Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas, Brian Wilson!

Yesterday, I heard an NPR review of the latest Beach Boys box set, Made in California. The review was honest, fair, and somewhat somber.  Thoughts of the Beach Boys' music is usually anything but somber, but a critical view of their 51 years as a band leaves one thinking about those early bloomers that we all have known-- like the basketball player who (arriving at 6' tall in the 8th grade while everyone else is 5'6") dominates for a season or two and then spends the next four years in athletic decline.

Yes, it's somewhat sad that the kings of surf music for the most part ran out of creative steam in the late-60's and did their best to ride the wave of the early hits as long as possible.  Regardless, no one can argue against the fact that the band responsible for Surfin' Safari and Pet Sounds is one of the most influential groups of all Americana. The harmonious sound they crafted became their brand, and echos of that sound continue to show up in songs, in a subliminal attempt to capture that wide-eyed, youthful vibe.

As the review wrapped up, and I pondered what could have been if Brian Wilson had remained well and able to develop as a creative artist, I again felt a little mournful for the band whose sound projected fun, but whose story reflects tragedy.  I thought about their influence on Mike Roe who wrote a tribute  of sorts with his band-mates in The Lost Dogs.  I thought about the incredible blog post Ben Shive wrote two years ago about Smile for the Rabbit Room. I thought about the hundreds of times that I've sung along with those harmonies and smiled.  All that to say, Merry Christmas, Brian Wilson.  Thank you and the rest of the band for giving America 51
years of music to enjoy.

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