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Author Topic: Bruce's claim that "Til I Die" was the "last great Brian Wilson song"  (Read 4307 times)
thr33
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« on: June 04, 2021, 10:11:25 PM »

I wouldn't agree with Bruce, but which songs that Brian wrote after would you guys say were better? Better is subjective, but I think I would definitely say Still I Dream Of It fits the bill.
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2021, 11:57:47 PM »

yes I was just playing through Still I Dream Of It and It's Over Now, they're incredible.

I put The Night Was So Young, I'll Bet He's Nice, Let's Put Our Hearts Together, and even I Wanna Pick You Up in the same category.

later songs would include The First Time, This Isn't Love, Live Let Live, Midnight's Another Day, From There To Back Again, and more.


it's a shame both Mike and Bruce have no problem making such bold and rather negative statements about Brian. Mike has said similar things about Heroes & Villains being the last great record that Brian produced.
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 12:32:04 AM »

yes I was just playing through Still I Dream Of It and Its Over Now, they're incredible.

I put The Night Was So Young, I'll Bet He's Nice, Let's Put Our Hearts Together, and even I Wanna Pick You Up in the same category.

I would agree with all those.

"Greatness" is, of course, subjective.   If Bruce's point is that Til I Die was a creative peak that Brian did not subsequently surpass, that might be a defensible position.  But the same could perhaps be said of Good Vibrations.  Or maybe God Only Knows.

But if Bruce is claiming that Brian never wrote a "great" song after Til I Die, then I strongly disagree.  Beyond the aforementioned Love You & Adult Child Tracks, I personally consider the following to be "great" songs... far better than anything Bruce has written since "I Write the Songs":

It's Like Heaven
City Blues
The Spirit of Rock and Roll
Melt Away
Love & Mercy
Everything I Need

I'm sorry, but if Bruce has heard this version of Everything I Need (or Foskett's) and thinks it's not a great song, then Bruce's opinions are questionable.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRc_ao2NrIk
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Gerry
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 10:15:40 AM »

Bruce also seems to dislike the Friends album
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Cabinessenceking
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2021, 01:05:42 PM »

To be fair Bruce hasn't even written enough good songs to compete with a single record side of Brian penned songs from pretty much any Beach Boys album. Harsh but true. Nothing but a glorified tour replacement and session musician.
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2021, 07:13:45 PM »

Love and Mercy is the last great Brian Wilson song. He sure treats it that way - it's the one song from his solo career that he's sung in every concert since he started touring in 1999.
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2021, 07:24:28 PM »

It's an odd topic for one songwriter to bring up about a fellow songwriter, no less the one whose songs have kept him employed and well paid for decades.

Anyhoo...

It's a loaded topic. Ask what Paul McCartney's last great song is or was, or Dylan's, or Bacharach's...is anyone asking that of other songwriters like them with a similar legacy that exists and was formed mostly in the 1960's?

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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2021, 08:02:27 PM »

Bruce has always lived in a bubble. I doubt he's heard a lot of post Til I Die tracks from Brian. 

Bruce left after Surf's Up.

For Beach Boys tracks, after Surf's Up, Bruce was on Marcella, California, Chapel of Love, Just Once In My Life, and I'll Bet He's Nice. He was also on Good Time and Susie Cincinnati, but those were recorded before he left. When he rejoined, Brian was passing out in parks in San Diego and living like a vagrant. So in Bruce's head, Til I Die definitely stands out as the last great Brian song. Love You and Adult/Child do not strike me as albums Bruce would like. MIU does seem like something Bruce would actually like, but since it went nowhere, I don't think Bruce is familiar with it. Bruce is focused on the business and that's why he and Mike are still partners; they have the same financial goal. 

As for Brian's solo stuff, I really don't think the rest of the band ever listened to it. Brian said they gave him a quick congrats on his 1988 album before starting a business meeting. I think this meeting might also be the same one that's transcribed in Mike's book. I'm guessing they knew a few songs; the ones promoted and played live. Mike trashed the album in Goldmine; saying that Brian sounded like sh*t, compared to what Brian is capable of sounding like. Mike also was aware of Sweet Insanity, but it might be he only knew the name of the project. I wonder what Carl thought of the 1988 album. It must have been hard for the guys in some sense; seeing Brian create again, but it doesn't sound like Brian of old and it's under Landy, the guy they forced Brian to go back to in 1982. They saw how Landy had his grips on Brian by 1988; I bet some of them felt some guilt at getting Brian into that situation. 
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sloopjohnb72
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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2021, 08:05:19 PM »

Considering 'Til I Die is one of my all time favorites, it's hard to find too many songs from afterward that I'd consider better, but I've always preferred A Day In The Life Of A Tree (which was written and recorded after TID). I think I can also throw Let's Put Our Hearts Together, The Night Was So Young, and Still I Dream Of It on that list.

But those are just songs I'd consider better - obviously there are dozens and dozens of great songs he has written since!
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Tom
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2021, 10:00:11 PM »

Ask what Paul McCartney's last great song is or was, or Dylan's, or Bacharach's...is anyone asking that of other songwriters like them with a similar legacy that exists and was formed mostly in the 1960's?

I think the question comes up occasionally for McCartney, but not to the same extent. Unfortunately I think it's due to stigma around mental illness that this question is such a focal point for some (including members like Bruce and Mike who have definitely been known to engage in inappropriate public speculation about when Brian really 'lost it' and stopped contributing as he once had).
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2021, 11:41:06 AM »

Love You and Adult/Child do not strike me as albums Bruce would like.

Bruce walked out of an interview a couple of my friends conducted with him when they revealed their fondness for Love You. no sh!t.
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2021, 02:20:35 PM »

Are we assuming that Bruce’s comment was meant as a kind of criticism? He might have meant it more in the sense that Brian Wilson’s greatness did not end with Good Vibrations.

It’s a bit of a tricky topic because, as has correctly been pointed out, it is somewhat subjective. But I agree Bruce’s position is at least defensible. Along with pretty much everyone here, anyone that hears the song (or record even might be a more appropriate term) agrees that is a great in that truly transcendent sense. I could name many subsequent songs that move me at least as much (ADITLOAT is a good example, I’ll always contend that it has the superior tag, minority opinion though that might be, some nice looking treats to come on Feel Flows there too), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to general music fans before Til I Die.

Still I Dream Of It is moving, beautiful in its pure yearning etc, but it’s not the complete production that would have the same universal appeal in quite the same way, in my opinion.

I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen Bruce mention something like I Write The Songs in the same sentence as Til I Die so he seems to have some humility in that sense.
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2021, 05:42:31 PM »

I get what Bruce was saying here. Not sure I really agree, but it’s sort of the last truly GREAT Brian Wilson song that was still kind of part of the classic era. As in, it’s as good as anything that came before it in many ways. I think there are tons of songs that came after that I prefer, but I do think it makes sense.

To answer the question- there are plenty of classic that came after. “California Feeling”, most of the Love You album, “Good Timin”.

The last great Brian Wilson songs in my opinion are “Melt Away” and “It’s Not Easy Being Me”.
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feelintheflows
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2021, 06:16:45 PM »

Bruce also seems to dislike the Friends album


Yes I was told the same thing by him before a show a few years back. Was talking to him, getting his auto on my albums and Friends was one of them and he said besides the song Friends , doesn’t care for the album. I was pretty surprised.
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2021, 07:51:54 PM »

Doesn't Bruce's quote about "Til I Die" come from the late 70s? I'm dimly recalling it being in the first edition of David Leaf's book.

Maybe he should be queried about the tracks from TWGMTR, some of which he sang on...there are some very fine songs to be found there, approaching if not absolutely achieving "greatness."
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2021, 08:46:49 PM »

Doesn't Bruce's quote about "Til I Die" come from the late 70s? I'm dimly recalling it being in the first edition of David Leaf's book.

Maybe he should be queried about the tracks from TWGMTR, some of which he sang on...there are some very fine songs to be found there, approaching if not absolutely achieving "greatness."
I think it comes from the "Endless Harmony" documentary.
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2021, 09:10:10 PM »

Big talk to a guy who was better at being a beach boy knock off before becoming a beach boy. Then hardly contributing songs. Him and Al have got to be some of the luckiest musicians of all time.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2021, 02:56:33 AM »

Al is at least a very talented singer who's lead vocals scored the band one of their relatively few number 1 hits. He was also essential to the harmony stack (although that's true for all of them except Bruce imo).

In any case, there's no doubting Al and Bruce were both highly derivative as songwriters.
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2021, 05:42:26 AM »

Bruce always struck me as being the luckiest guy on the entertainment industry. Yeah, I suppose nightly travel can be a drag year after year, but consider what he's paid for what he contributes, year after year after year....what a gig for a hand clapping guy!
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2021, 06:46:21 AM »

Bruce has always lived in a bubble. I doubt he's heard a lot of post Til I Die tracks from Brian. 

Bruce left after Surf's Up.

For Beach Boys tracks, after Surf's Up, Bruce was on Marcella, California, Chapel of Love, Just Once In My Life, and I'll Bet He's Nice. He was also on Good Time and Susie Cincinnati, but those were recorded before he left. When he rejoined, Brian was passing out in parks in San Diego and living like a vagrant. So in Bruce's head, Til I Die definitely stands out as the last great Brian song. Love You and Adult/Child do not strike me as albums Bruce would like. MIU does seem like something Bruce would actually like, but since it went nowhere, I don't think Bruce is familiar with it. Bruce is focused on the business and that's why he and Mike are still partners; they have the same financial goal. 

As for Brian's solo stuff, I really don't think the rest of the band ever listened to it. Brian said they gave him a quick congrats on his 1988 album before starting a business meeting. I think this meeting might also be the same one that's transcribed in Mike's book. I'm guessing they knew a few songs; the ones promoted and played live. Mike trashed the album in Goldmine; saying that Brian sounded like sh*t, compared to what Brian is capable of sounding like. Mike also was aware of Sweet Insanity, but it might be he only knew the name of the project. I wonder what Carl thought of the 1988 album. It must have been hard for the guys in some sense; seeing Brian create again, but it doesn't sound like Brian of old and it's under Landy, the guy they forced Brian to go back to in 1982. They saw how Landy had his grips on Brian by 1988; I bet some of them felt some guilt at getting Brian into that situation. 

There's a European interview with Carl from 1989 that someone translated into English, and he discusses Brian's 88 album. He seems to have liked it, singling out "Let It Shine" as a favorite. I think he goes on to describe not liking Landy's lyrics, citing specifically the "I'm master of my fate, when I accelerate" line from "In My Car" off the "Still Cruisin'" album.

I think back in 1988, the other guys probably did listen to Brian's album, if for no other reason than to be more snippy and pointed in criticizing it, especially Mike, because during those last few years of the Landy era, some of the other guys got more direct and pointed in criticizing Brian and Landy, especially after the "autobiography" came out.

The other guys certainly had varying levels of familiarity with what was going on with Brian. During the infamous 1992 Goldmine interview, Mike is asked about "Sweet Insanity." Mike professes not to have heard it, and seems to not even know whether the album had come out or not. He seems to scoff simply at using that title for the album.

By the 2000s/2010s in more divisive times when they were more separated/estranged from each other and Mike, for instance, would profess to not listen to, say, Brian's 2004 "Smile" or Brian and Al's "Sail Away" in 2015, I think that does sound more plausible (though I do remain somewhat skeptical).
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2021, 06:55:02 AM »

I dunno. I mean, there's a million easy ways to tear apart that Bruce interview or his weird hot/cold opinions about Brian, or fans, etc. Mike and Bruce sitting back with arms folded in the EH documentary declaring at what point they feel Brian "lost it" is not their finest moment. I think they have a subjective insight into that that few do; I mean, they seem bummed that Brian seemed less prolific. They aren't happy to announce it. But it's still not tactful, and it does ignore other great material and, particularly in Mike's case, seemed back in 1998 to solidify the idea that Mike had little interest in post-1966-ish material outside of "Kokomo."

I think an argument could perhaps be made that Brian never wrote a *better* song than "'Til I Die" after he did that song.

But yeah, it's obviously difficult to pin down what "great" is. That word is more easily used by some than others. I think to some "great" just means "that's a really good song, I dig that one", while others mean "GREAT" as in like a master work.
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2021, 11:10:38 AM »

Big talk to a guy who was better at being a beach boy knock off before becoming a beach boy. Then hardly contributing songs. Him and Al have got to be some of the luckiest musicians of all time.


Just a reminder that both worked their a$$es of for the Beach Boys to succeed. Not everyone can be a Brian Wilson.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2021, 01:42:22 PM »

Doesn't Bruce's quote about "Til I Die" come from the late 70s? I'm dimly recalling it being in the first edition of David Leaf's book.

Maybe he should be queried about the tracks from TWGMTR, some of which he sang on...there are some very fine songs to be found there, approaching if not absolutely achieving "greatness."
I think it comes from the "Endless Harmony" documentary.

I'm still thinking that in the EH doc Bruce was simply quoting himself from an earlier interview with David Leaf. Does anyone have a copy of either version of it handy to see if they can track it down? My copy isn't readily available to me right now. Bruce was interviewed rather extensively by David in 1977, while he was still outside the BBs orbit. I recall a quote from him in a picture caption where he was quoted as saying he was the "Albert Speer of the Beach Boys"--a comment that folks found rather amusing back then but would likely recoil in horror from in our professionally over-reactive present day.
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2021, 03:02:15 PM »

I'm still thinking that in the EH doc Bruce was simply quoting himself from an earlier interview with David Leaf. Does anyone have a copy of either version of it handy to see if they can track it down? My copy isn't readily available to me right now. Bruce was interviewed rather extensively by David in 1977, while he was still outside the BBs orbit. I recall a quote from him in a picture caption where he was quoted as saying he was the "Albert Speer of the Beach Boys"--a comment that folks found rather amusing back then but would likely recoil in horror from in our professionally over-reactive present day.

Correct you are - it arises in Leaf's book, in the context of Bruce discussing his involvement in the completion of the song "Surf's Up":

"I remember thinking, 'Well, if I voice this chord into Brian's part from the end of Carl's part, it'll sound okay and no on will know about it.' We ended up doing vocals to sort of emulate ourselves without Brian Wilson, which was kind of silly." [paragraph break, Bruce quote continues:] 'And yet, the last great Brian Wilson song was on that album. "Til I Die." I remember Brian playing it for the band and one member of the band didn't understand it and put it down, and Brian just decided not to show it to us for a few months. He just put it away. I mean, he was absolutely crushed. This other person just didn't like it, but Brian cut it anyway. I think that song was pretty meaningful in expressing where he was at that point in time. I think it's his heaviest song, even though I'm probably wrong.'" Source: Leaf California Myth book, 1978 edition, p. 144.

As Brian himself noted during this era, a "song" is not the same as a "record":  In the 1970 Sunflower-era Rolling Stone article penned by Jack Rieley, "Surf's Up" comes up and Brian says he prefers to keep "Surf's Up" (in its then-current state) as a "song" rather than make it into a "record."   Bruce (who, like others in Leaf's book was speaking relatively freely and honestly in those days) could very well be correct in his assessment of "Til I Die" if it's judged as a record  for which you put headphones on and listen to. But as a song?  Maybe in 1978 Bruce was correct, but in later times Brian wrote "Love and Mercy" which is as good a song as "Til I Die" and it's arguably the greatest song of Brian's career (though not necessarily his "best" song or most enjoyable to listen to). Brian himself obviously thinks very highly of "Love and Mercy" - it wasn't a hit, nobody was ever clamoring for him to perform it, yet he always performed it throughout his solo career.
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« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2021, 08:29:03 AM »

I'm still thinking that in the EH doc Bruce was simply quoting himself from an earlier interview with David Leaf. Does anyone have a copy of either version of it handy to see if they can track it down? My copy isn't readily available to me right now. Bruce was interviewed rather extensively by David in 1977, while he was still outside the BBs orbit. I recall a quote from him in a picture caption where he was quoted as saying he was the "Albert Speer of the Beach Boys"--a comment that folks found rather amusing back then but would likely recoil in horror from in our professionally over-reactive present day.

Correct you are - it arises in Leaf's book, in the context of Bruce discussing his involvement in the completion of the song "Surf's Up":

"I remember thinking, 'Well, if I voice this chord into Brian's part from the end of Carl's part, it'll sound okay and no on will know about it.' We ended up doing vocals to sort of emulate ourselves without Brian Wilson, which was kind of silly." [paragraph break, Bruce quote continues:] 'And yet, the last great Brian Wilson song was on that album. "Til I Die." I remember Brian playing it for the band and one member of the band didn't understand it and put it down, and Brian just decided not to show it to us for a few months. He just put it away. I mean, he was absolutely crushed. This other person just didn't like it, but Brian cut it anyway. I think that song was pretty meaningful in expressing where he was at that point in time. I think it's his heaviest song, even though I'm probably wrong.'" Source: Leaf California Myth book, 1978 edition, p. 144.

As Brian himself noted during this era, a "song" is not the same as a "record":  In the 1970 Sunflower-era Rolling Stone article penned by Jack Rieley, "Surf's Up" comes up and Brian says he prefers to keep "Surf's Up" (in its then-current state) as a "song" rather than make it into a "record."   Bruce (who, like others in Leaf's book was speaking relatively freely and honestly in those days) could very well be correct in his assessment of "Til I Die" if it's judged as a record  for which you put headphones on and listen to. But as a song?  Maybe in 1978 Bruce was correct, but in later times Brian wrote "Love and Mercy" which is as good a song as "Til I Die" and it's arguably the greatest song of Brian's career (though not necessarily his "best" song or most enjoyable to listen to). Brian himself obviously thinks very highly of "Love and Mercy" - it wasn't a hit, nobody was ever clamoring for him to perform it, yet he always performed it throughout his solo career.

Thank you for putting it into context. When a quote is dangled out there or singled out like this, the context becomes even more important.


And speaking of that context, we can look at the full quote itself: So a band member put the song down, the criticism crushed Brian, and Brian put the song away for months. Then he recorded it anyway and that band member didn't like it.

Was this in reference to what we've heard about Mike calling the song "Til I Die" and its lyrics a "downer"? Or did another band member also slag off on the song?

Hmmm....

Well, whoever that band member is was wrong...the song, especially that one moment where it transitions from the first part into the glorious tag and vocal round via a lone falsetto and a change in chords to go into that swirling mass of vocal lines in the repeated tag is one of the most transcendent and crushing moments in popular music of the past 100 years in my opinion.

And it wouldn't be the first time in this band's checkered history were Brian bares his soul through his music, brings it to the band, and gets met with apprehension or outright criticism and rejection...while the music itself goes on to become some of the most praised and loved music of its era, released and unreleased.

That's another context to explore...
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