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Jim Clark
12-21-2004, 09:55 AM
Going back to the RS 500 greatest songs issue I raised the idea that Brian Wilson had perhaps selected what I considered to be an inordinate amount of his songs as the best ever. Of course I didn't actually have the list available and my memory is anything but picture perfect. Well, I saw the issue at the gym yesterday and I can post his official list of his top ten songs of all time and you can judge for yourself.

1. Be My Baby - The Ronettes
2. You've Lost That Loving Feeling - The Righteous Brothers
3. Walking In The Rain - The Ronettes
4. Da Doo Ron Ron - The Crystals
5. River Deep-Mountain High - Ike and Tina Turner
6. California Girls - The Beach Boys
7. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
8. Do It Again - The Beach Boys
9. I Get Around - The Beach Boys
10. Surfer Girl - The Beach Boys

I think Troy pegged it with "jag off".


12-21-2004, 09:59 AM
That guy is such a mess . . .

I saw a new doc about him finishing Smile and preping for the tour on Showtime and the man is a mental wreck. Completely out of touch with reality.

Finch Platte
12-21-2004, 07:13 PM
That guy is such a mess . . . Completely out of touch with reality.

Sounds like Prez Shrub.

Btw, I got your disc the other day. Can't bring myself to review it. I'd really like to remain friends. :eek:


12-22-2004, 07:31 AM
That guy is such a mess . . .

I saw a new doc about him finishing Smile and preping for the tour on Showtime and the man is a mental wreck. Completely out of touch with reality.
When I first saw this documentary almost 2 months ago. Thank God above I wasn't playing bass on that session. Watching this film is like watching torture. I really feel for the guy but I felt most for the poor musicans tasked with trying to make sense of this rambling mess of a project and it's equally defective Ahab. Sigh, what a waste of so much effort, time and good will.

Da Worfster :rolleyes:

12-22-2004, 08:22 AM
Btw, I got your disc the other day. Can't bring myself to review it. I'd really like to remain friends. :eek:


Jim Clark
12-22-2004, 08:35 AM
another thing I learned from this thread, aside from FP being a girly boy, is that if you type Brain Wilson rather than Brian Wilson, you can't necessarily go back and fix it.

On a possibly related note, Mensa has rejected my application yet again.


12-22-2004, 12:21 PM
I know you're probably expecting to get a rise out of me. Well, I'll take a little bait. If you think he's a jerk because he listed so many of his own tunes, hey, whatever. It does seem like a bit of a curious move...but he's always maintained his own personal affection for what he considers to be the best of his work. He does genuinely feel that way. I'm not thrilled by his list, but it's consistent with what he's always said, not that that means anything.

Interesting comment from Worf about the Wondermints guys...I don't know, those guys have always gushed about working with BW. Beyond people like that, though, I just don't see much from people who don't think that BW is necessarily as damaged as the way everyone always claims he is. I didn't see the documentary...but I have seen The Beach Boys: It's OK, The Beach Boys: An American Band, I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, Endless Harmony, the Beach Boys A&E Bio, the E! True Hollywood Story on the Beach Boys, and one or two other things including both made-for-TV movies. I've also seen him on Howard Stern & various other interviews. I thought it was very interesting, the conversation he was having with Elvis Costello on the DVD of Mayor Of The Sunset Strip (the Rodney Bingenheimer doc, which I HIGHLY recommend to anyone who gives a crap about pop music over the past 40 years or so), and also watching him on Letterman when he was promoting Imagination a few years ago. He looked like a deer caught in headlights on that appearance, like he'd rather be anywhere else. It does vary. But you're talking about a human being who is profoundly disturbed.

In spite of that, while I might not go for Jon Paley or Don Was' spin that he's a completely normal, functional human being, he happens to be a music-maker who's been quite active over the past few years, after 25 years of very off-again, on-again, very inconsistent work. 15 years ago I never would've thought that he'd go back & complete SMiLE. Or 10 years ago. Or ONE year ago. Like it or not, I defy anyone to point to any pop music that's remotely similar that had been done prior to 1966. If you don't like it, you probably don't care, but if you're a music fan, you're being disingenuous by not giving credit where it's due. As I do to bands I loathe because I at least recognize that they were known for this & that when they did whatever they did, even if it's not my cup of tea.

It could be that you guys know some of the backstory, or even all of it. The details of what happened with Eugene Landy, the impact it had on BW when his father SOLD HIS CATALOG of songs, the interaction with Charles Manson, the precipitous fall from popularity, the ridiculousness of the Beach Boys' management situation, the dysfunctional home & family life, the fact that the guy spent a lot of time in bed for several years & blew up to like 300 pounds or something like that. Excuses? Perhaps. None of this addresses listing so many of his own tunes.

But the one factor I would cite in any discussion when anyone's going to label BW a jagoff? Not the mental illness, not the drug abuse, not the crappy solo albums, not the dearth of good material going back more than 30 years at this point. No, the one thing I would point to is Mike Love. You wanna talk about a jagoff? After 45 years of dealing with this guy, (and this is based only on what I've read, not because I have any firsthand personal knowledge...though I have communicated with people who do) listing yr own tunes on a Rolling Stone list isn't all most people would be doing as far as behavior that others would label as coming from a jagoff. Hell, John Lennon punched a cocktail waitress, but he's thought of as a saint, no?

I've listed some of the more outrageous moves Mike Love has made in discussions about the BBs from time to time, and I have no desire to get into it here unless someone genuinely wants to know. But what was done with SMiLE particularly is a sore point with me. When the BBs needed a song, this one or that one was plucked to fill out albums once they reached a point where they needed material due to their own lack of creativity. Yet in EVERY single piece of footage I've ever seen that was Beach Boys-sanctioned, SMiLE was consciously made to look like a complete & utter mess. Now...go to the Beach Boys site & try to find ANY mention that SMiLE came out this year.

Now, if you're someone who doesn't really care & isn't a BBs fan & doesn't care beyond the appearance that BW looks like a jagoff on the basis of his list (yet looks like a shambling wreck whenever anyone sees him), then that itself may not even mean much. But just think about that one for a second. I think many of you have heard the praise for SMiLE over the years--not just this year, but in the past, from so many who have heard it. Whether or not you agree, think about it, for just a second, as an album that would have been as great & as important as nobodies like me, and rock stars as well, have been saying it would have been...for years. Now consider that the Beach Boys site has no mention of it. Think about what kind of nonsense must exist for that to be the case. And then think about what kind of jagoff moves you yrself might make if you were in this guy's shoes.

In the end, regardless of how questionable this is, BW's legacy is pretty secure; he's still the guy who was arguably the most talented, visionary, & creative studio mind of all time, and with one deaf ear; the guy who built his band into a unit that became more popular than the Beatles in Great Britain the same year that the Beatles put out the album that now tops lists as their best (Revolver). And if you still think it's such a jagoff move that you're not willing to give the guy a couple of inches of slack, then think that. But even if you don't like the music I suspect you might not think that if you were familiar with some of the things that have been revealed in bios over the years.

Jim Clark
12-22-2004, 12:54 PM
So J, if I were to be so bold as to attempt to boil that post down to simple message would it be incorrect to say that you think there are bigger jagoffs with fewer credentials? I'd buy that, and yet I've never seen anything quite like this. I seriously doubt anyone has-ever. BTW, there is no bait here. It's a timely and factual bit that relates directly to the music world. From my end certainly wasn't intended to be a moritorium on Smile. It was however directly related to (in more ways than one) the RS 500 greatest songs list that was discussed not too long ago. Of course that's when I first mentioned that I thought it was odd, at best.

Here's something else that we can agree on: "None of this addresses listing so many of his own tunes." Amen to that.


12-22-2004, 01:27 PM
What's interesting to me about the list is how he really seems enamored of a very specific style. Are they all Phil Spector productions besides his own?

He could afford to spread the wealth a bit, but I do love those old girl groups.

He seems like a nut to me the few times I've seen or heard him. Seems kinda pompus to list so many of his own songs, but hey, at least he saved them for the last five instead of the first.

Worse crimes to be sure, just a really odd list.

I haven't heard Smile and don't really care much one way or another as I'm not really a fan, a few singles here and there is about all I ever need, but is it a bit off to compare Smile only to work released when it was conceived? He's the one that waited, for whatever reason, to finish it. I say compare the old boots to stuff that came out then, but if he wants to release an album in 2004, he's gotta be held up to the standards of the time.

12-22-2004, 01:55 PM
....but if he wants to release an album in 2004, he's gotta be held up to the standards of the time.
What do you mean by that last bit? The standards of 2004? I don't get it. The album is almost universally loved by the critics, but how can you separate it from its rich history? That's part of the charm right now - but eventually the history will be forgotten to a certain extent and the music will either stand or fall on its own. I think the writer at Tiny Mix Tapes said it very well in their year end list...In fifteen years, SMiLE will neither be looked at as a creation of the '60s nor one of the 2000s, but as one of the interval between those two eras. And so SMiLE has in a way done the impossible: cheated time.

12-22-2004, 02:11 PM
I guess what I mean is when J said it was great in part because it sounded like nothing that had come out yet in 1060 whatever, I just don't but that. It did not come out in 1966. It came out in 2004. So, no points for originality because he finally put something out in 2004 that would have been an innovation in 1966.

12-22-2004, 02:19 PM
I'd say it's the opposite: time cheated SMiLE, not the other way around.

To be honest I don't have a great perspective on trying to compare SMiLE to 2004 standards. I can't say it doesn't get lost in a heap of not-very-good hip-hop, a jillion bands that sound like XTC/GOF/JD/whoever, the new Bjork, retro rock, mall punk, dance pop, techno, patriotic country music, etc. etc. Having listened to the boots so many times I'm just not sure how someone who's never heard it & is listening with what I'd refer to as 2004 ears is going to judge. I kinda agree with nobody, the album does need to be evaluated alongside what's out now, or, I should say, it will be. It's too bad that some of the people who either haven't heard the boots or just don't like it likely don't know the history behind it, because it might alter how they would think about the record, but...that's what you get for letting yr masterpiece sit on the shelf for 37 years because you were being a pussy, genius. Of course, it wasn't just being a pussy, it was then-undiagnosed mental illness exacerbated by drug abuse & emotional abuse. Can you imagine, you're him, & yr prick father sells yr f*cking songs?

I also think a lot of people listen to Beach Boys songs the same way they did when they first heard them, usually when they were younger, they don't always listen beneath the surface and/or think about what's really going on there. Some do, obviously, but when I went back & really listened to the stuff I well remembered from when I was a kid--just a few years ago--I was terminally blown away by what I heard & had never considered or thought about before. It's a staggering body of work. Is the list weird? Sure. Jagoff? That to me is a black-and-white judgment based on merely the black & the white in a situation where there's a ton of gray areas that aren't apparent when you're looking at what appears to be a mighty conceited list. It's a complicated situation.

In case y'all think I'm being defensive about this because I'm a BW fan...I'm not, because I can kinda understand what yr getting at. All I'm trying to say is that there's so much more to this guy that it's kinda unfair to pigeonhole his list as the work of a jagoff. That's all. Believe me, if I met Brian Wilson & engaged him in a conversation about rap music I might well think he was a jagoff too, albeit for different reasons. He's kinda in the 'rap is not music' camp, so there'd be a WORLD of disagreement there for me.

12-22-2004, 02:29 PM
I'd say it's the opposite: time cheated SMiLE, not the other way around.

To be honest I don't have a great perspective on trying to compare SMiLE to 2004 standards. I can't say it doesn't get lost in a heap of not-very-good hip-hop, a jillion bands that sound like XTC/GOF/JD/whoever, the new Bjork, retro rock, mall punk, dance pop, techno, patriotic country music, etc. etc.
Well, I think the fact that it has been universally lauded by all the indie type ezines and magazines this year shows you that it does stack up well against the standards of today, in no small part because that same sound has been so much a part of indie pop for the last 10-15 years. But it does come with a nice story too, sort of like Wilco's YHF a few years ago. The innovation is still there in the music, regardless of whether the tapes sat in the vault (both physically and metaphorically) for the last 35 years.

12-22-2004, 03:56 PM
Hiya J,

Don't be so sensitive for 'ol BW.

Not a fan of Smile. I have a boot that you sent me years ago and I never connected with it. Love Pet Sounds tho.

The man IS a shambling mess.

I think it's really strange to pick mainly your own songs when you're compiling a list of favorite songs. It's like he didn't understand the question. Or he's a jagoff.

You need to see that doc . . .

12-23-2004, 07:26 AM
I'm not dissing BW choices for the list. I could care less about lists. I think his choices were interesting with all the pre-Beatles girl groups on there. I watched this documentary on the remaking or finishing Smile and only that. I was looking at it from the standpoint of a guy who's had to try and interpret a producer's or songwriter's desires for a song before while the clock was running and it's a painful experience at best. This project was far worse from that standpoint. That's the ONLY thing I was saying... I don't know if the documentary was edited to make BW look bad or not.. I just flinched a lot as things went downhill. I'm sure I was bringing a lot of my own baggage to this viewing...

That's all I was saying... I may disagree with you on the importance of some of BWs work but not on the value of his musical legacy of some of true masterpieces he wrote and produced.

Da Worfster :cool:

12-24-2004, 12:43 PM
Its not that I blame Brian Wilson for being Brian Wilson, but the guy is being propt-up as the all-time pop genius, and I'm not so sure he is/was that at all. I don't hate the Beach Boys at all, I just put them in the same catergory as other surf/pop acts of the day (like Jan & Dean). Both Pet Sounds and Smile sound so dated to me and don't hold up as well as others, like The Beatles' Revolver and Rubber Soul. To me, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane is as much a 'genius' as Wilson.

But MGH does have a point, the guy has had the misfortune of being surrounded by tools; his dad for one, and Mike Love for another. Talk about someone who would never have had a career in music if it weren't for being a relative to Brian Wilson.

12-24-2004, 01:43 PM
For the most part, American rock bands, as we know them, didn't really exist before the Beach Boys. There may be a marginal exception to that here or there, but they were a new breed, and pioneers in more ways than one. There have been people who have loudly questioned BW's position as all-pioneering pop genius (most notably Jann Wenner in an early RS editorial in 1967), and they've struck some good points at times, but unless you take the POV that Phil Spector was a superior producer--dubious at best--I don't see how anyone could deny BW the credit for what he did in the studio. What he did poked & prodded the Beatles (who have given ample credit, especially McCartney; Here, There & Everywhere was unquestionably inspired by Pet Sounds, just as aspects of Sgt. Pepper seem inspired by SMiLE) & helped to change the way rock music was recorded.

The AMG bio covers a lot of bases; check it out. I have no quibble with anyone who doesn't buy into the BW = genius thing, but I think it's good if they at least have an idea of what he did & how ahead of his time he really was. If SMiLE sounds dated, then I'd like to know what you're listening to, because I've never heard anything like Fire or even Cabinessence, before or since. (Fire doesn't come across as well, at least dynamically, on the new release, which is one of the problems I have w/it, but it's still pretty unusual & stands out to me as completely unique & original--and not dated)

On the other hand, if you're going to compare Jan & Dean to BW...J&D were around first, but they didn't do 'surf music' prior to the Beach Boys, and don't forget, 'Surf City,' their first #1 hit, was BW's tune. Props to them for turning BW on to the Wrecking Crew, but are you seriously going to compare their bodies of work? And Paul Kantner? I don't see the basis for comparison. These guys wrote five-part harmonies? They were doing 9th chords in pop music prior to BW? Please, point me to these recordings. I'm not familiar with them.

12-28-2004, 12:32 PM
...but is it a bit off to compare Smile only to work released when it was conceived? He's the one that waited, for whatever reason, to finish it. I say compare the old boots to stuff that came out then, but if he wants to release an album in 2004, he's gotta be held up to the standards of the time.

Yeah, except there's not a heck of a lot of difference between the two versions in a strict musical sense. The new one is better recorded and has a stunningly logical sequence that legions of Smile fans never hit upon in their own mix-and-match versions but about 98% of the music is identical.

A few more thoughts I had when I read this thread: Is Brian off his rocker? No, he knows what he's doing. Sure, he's on about 5 anti-depressants and requires constant watching but, hey, Clapton can't be left alone either. I don't see anybody romanticizing about Eric being let out of the straight jacket long enough to propped up before the crowd. It's not accurate to think of B. Wilson in this manner but I suppose it's good for a giggle. Is Brian a genius? That's a sorely overworked term in pop music but I agree with George Martin, he's the closest thing to a genius pop music ever produced. But the real suprise with Smile is something no one could've predicted: it works as an amazing piece of music onstage, it's almost taken on a life of its own much like the Who's Tommy and a few other rare gems in rock history. Imagine that. The mythological lost studio project that became a knockout on the road. Whoulda thunk it?