's music and importance, although an argument can be made that you can't really fully appreciate and understand Brian's music without some appreciation of Spector's work.

That would be a humongous letdown for Brian if he read/heard about that. I hope he hasn't and never will...

I don't get it, how could you not be flattered by or appreciative of someone who thought so highly of you?


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