Wilson Finally Smiles
By Rory Flynn
Decades have gone by and myths regarding a famed lost Beach Boys' album have grown to legendary proportions. However, almost 40 years late, Brian Wilson is finally giving the world something to "SMiLE" about.
It was back in 1967, when Martin Luther King Jr. was still fighting for civil rights and young American men were fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, that the 24-year old Brain Wilson led his band into the studios to record a follow up to Pet Sounds. Those that heard these famed Beach Boys sessions were amazed at what Wilson, the mastermind of the group, had composed. Many said it would forever change the landscape of American music.
Despite a set release date, marketing campaign, and even printed liner notes, SmiLE never made it on to record store shelves. In fact, the album that Wilson said "was way too advanced [for the 60s]" was never released. Some tracks like "Our Prayer" and "Cabin Essence" were later released on 20-20 that gave fans a glimpse of how SMiLE sounded.
Wilson would often remark that finishing SMiLE would be like raising the Titanic. And who could blame him, his two brothers were dead and he himself was battling drug addiction. Yet fans still wondered would have been.
In late 2003, Wilson decided that "the world was finally ready for SMiLE," announcing that he and his band would bring SMiLE to life for six shows at London's famed Royal Festival Hall. "I was terrified. I really didn't know how it would go over," said Wilson about his feelings prior to taking stage at the first show on February 20, 2004. Wilson added, "But after the first song, I knew it was going to be ok. We got a standing ovation all six nights."
After such rave reviews at the London shows, Wilson and his bandmates along with the Stockholm Strings N' Horns went into the studio to record SMiLE, though he had no prior intentions to do so. "I didn't know if we'd finish it" said Wilson, but to the delights of fans across the globe, SMiLE was finally released this past fall. When comparing this album to what may have been in 1967, Wilson said, "It sounds much better now because the musicians are better than in the 60s."
SMiLE, which Wilson called, "a happy jovial album that is a teenage symphony to God," is truly a masterpiece. The complexity of the arrangements, coupled with the lyrics of Van Dyke Parks, and a steady track progression leaves listeners in awe. It is an album that Wilson feels "will stand the test of time."
"It means so much to me" said Wilson about SMiLE. However, now that it's finally out to the public, is his career complete? "I don't know about 'complete' but I am glad it's done. I still have albums I want to make. I'll never stop making music. I want to make a rock n' roll album next." said Wilson.
Until then, Wilson is bringing SMiLE alive on tour, with a summer leg of the tour starting in Boston on August 9. About the show at the Bank of America Pavilion, Wilson said, "We love Boston. The fans are great and we are looking forward to playing with them."
Wilson was interviewed for this feature. He will play SMiLE at the Bank of
America Pavilion in Boston on Tuesday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available