EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally published on October 17th, 2013
1. Don’t tell anyone but I always cry at Brian Wilson concerts. His music — Pet Sounds in particular — is just so ineffably sad and beautiful. His life is so sad and tragic, albeit with a reasonably happy ending. I’ve seen him perform live nearly a dozen times. Whenever the opportunity arises I jump on it because every show could be his last. Or mine, for that matter. I always promise myself I’m not going to cry this time but I always do. Tuesday night at The Beacon Theater it was “I’m Waiting For The Day” that started the water works. By the time we got to “God Only Knows” I’m sobbing violently, like Stimpy The Cat back in the day. Real men cry when they hear Pet Sounds, right? Oh fuck yeah.
2. Brian Wilson concerts make me feel young. As a token Gen Xer in a roomful of putrefying Baby Boomers, how could I not? That’s because Brian Wilson concerts are where white people go to die. As afterlifes go, you could do a lot worse. (Example, the Iron Maiden Afterlife, anyone?) But I shan’t be smug about this. I’ll get there soon enough.
Please kill me before that happens. Lord, help me.
3. Julian Assange is now playing percussion in the Brian Wilson band. Or a dude that looks just like Benedict Cumberbatch in The Fifth Estate from 30 yards away. He played like a mofo, too. Multi-tasking on tambourine, sleigh bells, shakers, rattlers and rollers, etc. All the while data dumping 10,000 pages of U.S. State Department cables onto the Internet before “I Know There’s An Answer” even got to the bridge.
4. Glenn Beck blows horn in the Brian Wilson band. Or someone who looks just like him. If only I wasn’t kidding, and Beck used all that hot air for good instead of evil.
5. When Brian Wilson’s manager tells you that ‘You have to go to the New York show’ it’s going to be epic — Blondie is gonna be there. She doesn’t mean Debbie Harry and Co., she means Blondie Chaplin, a holdover from the Beach Boys’ brief experiment in integration in the 70s. Supposedly he quit the band because Mike Love was such a raging asshole. Tuesday night he came out for the first coupla songs, sang “Wild Honey” and then disappeared during Pet Sounds only to return for the obligatory hot-rods-and-surf-boards Greatest Hits montage encore. I didn’t check, but I hope to God they didn’t have him selling T-shirts out in the lobby in between.
6. When Brian Wilson’s manager texts you that “It’s gonna b a killer show…they are doing songs with Beck.” Turns out she doesn’t mean Odelay Beck. She means Jeff Beck. No thanks. Unless he’s gonna do the entire Yardbirds songbook.
7. When Brian Wilson’s manager texts you have to go to the New York show because “Brian wants to do Pet Sounds and [the evil preacher man from There Will Be Blood] Paul Dano who is playing him in the bio pic is doing surfs up like he does in the movie. It’s spot on, he’s the real deal.” And then you go to the show and he’s standing next to you the whole time (which is a little weird, because the last time you saw him, Daniel Day-Lewis was bashing his fucking brains out with a bowling pin) — turns out that means, for whatever reason, it’s not gonna happen.
8. Glad to see that, unlike Mike Love, Al Jardine is sticking by Brian’s side. Not that he has many other options, but still. His voice still sounds great and he still has that weird rhomboidal head — like one of those old Popeye cartoons where Bluto slams a water pitcher over Popeye’s head and then pulls it off and Popeye’s head is shaped like a water pitcher. Plus, he always struck me as a decent person, unlike other members of the band mentioned in the previous sentence that are not named Brian.
9. The drummer in the Brian Wilson band looks JUST like Brian circa Pet Sounds/Smile — same soft, round face, same Little Lord Fauntleroy haircut — which is pretty weird but kinda cool. Great drummer. Hell, the whole band is great. I could listen to them play the phonebook.
10. After a decades long bedroom hermitage of madness, addiction and obesity, Brian is, at the very least, back on his feet. He no longer has the Beach Boys’ honeyed voices to carry his tunes, and his once-golden voice, tarnished by years of excess, is now a bare, ruined choir of one. However, he is backed these days by an exceptionally fluent 10-piece band that can replicate the sunbeam glory of those Beach Boys harmonies and recreate Pet Sounds down to the last ornate sonic detail, forming a lush, precision music machine that cloaks Wilson in a Disneyesque bubble of sound. Sail on, sailor. — JONATHAN VALANIA
Actor Paul Dano, Brian Wilson concert, NYC, 10/16/13 BY JONATHAN VALANIA
THE GUARDIAN: The long-mooted biopic of musician and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson is finally taking shape, with reports emerging that There Will Be Blood actor Paul Dano has been cast as Wilson in the early part of his career. The project, currently titled Love and Mercy, is set to range widely over Wilson’s life and work, which began with a blaze of glory in the 60s with surfer-pop act the Beach Boys, before the cancellation of the Smile album in 1967 and Wilson’s subsequent battles with mental illness and drug addiction. Wilson finally debuted Smile in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 2004, which presaged a fully fledged career revival. The movie was first announced a year ago by producer-director Bill Pohlad, whose most recent project was the Terrence Malick-directed The Tree of Life. Pohlad will direct Love and Mercy from a script by Oren Moverman, who wrote the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. MORE
RELATED: Love and Mercy is an upcoming American biographical film about singer-songwriter Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys directed by Bill Pohlad. It will feature Paul Dano and John Cusack playing the young and old Brian Wilson, respectively, and with Elizabeth Banks playing Wilsons second wife, Melinda. Paul Giamatti has also been cast as the controversial therapist Eugene Landy, who played a major part in Wilsons life during the 1970s and 1980s.MORE
PREVIOUSLY: LIFE OF BRIAN: A Q&A w/ The Beach Boys Auteur
Great BBC special on Pet Sounds.