updateSince I wrote this post in 2011, I discovered a documentary, Brian Wilson – I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times (1995) directed by Don Was. It looks at both the early years of The Beach Boys, and his bad years of substance abuse and recovery. It includes interviews with Brian and the Wilson family.

In June 2015, attention turned again to Brian’s life with the release of a dramatic film interpretation of that period around the making of the classic Pet Sounds album. Love and Mercy (the title is taken from a song on one of Brian’s solo albums) should probably be viewed along with the documentary to get a fuller picture of that period. Paul Dano portrays the young Brian and John Cusack plays the older Brian in the film and Cusack has recommended the biopic as a “companion piece” to the documentary.

original post: January 2011


Brian looking very much like “The Dude”

“Well, I’m lying in bed just like Brian Wilson did.”

So, I posted online as my “status” this weekend that I had a Brian Wilson kind of day. Never got out of my robe. Ate junk food. Sang harmony with myself in my room.

It got a few Facebook “likes” which makes me think that people don’t know what that kind of day is all about.

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys had a high note in 1966 when they released the Pet Sounds album. It’s the album that Paul McCartney said is his “favorite album of all time.” But Brian went into deepening seclusion in the late 60s and early 70s.

I love that album. It has some very happy songs. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” kicks right off on a high and keeps going. I never really liked “Sloop John B.” from that album but it was a hit and an up tempo tune.

But you can hear the sadness creeping into the album too. I most identified with “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.”

“They say I got brains
But they ain’t doing me no good
I wish they could
Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good going for myself
But what goes wrong
Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
Can’t find nothing I can put my heart and soul into

I remember reading some long Rolling Stone articles about his drug use, overeating and depression. The part that I really connected with was that he spent days, weeks, months in bed. He lived in his robe.

I know the feeling. When I had my worst days, weeks and months, it was when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Under the covers was one of the only places I felt safe.

Brian got connected with the controversial psychiatrist Eugene Landy around 1976. It seems like that may have screwed him up even worse, but eventually Brian got dressed, went outside and started producing records again. Landy moved his piano into a giant sandbox that was constructed in his living room to inspire him. He wrote “Surf’s Up” there. (see comment below)

I was thinking about Brian this weekend and listening to some of his music. And when I searched online for a photo to use of Brian in his robe, I came across a number of related articles.  I also came across another blogger, Charlie, who also went through his Brian phase.

Turns out he also got some relief hearing the song “Brian Wilson” by Bare Naked Ladies.

So I’m lying here, just staring at the ceiling tiles.

and I’m thinking about what to think about.

Just listening and relistening to Smiley Smile

and I’m wondering if this is some kind of creative drought

I never quite understood why, but I know that whenever I am depressed, I tend to listen to depressing music. Maybe it’s just that you can’t stomach “happy” music right then and just identify with the sadness. Maybe you want to go down deeper until there is nowhere left to go but up.

Well, I’m lying in bed just like Brian Wilson did.

That particular song isn’t a real downer. It’s hopeful in the end and pulls out of the dive, like Brian did –

And if you want to find me I’ll be out in the sandbox,

wondering where the hell all the love has gone.

Playing my guitar and building castles in the sun,

and singing “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

A song that always brings me down to the bottom of the well is Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” from his eponymous album.
How sad is this verse?

Lonely, lonely

Tin can at my feet

Think I’ll kick it down the street

That’s the way to treat a friend

And yet that is how it feels then.

It’s late now. It’s night, but it’s really morning. I haven’t made it into bed yet, unless the couch and a blanket counts. In a few hours, I have to go to work.

Or maybe I’ll be out in the sandbox. In my robe. Just like Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson, Official Site http://www.brianwilson.com