Thursday, November 09, 2006

He's A Doll (Part 2)


By Michael DeMartin

Despite some posters' questioning the Brian action figure, the collectible sold like hotcakes at Brian's show at UCLA last week. Because it's become such a hot item, the doll (being a limited edition) will be sold exclusively at Brian's shows, and not online as had been planned. Most likely, the Brian-signed boxed dolls will be sold out on the tour, but there may be un-signed boxes left to sell online after the tour. It's a bummer for fans not able to attend shows who want the autographed version, but it looks like the demand will more than meet the supply. Good news for those who will have purchased it, because it really does make it an instant collector's item. I wonder how much these will go for on eBay?

By the way, how cool would it be to have dolls from each facet of Brian's career. I'd love to have a 1976 doll myself...

P.S. The picture above is Brian signing 150 boxes last week. You gotta hand it to Brian: it's a lot to ask someone to do this leading up to a show, but then he's always been a gracious guy. This also authenticates the signed boxes!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

He's A Doll


By Michael DeMartin

OK, at first I was skeptical ... a Brian Wilson 1966 doll? Why? Well, why not - if it's done right? Last week, we put up information about the doll - err - action figure on Brian's website and I was surprised by the reaction. Some people were happy to hear about it and ready to pony up $75 for the doll in a box and $150 for an autographed version. Sounds like a lot, but these are a very limited edition, and surely they'll be collectors items before long.

There were more than a few negative posts on Brian's message board about the doll: many wondered about preserving Brian's dignity, etc. And, of course, there was one wiseguy who wondered aloud when there would be a Taylor Mills blowup doll (Taylor, if you don't know, is the ridiculously beautiful singer in Brian's band). Plus, the composite photos on the site do not exactly reflect the quality of the product - which is actually beautifully crafted. If you're a fan of Pet Sounds and know the photos of Brian at the Zoo photo shoot with the other Beach Boys, you'll be impressed that Brian's coat and pants are perfectly accurate to those photos.

Fact is, it's a beautiful collectible, and I really would recommend it. People have been asking how they can buy it, and here's what's happening. We're in the process of setting up a shopping cart with PayPal, and this should be ready to go by very early next week. If there is still any doubt about its quality, we're having some professional photos that will put it to rest (the photo above is one I took in our office with a digital camera). We'll also have an address if you don't want to purchase it online.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Bonus Episode "Good Vibrations"

Bonus Episode: “Good Vibrations”
This is one of the strongest episodes we produced in the entire series. In fact, when Mike and I went to meet our colleagues at Capitol we prepared a mock up of a video podcast version of “Good Vibrations” to use as an example of what a Pet Sounds podcast series could be like. We even set it up to play via mobile streaming as well as an ipod, etc. It was really cool. So, it was fitting at the end of the series to develop a “bonus” episode especially for “Good Vibrations.”

This episode is set up like the song. It is organized into parts – each part follows the person talking and music used sort of blends in and out. The nearly 8 minute-episode offers some of the best Brian Wilson material we recorded during our two-hour session with him. Mike Love tells a long and great story too. Al offers a small chunk of trivia while Bruce caps everything off as he did during most of the podcast series. I guess if I had to pick one episode to play for someone as a great example of this work I would select this one. Enjoy!

Jv / 10.10.06

Monday, October 09, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episodes 11, 12 & 13

Episode 11: “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”
We used the first vocal verse of the tune at the head and then transitioned into backing instrumental track for most of the episode. Mike Love has choice material to say about Brian Wilson here. Al offers deep insight followed by Bruce’s thoughts.

Episode 12: “Pet Sounds”
This episode is all Brian. We used the original track. The story speaks for itself.

Episode 13: “Caroline No”
This was a fun episode to assemble. We open with an old promo joke featuring a young Mike and Bruce and then launch into instrumental backing track and then the stories from Brian, Mike and Bruce. We conclude with the original track with first verse of vocal.

Jv / 10.9.06

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pet Sounds: How Many Can There Be?

By Andrew Doe

It's been asked recently, and repeatedly, "just how many reissues of PET SOUNDS do we need ?"; to which my answer is, "how many can there be ?" I'm sitting in my study, and on a shelf to my right sits my BB CD collection. It's a long shelf, over five feet and it's stacked high (granted, some of the discs aren't what you'd call legal releases), and in there somewhere are maybe five versions of PET SOUNDS on CD, not forgetting the 4CD SESSIONS box and the DVDA reissue, of course. And now, in front of me as I type, is the 40th Anniversary CD/DVD 'fuzzy cover' reissue. It sounds great, of course, feels good and looks good too (a few niggling - and one major - errors in the liners aside), but the thing is, there's hardly anything in this package that I've not already got... so why buy - again ? The pat answer is simple - I'm a fan and 'fan' is a contraction of 'fanatic'. So much for that. But it goes deeper than this: PET SOUNDS exerts an attraction that's almost visceral in its intensity... somehow I'm drawn to the album, perhaps because I know what's inside the package. That this is the 40th anniversary edition of probably the best album ever released in the field of rock & pop is reason to buy one more time, but not reason enough. In truth, I bought it because I had to, because of who I am, and more importantly, because of what it is. Because, in the final analysis, you can never have too much of a good thing - and it doesn't get much better than PET SOUNDS

Pet Sounds: More, More, More


By Michael DeMartin

Alan Dean sent me this link to a very cool webpage by noted author Jim Fusilli, who writes for The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Jim also has a book about Pet Sounds from his page, which of course, I'll now have to buy. Here's an excerpt from the webpage. To read the whole thing, click on the title of this post and you'll be taken there...

I arrived in the green room at the Javits Center in New York, the panel's site, to find the 62-year-old Wilson sitting in a corner with his eyes closed, hands folded on his chest. Rather than disturb him, I conferred with one of his managers who assured me he was up for the event and could handle any question. The only caveat: I was to sit to his left so I could whisper in his good ear, if I had to. (Wilson is deaf in his right ear, the result, it's said, of a blow from his father he received when he was two years old.) Moments later, as the manager prepared him for the event, I noticed she kept referred to me as "the big guy." "Listen to the big guy, Brian," she said repeatedly, referencing my waistline, not my height. When I gently asked her to stop, she said, "OK, but he'll never remember your name." ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episodes 9 & 10

Episode 9: “I Know There’s An Answer” (Hang On To Your Ego)

We used the straight instrumental backing track on this episode. We conclude with a taste of the original “groovy” track. The weird thing about this episode is that originally Mike refused to sing on it because of the drug-type lyrics so they had to be changed. And when we interviewed Mike Love about this track, something happened with the source recording and his answers and we just lost his talk. We still can’t figure out what exactly occurred but it was very strange. Perhaps this is the way it just had to be on this tune!

Episode 10: “Here Today”

We open with the original track and then fade out and then bring up the instrumental backing track for the Boys’ talk. We enjoyed Mike Love singing the lines and realizing that those notes were a bit high for him – Brian often referred to Mike as having a “masculine voice” – then, Mike finishes his part with a philosophical thought. Bruce described the creative instrumental break in the middle as well as complimenting Brian on his musical magic. We lead out with the chorus and then into the instrumental part Bruce just discussed. No Al featured here. A short but fun episode to cut.

Jv / 9.26.06

Monday, September 18, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episode 8


It seems that we knew when the time came to create the “God Only Knows” podcast episode, it would have to be something very special. It is, perhaps, the crown jewel of the Pet Sounds album as well as one of the greatest pop songs ever written and our challenge was to tell a compelling story about the track thru the Boys own words and also present the music in a context that would be fresh but also respectful to the original. In fact, throughout all of the Pet Sounds podcast series, we were very careful to always present the music in the utmost light while also creatively piecing the music together in a new way. And, “God Only Know” is a very good example of this approach and style. The episode opens with the vocal-only first verse (Carl Wilson sounding brilliant) and then we cut into the backing track for all of the narrative and then conclude with the final vocal-only chorus that emphasizes what Bruce describes in his discussion. Such an amazing song!

Jv / 9.18.06

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Brian Wilson Pet Sounds Tour Dates


By Michael DeMartin

Ironically, Brian's Official Website is often not the first to have tour information, and it's a little frustrating to a lot of fans - including me. The truth is no official dates can be put up until everything is finalized and the contracts are signed. So, as a result, other sites have the dates up first. For instance, Brian's band has a page on MySpace.com and they had the Tour dates up last week. Now, the dates were accurate, but they weren't official, so those in charge were made to remove them immediately - and this came from the top.

Now, the dates are official, although there still are a few holes. There are four Northeast dates in November (featuring Al Jardine) but no information is up yet for Washington, D.C. on November 18. Tickets are available for November 17 in MA, November 19 in PA, and tickets for New York's November 21 Beacon Theatre show will be on sale on September 29. Don't say you heard it here that there may be a second New York date, but that's it. No more shows ... but never say never ...

For complete tour information, etc. visit http://www.brianwilson.com

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A (Partial) Beach Boys Pet Sounds Reunion!


By Michael DeMartin

Well, it's almost a dream come true. Al Jardine will be joining Brian on his upcoming Pet Sounds tour dates later this year. I've been told that Brian and Al had become friends again awhile back, so these shows will be even more special with Al involved. Should be interesting what Al does, since he didn't sing any leads on Pet Sounds. But his unique voice will sure make the backgrounds cool, and I wouldn't be surprised if Brian threw him the "Sloop John B" lead. It would be cool for Mike and Bruce to come on for these special dates, but that's not gonna happen. In any case, here's the official info that appears in today's USA TODAY:

Two Beach Boys to reunite

Last week I was asked about the possibilities of a Beach Boys reunion. Now we have at least a partial one.

Brian Wilson will be playing five dates in November to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (which some, although not Mike Love, have argued is virtually a Brian solo work). Those dates: Nov. 1 in L.A.; Nov. 17 in Boston; Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C.; Nov. 19 in Glenside, Pa.; and Nov. 21 in New York. On the last four of these dates (and maybe the first one; it's not firm yet), former Beach Boy Al Jardine will join Wilson, the first time in over a decade that they've shared a stage. A few West Coast shows might be added afterward.

It's also billed as the last time Wilson will perform Pet Sounds in its entirety, so it may well be quite an occasion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episodes 5, 6 & 7


Episode 5: “I’m Waiting For The Day”
This simple episode used the backing track and contains a brief story line from Brian and then a nice overview from Mike Love. We stressed the timpani drums section and then back to the backing music part for Al and then into Bruce. We conclude playing the first verse of the original track.

Episode 6: “Let’s Go Away For A While”
This short piece features the original track. We opened at the top and then edited into the horn section toward the end. Brian said a lot off mike about this track but was sort of shy when we started to record his interview. In fact, we talked for a bit about the Burt Bacharach feel on that particular cut. He then went on to talk about a new track he was writing with Burt. Anyways, you have Brian discussing the tune from a musical point of view and then, Mike giving a short reaction.

Episode 7: “Sloop John B”All of the guys essentially said the same thing here. It is great to hear them tell their own version of the story which is why we left it all in. As Brian states it is a solid cut from the Boys – all around great music, arrangement and singing. But as Bruce points out, the track (maybe) didn’t belong on Pet Sounds. I agree with Bruce on this and would have liked to seen “Good Vibrations” included instead – just my opinion here. This episode used session backing track and then original on the outro.

Jv / 09.12.06

Friday, September 08, 2006

Excellent Pitchfork Media Pet Sounds Review


By Michael DeMartin

Here's a great review of the new Pet Sounds reissue from Pitchfork Media. It might be the best one yet:

Oh come on, it's just Pet Sounds. Despite the fact that two or three generations of music fans will secretly believe you have no soul if you don't announce your allegiance to it, despite that you probably already own it (in some cases, two or three times over-- if I could only remember where I put my 24-carat gold CD version), or that you may even have written an article for Pitchfork years ago making fun of anyone who dared criticize it, well, that's no reason to feel any pressure to make sure it's displayed prominently for guests, or worry that you haven't met your monthly "God Only Knows" listening quota.

Despite (or because of) the "pressure" to adopt pro-Pet Sounds stances in today's high-powered world of hanging out with your friends or staying home and getting high whilst listening to "Let's Go Away For Awhile", I'd wager most people are only too happy not to discuss the merits of the oft-oft-reported Beach Boys masterpiece. Certainly, regardless of what I write here, the impact and "influence" of the record will have been in turn hardly influenced at all. I can't even get my dad to talk about Pet Sounds anymore.Oh come on, it's just Pet Sounds. Despite the fact that two or three generations of music fans will secretly believe you have no soul if you don't announce your allegiance to it, despite that you probably already own it (in some cases, two or three times over-- if I could only remember where I put my 24-carat gold CD version), or that you may even have written an article for Pitchfork years ago making fun of anyone who dared criticize it, well, that's no reason to feel any pressure to make sure it's displayed prominently for guests, or worry that you haven't met your monthly "God Only Knows" listening quota.

Despite (or because of) the "pressure" to adopt pro-Pet Sounds stances in today's high-powered world of hanging out with your friends or staying home and getting high whilst listening to "Let's Go Away For Awhile", I'd wager most people are only too happy not to discuss the merits of the oft-oft-reported Beach Boys masterpiece. Certainly, regardless of what I write here, the impact and "influence" of the record will have been in turn hardly influenced at all. I can't even get my dad to talk about Pet Sounds anymore.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO PITCHFORK MEDIA.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brian Wilson Pet Sounds ((LIVE)) Press Release

Brian Wilson Performs ‘Pet Sounds’ for the very last time in the UK

London, Thursday 7th September, Following the ecstatic reviews, ticket frenzy and extraordinary audience response that accompanied the historic first-ever performances of the ‘lost’ masterpiece, ‘SMiLE’ in 2004, the amazing ‘In Concert’ shows throughout 2005, Brian Wilson returns to the UK in November for what will be a poignant occasion. Brian Wilson will be playing a gig that will no doubt be talked about in rock n roll history for years to come. The Co-Founder of The Beach Boys that is Brian Wilson, will be playing a one off show at London’s Adelphi Theatre on Sunday 12th November, and to celebrate its 40th Anniversary will be performing the Classic album ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety for the very last time in the UK.

The legendary writer, producer, arranger and performer of some of the most unforgettable and inspirational music in rock history, Wilson will again perform with his extraordinary ten-piece band.

These concerts mark Brian Wilson’s sixth return to the UK. The triumphant staging of ‘Pet Sounds’ in January 2002 was followed by a return visit for encore performances in June of that year. 2004 debut performances of ‘SMiLE’ attracted fans from all over the world including Sir Paul McCartney, George Martin, Paul Weller, Roger Daltrey, Natalie Imbruglia, Daniel Johns, Geoff Hoon, Greg Dyke, and Fran Healy of Travis.

Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys’ 12th studio album, is universally hailed as one of the most important recordings of all time. EMI Catalogue Marketing released it along with previously unseen dvd footage and unheard tracks on 28th August 2006 on this, the 40th anniversary of its original release. It will be available digitally (including video downloads), and the digital formats will also include bonus tracks.

He is one of popular music's most deeply revered figures, the main creative force behind some of the most cherished music in rock history. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to call Brian Wilson one of the most influential composers of the last century.

If you’ve seen Brian in concert, you’ve already witnessed the magic and the celebration. If you’ve heard his records, you know why he’s been called the Mozart of Rock, the Gershwin of his generation. In a culture where trends change overnight, Wilson has gone the distance.

Brian, after numerous nominations, finally won a well-deserved Grammy Award at the 47th annual awards last year, for ‘Best Rock Instrumental Performance’ for ‘Mrs.O’Leary’s Cow’.

What the critics have said:
“I have probably been to thousands of pop concerts in my life. But I have never felt anything like what I sensed here. - What I felt was love, waves of it, like heat’ – Evening Standard

‘Grown men wept as the 61-year-old performed a set of around 20 songs, including classics such as Wouldn't It Be Nice and California Girls. Wilson opened the sell-out concert with an intimate unplugged set accompanied by his 11-strong band.’ – BBC News

Pet Sounds accolades:
Sir Paul McCartney - It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life. I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album.

Eric Clapton - All of us, Ginger (Baker), Jack (Bruce), and I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everything that's ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one. Brian Wilson is, without a doubt, a pop genius.

Elton John - Pet Sounds is a landmark album. For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.

Sir George Martin - The first time I heard Pet Sounds, I got that kind of feeling that happens less and less as one gets older and more blasé…that moment when something comes along and blows your mind… It’s like falling in love - you’re swept away by it.

Mike Mills (R.E.M.) - One of the most beautiful and eternal pieces of music ever made. A personal favorite.

To be a part of history in the making you had better be quick to grab your ticket it’s only a small theatre….

Live Date 2006

Sunday 12th November Adelphi Theatre, London 0870 - 895 - 5598

24 hr cc hotline 0870 - 895 - 5598
Buy online: www.livenation.co.uk www.ticketrush.co.uk tickets and info to your mobile. All Tickets Subject To Booking Fees

Tickets go on sale Friday 8th September at 9am. £85, £75, £65, £40 (max 4 per person)

The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ 40th Anniversary album is out now on Capitol

www.brianwilson.com

Capitol Pet Sounds Press Release

THE BEACH BOYS’ PET SOUNDS: 40TH ANNIVERSARY PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL RELEASES HIT THE CHARTS AT BILLBOARD, iTUNES AND AMAZON.COM

Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary Released Digitally and Physically In CD, Deluxe CD/DVD and Double Colored Vinyl Packages

iTunes' Pet Sounds Podcast Series Tops Music Podcast Chart During Release Week

“The Beach Boys’ seminal album comes alive on its 40th anniversary…”
(The Los Angeles Times, 8/27/06)

Hollywood, California – September 6, 2006 – Forty years after its release debut, one of popular music’s most influential and universally-acclaimed albums, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, returns to Billboard’s chart and also makes a modern splash on the iTunes and Amazon.com charts. Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary, released physically and digitally by Capitol/EMI on August 29, charges Billboard’s Pop Catalog chart with its highest sales week ever in the SoundScan era, taking the #8 position for its first week in stores. It joins the group's double-platinum Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys (#10), making the Beach Boys the sole double entry in the chart’s Top 10. At Amazon.com, Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary charts at #28 for its debut week.

On the digital sales front, Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary, including a custom digital booklet with handwritten liner notes by the Beach Boys, debuted in iTunes' Top 100. In addition, iTunes’ eight-part Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary Podcast series reached iTunes’ #1 music Podcast position during the week of August 29, while also ranking among iTunes' Top 25 Podcasts overall. The iTunes “Podumentary,” scheduled in weekly episodes from August 22 to October 10, features new, exclusive interviews and never-before-told recollections about the recording of the landmark album from all four of the surviving members of the Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston.

The Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary CD package includes the album’s Mono and Stereo mixes and a bonus mono track, “Hang On To Your Ego” (an early version of the album’s “I Know There’s An Answer”), recorded during the Pet Sounds sessions but not included in the album’s original tracklist.. The deluxe, limited-edition suede-feel CD/DVD digipak features the classic album in Mono, Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Hi-Res 96kHz/24-bit PCM Stereo mixes, rare and previously unreleased promotional and documentary film footage, and a photo gallery of classic band images from the era. A deluxe, double colored vinyl package, limited to 10,000 numbered copies worldwide, presents Mono and Stereo mixes of Pet Sounds in a gatefold sleeve. Digitally, Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary is available from all major DSPs.

Other music legends and the media are hailing Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary as essential listening. Spin magazine has bestowed its highest five-star rating on the new CD/DVD package, while The Los Angeles Times calls the deluxe edition “a highly engaging celebration.”

“It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water… I love the album so much. I’ve just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life - I figure no one is educated musically ‘til they’ve heard that album.” - Paul McCartney

Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys’ 12th studio album is universally regarded as one of the most important recordings of all time. Since its original May 16, 1966 release, the studio masterpiece has reigned at the top of countless critic and fan polls, and four decades later, the visionary album maintains its timeless rank as one of popular music’s most-cited influences. More than 100 domestic and international publications and journalists have lauded Pet Sounds as one of the greatest albums ever recorded. In 1995, Pet Sounds topped MOJO magazine’s special issue “The Greatest Albums of All Time” at #1, while in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Pet Sounds at #2 in the magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary deluxe, limited-edition suede-feel CD/DVD digipak package includes a DVD with six film and video cuts, including a behind-the-scenes documentary, “The Making Of Pet Sounds;” “Pet Stories,” featuring interviews with Brian Wilson, lyricist Tony Asher and members of the original “wrecking crew” Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Don Randi, Frankie Capp and Tommy Morgan; the never-before-released 1966 promotional color ‘firehouse’ film clip for “Good Vibrations;” original 1966 promotional black & white film clips for “Sloop John B” and Pet Sounds, and an excerpt from the unreleased BBC television documentary, “Rhythm of Life,” in which Sir George Martin joins Brian Wilson in the studio for a discussion of the album’s musical significance. Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary’s DVD also contains a photo gallery set to the classic music of “God Only Knows” and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Hi-Res 96 kHz/24-bit PCM Stereo audio mixes of the album plus a Hi-Res 96 kHz/24-bit PCM Mono mix of bonus track “Hang On To Your Ego.”

Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary’s commemorative double colored vinyl is limited to 10,000 numbered copies worldwide. Presented in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, the album’s Mono mix on yellow vinyl is complemented by the Stereo mix on green vinyl.

“Good Vibrations,” named the “#1 Greatest Single of All Time” by MOJO magazine and the “#6 Greatest Song of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine, is a timeless musical treasure. The “Good Vibrations: 40th Anniversary” CD single, released June 27 in a limited edition digipak, features five different versions of the timeless Beach Boys hit, including the original 45 single version, an edit of the song with elements from various sessions, an alternate studio take, an instrumental and a live version from a Honolulu rehearsal in August, 1967 that was originally intended for the lost album Lei’d in Hawaii, as well as the single’s original U.S. B-side, “Let’s Go Away For Awhile.” The single’s original U.S. cover art appears on the front of the CD single, with various international single covers replicated within the package.

www.thebeachboys.com / www.petsounds.com

Brian Playing Pet Sounds LIVE - The Last Time(s)


By Michael DeMartin

As we know, Brian will be playing Pet Sounds in its entirety on November 1 at UCLA's Royce Hall (see post below). Now, from unnamed sources, I understand that Brian may also be performing Pet Sounds at a few other venues this year - and I mean just a few. Like maybe 6 or 8 and that's it. We're talking the U.S. and at least one in the U.K. I've been told that these shows WILL BE THE LAST TIME Brian performs this amazing album live.

I should have information on the U.K. show later today. Psst ... I hear it's at the Adelphi Theatre on Sunday, November 12 at 9:00pm. Tickets on sale this Friday. Check back later for more information ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episodes 3 & 4


Episode 3: “That’s Not Me”
This is a very simple episode and features the basic instrumental backing track with emphasis on the drums tom-tom feel. Mike Love adds some very nice flavor in his words. Then, we sequence into the original album version.

A note on the side, when Mike deMartin and I were interviewing Brian Wilson for this episode, he forgot that the tune featured just him and his brothers as the backing band. In fact, this is the only Beach Boys song where this actually occurred. Mike then reminded Brian to this fact, and then he stated what you hear on this podcast episode. After we wrapped that sequence up and stopped the recording device, Brian went on to talk about the actual session of the instrumental track whereby he played organ, Carl played guitar and Dennis played drums. He also mentioned how much he deeply misses both Carl and Dennis.

Episode 4: “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”
This is an interesting track in the way it sort of floats. Brian’s use of the organ really creates the mellow base and a kind of musical pillow effect. The constant cymbal pattern adds to the hypnotic rhythm and tempo setting and the vocal parts sort of glide on top of it. Then, as Bruce points out, the string parts add this beautiful layer to the entire song emphasizing the melodic content and pristine vocal parts and then it helps to build the song into the climax (hint: string bass and kettle drums). Here is where we really get a chance to hear young Brian Wilson showing us his true musical genius. The intricate orchestrations coupled by the simplistic rhythm tracks combine to almost sound like a large symphony orchestra in both volume and depth. And for such a simple pop track, the mutli-layers are inspiring and just brilliant. I ask, are we hearing anything like this in today’s music?

For the soundtrack we started with the original album track and then transition into the instrumental backing track and then fade. We then used the plain string parts and then transitioned into the original section where the strings and vocals are featured. This was one of the most difficult music beds we did for this series but in the end, it sure plays well and was worth the effort.

Jv / 9.5.06

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pet Sounds Podcast Hits #1!


By Michael DeMartin

How about that? The Pet Sounds Podcast Series has jumped to #1 on the iTunes Most Popular Music Podcast Charts. Something we never thought about, but it's great that fans are responding to the tune of literally thousands of streams per day. Of course we'd like to take credit for it, but really it's all about Pet Sounds and the incredible album that Brian put together with the boys. This album will live forever and no matter what configuration Capitol releases it in, we'll keep buying it.

Regarding the new package: It is really cool (I guess the green fuzzy cover is supposed to represent the Zoo) and the booket is great reading. The DVD is a lot of fun and though most of that content has been available before, it's great to have it in one place. Plus, Brian talking with George Martin about songwriting is worth the price of admission alone.

The package they're selling in iTunes is cool too: obviously there's no DVD (although you get a promo video you can watch on your video iPod) but they do have the box set up with all the alternate tracks as well as tracks-only and vocals-only versions. These are absolutely revelatory to those who haven't heard these tracks yet. Want to make records for a living? Just listen to this and it will have to inspire you - or make you want to quit making music forever.

Anyway, back to the Podcasts: Joe Vella (who co-produced) and I would like to thank the great guys at Capitol for letting us run wild with this. Thank you to Michael Ruthig, John Owen, Billy Smith for all your support and help. Thanks to Wendy and Dick at Toolshed for helping to get the word out. And, of course, thanks to Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce for being so supportive - you guys are the best.

But, stay tuned, because the series will continue to rollout throughout October 10 (see schedule at right) and the espiodes get better and better. Enjoy the Good Vibrations!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series - Episodes 1 & 2

Episode 1: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

In selecting the music for “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” we felt this episode, more than all others, needed to set the right tone to validate the entire podcast series. It seemed fitting to use the original studio intro by Brian and then the countdown from the great drummer Hal Blaine. We used the backing track under Brian’s discussion of the many instruments used on the song and then highlighted the bridge section after Brian’s talk – the music emphasizing what he just explained. Mike Love discussed the backing vocal process and Brian’s keen sense to detail – we brought in a backup vocal passage from the session tapes for that part. Al’s section also dealt with the amazing bridge of the tune as well as the dense backup vocals. Again, we used the basic backing track under his story. For Bruce’s part, we eventually fade backing track and leave quiet until we close the episode with an excerpt from the original stereo version of the track.

Episode 2: “You Still Believe In Me”

This episode was really straight-forward to track. We just used the backing track and then original. This episode is short and to the point. The highlight here is in Mike Love’s emotional comments and philosophical wisdom. Al is not featured on this episode. Bruce also caps it off with several choice inside comments. We go out with a small piece of the completed stereo track.

Jv / 8.28.06

Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary Contest on Lighthearted Boy Blog


By Michael DeMartin

Cool blog post and contest information on Largehearted Boy. Here's the first paragaph:

I have not always been a fan of the Beach Boys. I remember going music shopping with my brother years ago, and having little spending money in our pockets (we were 10 & 11 at the time), we decided to dig through the bargain bins. My brother chose the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and I chose Neil Young's soundtrack album, Journey Through the Past. Even at that young age, I sensed we were moving in two different musical directions.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO LARGEHEARTED BOY BLOG AND CONTEST.

Bullz-Eye Pet Sounds Review


By Michael DeMartin

A great review (5-stars) of the new Pet Sounds CD/DVD due tomorrow from Bullz-Eye, a really great site. Here's the first few paragraphs and a link to the complete article:

Wouldn’t it be nice if labels stopped reissuing classic albums over and over, each time adding a little some different to make the fans buy it once again? Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray, it might come true…but, in the meantime, it’s hard to complain too much about the 40th anniversary reissue of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

Capitol has done an exemplary job of making this particular reissue worth the fans’ while. Studio geeks will already have picked up the label’s multi-disc box set dedicated to the album, which offers the ins and outs of the creation of Brian Wilson’s masterpiece, but this provides a nice middle ground between the pre-existing single disc version and that four disc monstrosity. (Well, come on, let’s get real: you’ve pretty much gotta be some kind of 9th-level fanboy to love an album so much that you need four discs worth of it.) Included is the original album in mono, followed by the bonus track, “Hang on to Your Ego”; immediately following that, however, is the original album in stereo. Plus, there’s a bonus DVD enclosed this time around.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO BULLZ-EYE.

Pet Sounds Podcast Series Starts With A Bang


By Michael DeMartin

So far, so good. The first podcast episode of the series (Album Overview) is a hit on iTunes: It's #38 on the Top 100 of ALL podcasts and #6 on the TOP MUSIC podcasts. And, we're just getting started. Tomorrow, two more will be made available: "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "You Still Believe In Me." Suprisingly, Mike has some beautiful things to say about the latter, and if you listen closely, you can hear him choke up a little bit. Bruce's story about "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is very cool as well.

So, if you haven't checked out the Podcast series yet, click the link at right to subscribe to the series in iTunes, and the episodes will automatically download to your computer / iPod.

One more note: The Pet Sounds Podcast Series is also THE featured podcast in AOL music. Check 'em out!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bob Dylan on Record-Making and Brian Wilson


By Michael DeMartin

Only hard-core Brian fans know that he recorded a duet with Bob Dylan back in the eighties for Brian's song "The Spirit Of Rock And Roll." On the surface it seems like an odd pairing, but these two guys are arguably the most respected pop musicians of their times: Dylan for his lyrics and Brian for his music. Okay, the results weren't exactly magic, but it's kind of cool that these guys know and respect each other.

Anyway, here's what Dylan has to say in the brand-new Rolling Stone coming out. Truer words have never been spoken...

"The records I used to listen to and still love, you can't make a record that sounds that way," he explains. It is as if having taken his new material down to the crossroads of the recording studio Dylan isn't wholly sure the deal struck with the devil there was worth it. "Brian Wilson, he made all his records with four tracks, but you couldn't make his records if you had a hundred tracks today. We all like records that are played on record players, but let's face it, those days are gon-n-n-e. You do the best you can, you fight that technology in all kinds of ways, but I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really. You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like -- static. Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it. I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, 'Everybody's gettin' music for free.' I was like, 'Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.' ". . .

YOU CAN READ THE INTERVIEW BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO ROLLINGSTONE.COM

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Pet Sounds Post


By Michael DeMartin

A great blog review of the soon-to-be released Pet Sounds on Clicky Clicky Music Blog (how 'bout that for a name?) Here's the first paragraph, but it's well worth it to read the whole thing.

The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, originally released in 1966, holds an unassailable position in popular culture. That's what happens when your record is a substantial volley in what amounts to a musical arms race between your band and The Beatles. Besides the Beatles-related notoriety, Pet Sounds also benefits from its sheer existence, unlike the resuscitated "lost" album Smile, the recently released, official Brian Wilson version of which is not only revelatory but also hamstrung by not fulfilling the boundless universe of possibilities the actualization of a legendary unreleased record necessarily dispels. That sentence was a long way of saying that once Smile was finally defined as one thing with Nonesuch's 2004 release, it could no longer be everything else.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO CLICKY CLICKY

Pet Sounds on Vinyl


By Michael DeMartin

Just received the vinyl copy of Pet Sounds and it's amazing. I've had it on CD since it came out in 1990 but to see it on vinyl (as a two-record set) is a thrill. Big and beautiful with a gatefold with great photos along with album tracks and session information. The LP on the left sides is clear yellow and is the mono version. The LP on the right side is green and is the mono version. And, of course, both LPs have the original Capitol black round label in the middle with the rainbow border. Plus the back has the limited edition number (mine is 00051) and I hope Brian owns #00001! I don't know how readily available this will be in stores - I'm going to find out from Capitol where this can be purchased. I'm gonna have to dust off my old turntable and put it on. Wow - great package!

Pitchfork Media Pet Sounds Songs in Blog Post


By Michael DeMartin

Here's another really cool one: It's from Pitchfork Media and it's about "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s." This page has the Top 10 list, and I'll be damned if TWO - count'em - TWO songs from Pet Sounds are in there with some nicely written text.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO PITCHFORK MEDIA.

Culture Bully Pet Sounds Blog Post

By Michael DeMartin

Another cool Blog post from the folks at CULTURE BULLY. Here's an excerpt from their piece:

I fall into a different type of category in terms of Beach Boys listener, I’m a second generation semi-fan. My mom enjoys the band, casually, but my dad hates The Beach Boys with a passion. In some respect, I did too for the longest period of time while my tastes were maturing, horizons broadening, roots growing, and so on and so forth.

It is an interesting note that Brian Wilson’s commentary, in the supplemental DVD included in the upcoming release of the 40th Anniversary edition of Pet Sounds, likens the album to Sgt. Pepper’s, and more importantly Rubber Soul. When hearing Rubber Soul, he immediately went to his piano and began writing, attempting to recreate The Beatles’ forward thinking musical visualization and in doing so, he created Pet Sounds. For me those comments pertain to the closeness that I felt the band’s relationship for so many years, which ultimately lead me to staying as far away as possible from both The Beach Boys and The Beatles.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO CULTURE BULLY.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Introducing The Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary Podcast


By Michael DeMartin

Drum roll, please... We now have links to the very first episode in Capitol's brand-new Pet Sounds podcast series. This is an Alubm Overview introduced by Brian and features Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston talking about the landmark album. These are all-new interviews created specifically for the series and we know you'll dig the sounds. Note that this initial episode will also be available in Apple's iTunes by the time you read this.

Capitol said iTunes will is going to feature this series with a banner etc. in the Podcast section, but if you don't see it yet, just go to the Podcast section and type in "Beach Boys" and you'll get a link to the podcast page. Then, you can download the episode and subscribe to it - which means that you'll automatically get new episodes downloaded to your computer and iPod. How cool is that?

Here's the official line about the Podcast series from Capitol: The Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary Podcast is a 15-episode series documenting the making of the Beach Boys' seminal 1966 album. We invite you listen to its creator, Brian Wilson, and fellow Beach Boys Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston share their thoughts on making this landmark album. This 15-episode series includes an album overview, individual podcasts for each album track, as well as a bonus episode on the making of "Good Vibrations."

Note that the first episode (Album Overview) is available as a video podcast (really just a cool slideshow) and an audio podcast. The slideshow will look cool on your video iPod if you have one.

TO LISTEN TO THE FIRST EPISODE, CLICK ON THE LINK ON THE SIDEBAR AT RIGHT UNDER "PET SOUNDS PODCAST SERIES"

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

Kingblind Pet Sounds Blog Post


By Michael DeMartin

Type "Brian Wilson" into Google and you'll get about a million results - alot of them having to do with Pet Sounds. There are some really cool blogs out there that talk about Brian, and I've included a few here with links so you don't have to go searching. I want to preface this by saying it's pretty amazing that Pet Sounds is held in such high esteem by musicians across the board: from little-known alternative bands to classical musicians like Phillip Glass.

Anyway, here is the first one and it's from Kingblind "Music, Arts & Entertainment."

As a Beach Boys’ fanatic, what could be more serendipitous than sharing your 40th birthday with their greatest achievement? I mean “Pet Sounds” is arguably the best album ever to be released, and Capitol is once again dusting it off and parading it around. And why not? I’m sure you fellow fans already own this album many times over. The gorgeous box set that was released a few years back is probably the cornerstone of your collection. But hear me out. If not for your own good, then for the good of all the kids who don’t yet own this gem.

To bring everyone up to speed, Brian Wilson wrote this album as an answer to The Beatles “Rubber Soul”. It was a massive shift in direction for the Beach Boys, who everyone had written off as the best in a slew of surf bands. With the rest of the Boys on tour, Brian, alongside lyricist Tony Asher, composed a masterpiece that altered the parameters of pop music. It also created an irreparable divide in the Beach Boys camp, as some of them feared the shift from songs about cars and girls to what they deemed was nonsense. The record company felt the very same. Regardless, “Pet Sounds” has not only stood the test of time, but influences musicians to this day. What would our world sound like without this gem? Could we survive in a world without R.E.M., The Teenage Fanclub, The Flaming Lips, The Pixies, heck, even The Posies? Well sure we could. But what a better place this planet has been with them. And all of them have been influenced by this album in some way.

YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE TEXT BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE OF THIS POST. IT WILL TAKE YOU TO KINGBLIND.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Soundtracking the Pet Sounds Podcast Series

Pet Sounds Podcast Music Overview Notes >

Selecting the music for the Pet Sounds podcast series was a challenge given that most of the music is well known throughout the world. My task was to find new ways to showcase the brilliance of this album while following the Pet Sounds story as told by Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston. I didn’t want to play it safe by showcasing familiar excerpts at the beginning and then at the end of each episode but rather, construct customized soundtracks per each podcast that carefully followed the story, used all available material and also highlighted the outstanding music.

Pet Sounds Overview Podcast Episode Notes >

Mike deMartin and I felt that the first podcast of the series should really be strong and a special kind of celebration of Pet Sounds (using both words and music). Our goal was to honor Brian Wilson for his musical genius, the Pet Sounds album 40 years later and the Beach Boys. And as much as the album and characters have been written about, we also wanted to do something different. We sort of looked upon this project as presenting Pet Sounds to an entirely new “digital” audience.

My aim with the soundtrack was to first find a piece of music that would totally capture the Pet Sounds project in “spirit” and knowing we had Brian welcoming everyone at the top of the episode, I just couldn’t hear anything other than the intro to “God Only Knows” and then the backing track. I then added the “God Only...” vocal-only tag to bookend Brian’s intro sort of keeping this part of the episode sacred.

For the Mike Love section, the instrumental “Pet Sounds” worked perfect. The percussive intro, strong horns and harsh guitar notes just got things moving into the text and storyline. Here, Love is paying a fond tribute to Brian as well as telling the story of the album’s title. The background music also provides energy into the piece and series. I then used a small section from the track “Trombone Dixie” to transition into Al Jardine’s narrative (the sleigh bells and tempo are key for mood – I liked the really upbeat feel) and then blended it into the backing track from “You Still Believe In Me” – Al mentions that the music on Pet Sounds was a “vocal symphony” and “You Still…” really does have a classical order to it and that supported what he was talking about musically very well.

“Here Today” works right into the Bruce Johnston section. We then move into “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (hint – listen to what Bruce says here – the music supports the statements perfectly) and then we go out of the episode with the stereo version of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – there are a couple of reasons why I selected this number. It is the first song on Pet Sounds and showcases the use of twelve string guitars, accordions and the Boys’ golden voices and it introduces the first song podcast episode (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice’”) that will be live 8/29 in conjunction with the official release of the Capitol Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary Collection.

Enjoy – Jv / 8.21.06

Monday, August 14, 2006

All This Is That


By Michael deMartin

Quick note to thank Peter for his post below and for the excerpt from his great new book "Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson." I just finished it this weekend, and I think it's the one book you need to have that documents Brian's life and music. There are a few stories in there I never heard that had me laughing out loud - it's a great, great read. Also, if you've ever been to the website http://www.ultimatecharts.com, they have a poll on the top albums of all-time and Pet Sounds is at #1 (right ahead of the Beatles' Revolver, Michael Jackson's Thriller and Elvis' Elvis Presley. Also wild is that Brian's own SMiLE is #13. Pretty cool to say the least.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hello from 'Catch a Wave' central

Hi: I'm Peter, the guy who wrote the new book, "Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson", newly published by Rodale and available wherever fine books, and others, are sold.

Michael invited me to check in here on his PS blog and add a thought or two, so here I am. I'll put up a few things in the next little while, much of it drawn from the text of 'CAW.' Which is where we begin today, with a brief extract from the fifth chapter, which recounts the beginnings of the collaboration between Brian and Tony Asher, and something of their creative process.

Much more of the same story -- along with the whole Brian Wilson story, music criticism and cultural analysis -- fills the rest of "Catch A Wave," of which more (reviews! pics! authorial musings!) at peteramescarlin.com.

Oh, and if it turns out that you're an Angeleno, or at least will be among them on Aug 17, I'll be reading from the book at Book Soup on Sunset Blvd at 7 pm that evening.

So here we go....return with me now to the fall of 1965....


BRIAN WENT BACK to his piano, where he could disappear into himself and transform his anxieties and inspiration into music that went beyond anything he’d ever done before. Beyond anything anyone had ever done before. Emotional music; religious music, even. "It all starts with religion," he said in one 1966 interview that went on to connect his sense of faith with the way he could transform his feelings into beautiful sounds. "A lot of the songs are the results of emotional experiences, sadness and pain¼I find it possible to spill melodies, beautiful melodies, in moments of great despair. This is one of the wonderful things about this art form."

But if Brian had one weakness as a songwriter, he felt, it was expressing his feelings verbally. And though his songs almost always revolved around his feelings and ideas, he most often depended upon collaborators to transform his simply-stated notions into lyrics. Better yet, Brian’s collaborators served as a sounding board, not just for his musical ideas, but for all the other whims and fancies that caromed through his mind. And the more he began to think about this new album, the more Brian understood that he would need a new partner to help write the new songs. Someone who was articulate and sensitive, who had nothing to do with his family, or any previous Beach Boys record. Talking one day with Loren Schwartz, Brian was reminded of Tony Asher, a youngish advertising executive he’d seen at the evening parties in his friend’s Hollywood apartment. Interestingly, Asher – who wrote jingles for the Carson-Scott advertising agency, and often recorded them at Western Recorders – had actually introduced Brian to Loren back in January, 1963.

"He was my best friend at Santa Monica High School," Schwartz says. "His mother was Laura LaPlante, a famous silent film actress, and his dad, Irving Asher, was a big movie executive. They lived in a big mansion on Maple Drive, with a real English butler. He played good piano, was a student of modern jazz and arranging and was very clever with words." Indeed, Asher was an urbane, well-to-do bachelor who was well-read and preferred jazz to rock. But if Asher didn’t buy rock records for his collection, he listened to it on the radio and had long since come to appreciate the complexity and power of the Beach Boys’ singles. "When a new song of theirs came on the radio, I’d think: Goddammit, they did it again!" Asher recalls. "I had great respect and admiration for them and for Brian, but I didn’t own any of their albums. I was buying Bill Evans albums."

Perhaps that’s why Brian – who often made his most important decisions based on gut reactions – knew that Asher was exactly the guy he was looking for. He called him at the office one day in December, 1965, explaining that he had an album to make, and needed a new sound for the lyrics. "He said, ‘I want this to be completely different. I don’t want to write with anyone I’ve written with before,’" Asher remembers. Once Asher was confident the voice on the other end was indeed the head Beach Boy and not a friend prank calling him from down the hall, he accepted the collaboration offer on the spot. Securing a three week leave of absence from his bosses at Carson-Scott, Asher packed up some yellow legal pads and pencils and drove up to Brian’s house in Beverly Hills to begin his unexpected, exciting task.

The first assignment was atypical, as it turns out. After showing Asher around his house, Brian took him into his small music room, where he played him an acetate of a finished track he’d recorded for an echoing, circular song titled "In My Childhood." Brian already had a set of lyrics that fit with the tune’s sweet, vaguely melancholy sound and quirky textural effects (a bicycle horn and bell). But he didn’t like his lyrics anymore, and wanted to adapt the tune to another concept. What he had in mind for the new album, Asher recalls, had nothing to do with the Beatles or any kind of rock ‘n’ roll. "Brian had defined it as wanting to write something closer to classical American love songs, like Cole Porter or Rodgers & Hammerstein," he says. Brian asked Asher what his favorite songs were, and when it turned out the Beach Boy hadn’t even heard of the romantic jazz ballad "Stella by Starlight," Asher sat at the piano and played it for him. "He was totally blown away. He hadn’t heard it before, and he loved it."

Brian, in turn, dubbed a tape copy of "In My Childhood," and sent Asher home to write new words. Asher came back the next day with the lyrics to "You Still Believe in Me" sketched out on his yellow legal pad. For reasons he can’t quite remember, Asher felt no doubt that Brian would approve of what he had done. "Ordinarily I’m not that self-confident," he says. "But I guess I’d already learned that he was insecure, too, and he didn’t know what he wanted, either." But Brian knew he liked the new words, and so from that moment their collaboration began in earnest. Most days, Asher would get to Brian’s house at about 10 a.m., only to wait for his partner to roust himself from bed and get something to eat. That could take anywhere from one to three hours, during which they’d start chatting about whatever was on their minds. "We’d have like a two or three-hour conversation that set a mood," Asher explains. "We’d ramble on about whatever: Girls we had dated, relationships we’d had, heartbreak and so on. And that we’d write within that mood. He’d play the piano for a while, and I’d sit with my yellow legal pad sketching out lyrics, and we’d be ignoring each other. Then we’d get together, tinkering with each other’s work."

The idea of young love – particularly the kind that resembled the intense crush he’d once had on Carol Mountain during high school – seemed to obsess Brian. "Those times when you’re young and you’d jump off a bridge for a girl, but then ten days later you’d be thinking the same thing about someone else," Asher says. "We were thinking about back when you’re just beginning to understand what love is, acknowledging that it’s immature, but still universal." Brian clearly fed off of the emotional intensity he recalled from those early relationships, which may be why he didn’t seem to recognize their inherent immaturity, or, for that matter, what his fascination for them said about the state of his grown-up relationship with Marilyn. As Tony recalls: "He was constantly looking at teenage girls. Which wasn’t like a 47-year-old looking at teenagers [Brian was 23]. But he thought they were all the most beautiful girl in the world. And he was married at the time, so it was fairly obvious he was confused about love."
Indeed, when Brian wasn’t rhapsodizing about the random young women he encountered in drive-in restaurants or on the street, he was fantasizing about his own sister-in-law. "He’d stop in the middle of writing a song, or a conversation or whatever, and start going on about Diane, about how innocent, sweet, and beautiful she was. I’d be thinking, huh! Your wife’s in the next room, and you’re talking about her sister!" Other times, he would flash back to Carol Mountain, to the point of tracking his classmate down to her new home, where he would telephone or even appear at odd hours, desperate to re-experience the thrill she gave him in high school. But Mountain, like Brian, was married, setting out on a life that had very little to do with the one she had lived in Hawthorne. This became the subject of another long conversation with Asher, and by the time they were done they had written "Caroline, No," the desolate ballad that would conclude the album.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Brian to Perform Pet Sounds LIVE


By Michael deMartin

Brian's playing a special concert at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus on November 1. It will be a 40th Anniversary celebration of Pet Sounds and the album will be performed live in its entirety. No question this will be a great show. When Brian turns it on, his performances can be special, so we can expect some magic. And anyone who's seen Brian live knows his band is out of this world. They're great musicians and singers and to perform this intricate work live so well is pretty astounding.

If you're anywhere near L.A., it's worth it - click on the title of this post for more information and to order tickets.

Speaking of live performances: Last night I took my family to see "The Beach Boys" at the Mohegan Theater in Conneciticut (we got tickets from their press guy who set up my interviews with Mike and Bruce for the podcast series). It was a little weird: Mike and Bruce and a bunch of young guys banging out the hits. Mike sounded pretty good but the sounds wasn't great and the band drowned him out. Bruce sounded good even though Mike made fun as he sang "I Write The Songs." They played three songs from Pet Sounds and the difference between their versions and Brian's band is big. Whereas Probyn plays a French Horn on the intro of "God Only Knows," the keyboard player plays a simulation on his synthesizer. Same with other instruments. Not that there's anything wrong with that - people were singing and dancing and having a good time. And, the place was filled to capacity and it was no small venue.

Mike and Bruce were cool afterwards - they said hi to our two 6-year olds and we chatted a little bit. Gotta give them credit - they've been doing this for over 40 years and they still sound like they're having fun, fun, fun.

Beach Boys 40th Anniversary Podcast Series


By Michael deMartin

We're just about complete with production for the Beach Boys 40th Anniversary Podcast series for Capitol Records. This is a joint production between myself and my company (Design Site) and Joe Vella and his company (Vella Interactive) and I think fans are gonna love it. For those hard-core fans, you might even learn a thing or two. Our interviews with Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce were cool and they had a good time talking about the album (separately). Each track on the album is its own podcast and the series starts off with an overview episode that is going to look totally cool on your video iPod. The others will be audio podcasts. We've also got a special bonus episode for "Good Vibrations" which is a lot of fun.

The Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary CD/DVD will be out August 29 so mark you calendar. Forget that Bob Dylan has a new album out that same day - this is the one to get. If you want to pre-order it on Amazon.com, click the Title above and you'll be taken there.

Catch A Wave: The Ultimate Brian/Beach Boys Biography?


By Michael deMartin

Yesterday I got Peter Ames Carlin's "Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson," and I haven't been able to put it down. I have to admit I was a little hesitant at first because I've read every Brian Wilson/Beach Boys book and it's been exhausting to say the least. But the cover (nice design) got my attention and so I figured I'd extend my record.

This thing is well-researched to say the least: apparently Peter's had hundreds of interviews with those close to the story and it shows. I thought I knew everything, but this book has a lot (so far) I never knew. Peter interviewed a lot of Brian's childhood friends - and their insight into Brian's youthful quirky personality is fascinating and you can better understand him as an adult. There are some really interesting passages about the Beach Boys in the seventies that are pretty jaw-dropping. It's just amazing that these guys made it through the seventies. If this stuff was made up, you'd never believe it.

Maybe because I'm reading it now, but dare I say this may be the ultimate Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biography? It's very well written, researched and really moves - you wish it could be twice as long. And again, there's loads of new stuff you probably never knew about Brian, as well as Mike, Dennis, Carl, Al and Bruce. David Leaf pioneered the trail with his tour de force, "The Beach Boys and the California Myth," but my only complaint is that it read like Heroes and Villains, where Brian is the hero and everyone else are the villains. Timothy White's "The Nearest Faraway Place" was beautifully written but it covered the California story as well as the Boys. Steven Gaine's The Beach Boys was trash - but I have to admit it was fun. The great thing about this book is its honest take on the Beach Boys story.

This book is well worth it for new and old fans alike. Pick it up - it is highly recommended. If you want more information or to buy it, click on the Title of this post and it will take you to the Amazon.com page.

NOTE: I contacted Peter and asked him to write something for this blog, so maybe we'll get something in the next few days or so. I told him he could promote the book, so I'm sure we'll see him soon ...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Capitol (Finally) Has A Good Beach Boys Web Site


By Michael deMartin

After years of indifference and outdated websites, the folks at Capitol have actually put up a site worthy of the Beach Boys. Nice photo of the Pet Sounds box set showing the whole package and vinyl and CDs et. I'm not sure of the significance of the felt green case on the CD, but it looks pretty cool. A good timeline too (although a little cumbersome). Photos are great - I wish these guys would release a coffee table book with everything they have from the vault... Check out the buddy icons - they're nice as well as a few screensavers, although the group shots without Brian are odd...

http://www.thebeachboys.com

Best thing of all?: They have a link to this site. Now that's a good idea. Here's the story: I put up this blog site because I felt news about the Beach Boys were lacking on the web. Plus, knowing and working with Brian might get me in the door to put some things up that fans might actually like. Well, before you know it, I'm at Capitol Records with Joe Vella (interactive and web pioneer, guru and all-around good guy) and we sell the guys on a podcast series to help get the Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary project out there to the fans - as well as to the kids who don't buy CDs anymore because they buy everything at iTunes.

The Capitol guys were great and they told us to run with it. Our concept was to produce a series of podcasts starting with an overview of Pet Sounds, 13 podcasts where each track is discussed, and a bonus episode for "Good Vibrations." We went over to Brian's house one afternoon to hang out with him and talk about Pet Sounds. You can read my blog about Brian below. Brian was great and we had a blast. Then, I talked with Mike and Bruce and they were cool too - you can read my blogs about them as well below. Capitol sent us a CD with a new interview from Al, so he'll be included as well. Right now, we're finishing up the work - and there's been a lot of it. Each interview had to be edited and then Joe had the (fun and laborous) task of putting the four guys together and (brilliantly) weaving the music in and out.

The podcasts sound fantastic and I think fans are gonna love them. The first two should be up front and center in iTunes in a few weeks and the rest will be rolled out weekly. Actually I think this is the first time the surviving Beach Boys have ever gone on (audio) record talking about Pet Sounds and each track specifically. Without blowing mine and Joe's horn, I think we're the first ones to produce such an extensive podcast series of this nature. There was a Springsteen podcast series for Born To Run earlier this year, but that was re-purposed from the DVD. This podcast series is totally original and we're very proud of it.

He Wrote the Song: Talking with Bruce Johnston


By Michael deMartin

Bruce Johnston is a guy I've wanted to talk with for awhile and I had the opportunity to do so recently. Bruce is a big fan of Brian's - and a humble guy considering he's written a lot of good songs over the years. He won a Grammy of "Song of the Year" I think in 1976 that Barry Manilow turned into a #1 smash hit, so that's saying something. Bruce also wrote a Beach Boys' favorite, "Disney Girls," a paeon to youth that's about as sublime as songs get. In any case, he told me right away "I'm really only a first violin - it's really Brian."

We talked about contemporary music, and while Bruce is current with things, he said while this generation has grooves and beats, "there's not much too sing." He mentioned "Killing Me Softly" by the Fugees as being a cool song, but of course that was written over 30 years ago.

He talked about "the world of Brian Wilson's melodies" and how Brian evolved so quickly before he got to Pet Sounds. Throughout our interview, Bruce was very carefully to include Mike Love when he talked about the Beach Boys songs. In part I guess because he feels Mike has been overlooked as a lyricist to some of the Beach Boys biggest hits, but also (I'm sure) because he performs every night with Mike as "The Beach Boys."

Bruce said Brian's songs still sound great because of primarily the songwriting, but also the arrangements, production and singing. When I asked Bruce what he thought were the greatest albums of all-time, he said "Pet Sounds IS the greatest album of all-time and it has nothing to do with Rock 'n Roll. It's just Brian being Debussy or Rachmaninoff in the mid-sixties. It's just a classic album that doesn't fit into the rock 'n roll genre to me - it's just so far above it."

Bruce said composers in the future will be inspired by Brian's melodies and arrangements and listen to how he put it all together separately from the songs. Bruce said he took Pet Sounds to England before its release and played it for Lennon and McCartney twice one night and they were both blown away. As the story goes, the Beatles knew that they had been topped and it inspired them to new heights with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band, released in 1967.

We started talking about the Pet Sounds tracks and Bruce said "You Still Believe in Me" was "heartwrenching" for him to listen to Brian sing it - most of us would have to agree. "That's Not Me" didn't knock him out; "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)" had an "amazing string arrangement" and recalled it having six strings on it. Bruce said "Let's Go Away For Awhile" "did nothing for me" which surprised me quite a bit. In my opinion, it may be Brian's very best instrumental ever.

Bruce loved "Sloop John B." but said flatly it didn't belong on the album "Wrong move by EMI. Right move by EMI to drive the album, but it does not fit on it." Interesting, because Brian made it very clear that he did want it on the album. I suppose after 40 years, memories fade a little bit.

Bruce said "Brian Wilson would be more of a God than he already is" if he had put "Good Vibrations" on the album and left out "Sloop John B." Interesting: could a perfect album be even more perfect? Bruce talked about "God Only Knows" and how Brian originally had a big chorus at the end including Terry Melcher (this alternate track can be heard on the Pet Sounds box set). After Carl sang the lead, he was tired and went home. So the beautiful, circular trio of voices you hear at the end are Brian singing two of the voices and Bruce one. Bruce then declared it "the most remarkable song on the album."

He called "I Know There's An Answer" pleasant at best, and talked about Mike not wanting to sing the original set of lyrics called "Hand On To Your Ego" because of it's drug implications. The story goes that when people were dropping acid in the sixties they had to "hang on to their egos." In the end - in my opinion - they did the right thing. Pet Sounds is a classic for the ages and having a song called "Hang On To Your Ego" sounds very dated to say the least.

With "Here Today" Bruce said that Brian is "redefining the word brilliant." He talked about the "unusual" break in the middle which he called perfection. This is the break that Brian told me was influenced by Bach - and if you've heard any Bach at all, you'll know what he's talking about. Bruce said he "wouldn't be surprised if every great musical talent of all-time is spinning around in Brian Wilson's great blender."

"I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" had a great lyric and track. This seems to be the one track Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce really love most and not the more obvious choices. Surprisingly he called the instrumental "Pet Sounds" cute, and that was it. Interestingly, both Mike and Bruce's least favorites on the album were the instrumentals. Perhaps because they on didn't sing them.

Bruce called "Caroline, No" "unbelievably hearbreaking ... brilliant" but he wished that it could have been left at its original speed. He explained that Brian's dad, Murray, had the song speed up a key so that Brian would song younger, and thus is would appeal to a young audience. Again a good move commercially, I suppose, but not a great artistic one. Interestingly, Bruce said Murray did it on others (not on Pet Sounds) and I wonder which ones?

Bruce said he did not like the new "Good Vibrations" CD single just released with its alternative versions, but the one "Brian Wilson signed off on."

Bruce couldn't answer some things about the recording of Pet Sounds because he said, bluntly, that he was out surfing and chasing girls. He said it was only after he did attend a tracking session for "God Only Knows" that he realized something special was going on. He said he just assumed that Mike wrote the lyrics and then found out afterwards that Tony Asher wrote them. After Pet Sounds, Bruce said he could've gotten out of the music business because nothing could be better than Pet Sounds. Bruce called himself "Oscar Levant to Brian's George Gershwin."s

After Pet Sounds, Bruce talked about some general things and said that "Disney Girls" was the only "cool" song he had written in his life, but he's just being humble. He's a cool guy and it was great finally getting to talk with him.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Looking Back With (Mike) Love


By Michael DeMartin

Having read most of the Brian and Beach Boys books, there is always the heroes and villains angle, which I guess makes for a good drama. True, the Beach Boys have had their problems with each other over the years, but I have to believe they will always have a bond after having been through so much. It was nice to see Brian, Mike, Al and Bruce last month on top of the Capitol building accepting their latest platinum records and bantering about. In fact, Brian didn’t discount rumors about the guys maybe doing something together in the near future – perhaps a live performance when Brian accepts a major award in London this coming November?

Mike Love has long been presented as the villain in many tales, so I have to admit I had a little trepidation when I had the opportunity to talk with him at length a few weeks ago. Here’s how it went:

Mike asked me what my last name was and I told him DeMartin. I was taken aback a little when he asked if it had an “o” at the end of it originally, and I told him it actually had an “i” at the end of it. I told him my Italian grandfather changed it so he could get a job. Immediately, Mike started singing “Get A Job.” Mike then asked me what I did for a living and I told him I owned a small design firm and we did a good amount of work for recording artists and labels. Mike asked me who I would recommend to do the album cover for his next project, and before you know it, I was invited to see him after his “Good Morning America” appearance the following day in New York City. He then asked me how much it would cost.

Mike’s new album is called “Mike Love (Not War)” which I have to admit is a clever title, but Mike has always been good with words. He told me the new album “rocks like a mother------” so we’ll have to see what’s up with that.

Talking about Pet Sounds, Mike said his 10-year old daughter’s favorite song is “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” which shows “the immortal, everlasting appeal of that song” and truer words have never been spoken. Mike was given a co-writer’s credit about ten years ago, along with Brian and Tony Asher and I asked him if it was because of his “Good Night, Baby/Sleep Tight Baby” refrain at the end of the song. He said actually he had a hand in writing the bridge of the song, which certainly is a classic. Mike talked about the “fabulous” intro and couldn’t compliment Brian enough during our talk. He did moan a little bit about the “27 passes” at singing the harmonies for "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and it was at that time that he started calling Brian “Dog Ears” because Brian heard every little thing. Mike said that it went beyond being perfect and that Brian was looking for “abstract, mystical overtones or something” and you can hear it in the “fantastically executed harmonies.” Mike’s a talkative guy and his explanation about the Beach Boys harmonies was quite insightful – in fact you'll be hearing it for yourself one of these days ... soon.

We talked about Pet Sounds and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, which Mike loves, but when I asked him to name his favorite albums, he refused. He said there were so few albums where every song was great, and that he was a singles' type of guy. He said he was partial to singles, because he and Brian wrote most of the Beach Boys hits together and he had “an emotional investment” in them. He said he didn’t get credit for them for many years due to Uncle Murray and it’s given people a “disproportionate idea of what was going on with the Beach Boys creatively.” Regardless, Mike continued to be most complimentary of Brian. Mike did say he wished the Beach Boys songs had more guitar on them since he loves Rock ‘n Roll, and Jimmy Hendrix, for instance.

Mike called Chuck Berry his “lyrical mentor” and Chuck influenced Mike's writing tremendously and he cited “Fun Fun Fun” and “Be True To Your School” as examples and talked about alliteration in their lyrics. I never thought about it before, but I can see the influence. And, as much as some people might want to knock Mike, let’s face it, he did have a hand in writing some of the great American popular songs of our time – as well as singing on them. Mike talked about some of Chuck’s “lyrical vinettes” and I told him that he did the same with many of the Beach Boys songs. As great as the music was, the lyrics did create a visual image of the song and Mike loudly exclaimed “THAT'S THE IDEA!,” like a college professor lecturing a student.

Mike talked about Pet Sounds in general and each track specifically. It was more than interesting because I’ve never heard MIke talk about the album in such detail. In fact, many think Mike didn’t like the album at all in 1966, and I’ll get to that a little later. After Pet Sounds, Mike said, there was a poll in and England newspaper that had the Beach Boys ahead of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Mike’s voice boomed “TAKE THAT PAUL AND MICK!” like it just happened yesterday. I was waiting for a reprise of Mike’s Hall of Fame speech, but fortunately, it wasn’t forthcoming. He said he was proud of that poll because there was “nobody more creative and prolific than the Beatles." Period.

Mike talked about “Good Vibrations” and said it would last a thousand years because it was so unique and there was nothing quite like it. Can’t argue with that. Mike said the music will last forever because it was “ a contribution to life.” He talked in detail about “The Warmth Of The Sun” and how he and Brian wrote it. He talked about Brian’s "haunting melody and the melancholy harmonies". The story was about a love that’s not reciprocated. “The Love of my life/She left me one day/I cried when she said/I don’t feel the same way.” Even if you’re not a Mike Love fan, you’ve got to admit the lyric to this song is damned good. A perfect marriage of words and music.

Mike talked about being positive with his work and we talked about Stevie Wonder being a positive force, despite being born in poverty and losing his vision as a baby as the result of a hospital mishap. He said “music made our lives, maybe saved our lives.”

Mike spoke about his love for “You Still Believe In Me" and its “aspect of forgiveness.” He said everyone deserved forgiveness and it almost sounded as if he was talking about himself, and he seemed to choke up a little bit. Mike couldn’t say enough about the lyric and the arrangement. He talked about the Pet Sounds songs in general being moody (but "in a good way") and Brian outdoing himself. Mike talked about Pet Sounds being about feelings and dealing with them and how the album was such a stretch from the surfing and girls themes they had sung about previously. Mike couldn’t say enough about Carl singing “God Only Knows” - a “stellar performance.” He would have liked to have heard Luther Vandross sing it, but was glad Neil Diamond did.

“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” was “so Brian Wilson and should probably be his theme song.” Then, Mike talked about how he came up with the name for the album Pet Sounds and its double-entendre. He said everything was great about the album except for the cover. He said the Beach Boys were not as savvy as the Beatles about actually caring about their album covers - certainly not like Paul McCartney "masterminding" the “Sgt. Peppers” cover.

Everything was going great and Mike was terrific, but I had to ask THE question. I told him that there were a lot of fans who saw him as the villain in the Pet Sounds story and that the word was he was less than thrilled with the new direction of the music and that he didn't want to "f--- with the formula." I could hear his blood pressure rise and see his cap pop off his head through the phone and he got, well, kind of angry to say the least. He interrupted me to tell me “that is a bunch of crap that I didn’t like Pet Sounds.” He said he’s never said anything negative about the album and the only thing he could criticize about the album was it's shlocky artwork.

Mike said he was into meditation while hangers-on were into drugs and it created a “them versus us” situation and that the people around Brian resented Mike. He said stories about him not liking Pet Sounds were “so untrue, so unkind, so petty and so malicious.” I would have to think this was true: anyone with half a musical brain has got to know what a work of art Pet Sounds is. Also, people talk about Pet Sounds being such a commercial disappointment, but I think most groups would dearly love to have a Top 10 album and three hit singles off of it. But, that’s just my feeling. Mike compared his and Brian’s situation to Lennon and McCartney’s and how McCartney often doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he’s not the cool one. He said people’s opinions are not always correct and he knows what he’s done and nobody can take that away from him.

Mike blamed Capitol Records for their lack of enthusiasm for promoting the album and that it took about 30 years for it to finally go platinum. He said it will “sell more from now on than it did from now backwards.” Mike said that if he had anything negative to say, it was probably about SMiLE, because he was not a fan of the lyrics and the shenangans that were going on at the time. He thought some of the lyrics by Van Dyke Parks were “brilliant ... I call them acid alliterations” but that he liked “words that make sense.” He said he’d ask Van Dyke what the words meant ("Over and over/The crow flies over the cornfield" for instance) and whether they would “connect with anyone out there.” Mike had a whole lot more to say about this subject – words hardcore fans would salivate over – but I’ll leave it at that.

In the end, Mike said Pet Sounds was a “collaboration, a group effort – we all slaved away in the studio and we came up with something great.” Can’t argue with that: Pet Sounds is one of the great musical achievements of our time and that cannot be denied – even by Mike Love.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Day At The Beach (Boy's House)


By Michael deMartin

It's not often that one gets to hang out with Brian Wilson at his house one afternoon and discuss Pet Sounds and other cool stuff. But that's what happened to me last week and I have to say it was pretty cool. Here's the story:

I arrived at the WIlson's home precisely at 1:30 with Joe, a friend of mine. Their house is in an absolutely beautiful area high atop the hills of Southern California. To my surprise, Brian came out to greet us enthusiastically. The Wilson's had just returned from vacation from Hawaii, and Brian looked good. Tan and in good shape for a man his age – and he still has that full head of hair. I thought, despite it all, we should all look so good at 64.

When we walked in, the house was beautifully decorated, neutral colors with elegant furnishings. A far cry, I'm sure, from Brian's place in Bel Air on Bellagio, a mansion he once painted purple, with a grand piano in a big sandbox.

Melinda was sitting on the bottom step of the beautiful staircase, and she looked great. No makeup at all – just a very attractive woman and very warm and inviting. Very relaxed with a smile on her face. Their housekeeper came in and Melinda introduced us. I reminded Maria that we met at Brian's 60th birthday party – and sat at the same table – at Brian's favorite restaurant on Mullholland Drive.

Joe and I followed Brian through the house and upstairs to the music room. I saw an open closet of God only knows how many Hawaiian shirts – obviously a favorite of Brian's.

The music room was cool, but certainly no recording studio. It was filled with gold records sitting up against couches and chairs, fan paintings of Dennis and Carl sitting on an end table, and his Grammy award on a desk next to a neat stack of sheet music. I looked closely at the top sheet and saw Brian's handwritten lyrics to a new song with the word "Chorus" above it. The lyrics were cool and it was exciting to see that Brian was working on new music.

Brian and I chatted about Hawaii. The Wilson's went to Kawai, and Brian sounding like a kid, proudly exclaimed that he walked every day for five miles. I told him he looked great. I told him my wife Melissa and I had spent part of our Honeymoon in Kawai and that we loved it too. We talked about the Island a little bit and how good the meals were.

I asked Brian about the brief reunion of the surviving Beach Boys on the top of the Capitol Records building last month. He said he had a good time and he proudly told me that the "Sounds of Summer" release sold over two million copies. As an aside, I heard from someone at Capitol Records that there have been exactly 58 Beach Boys compilations just in the United States. I can't think of another act – other than maybe Elvis – who have hat that many. It's just staggering.

We started talking about Pet Sounds and its upcoming 40th Anniversary CD/DVD release. I told Brian it would be cool to reach out to a new generation of kids, many of whom don't buy physical CDs anymore – much less cassettes and LPs. A Pet Sounds podcast series would reach that market of kids as well as adults who now download music onto their computers and iPods. I asked him if he knew what an iPod was, and he said he didn't. This surprised me a little: I wouldn't expect him to have one, but I figured maybe Melinda – or certainly one of their daughters would. In any case, I showed him my iPod and I told him there were 500 record albums on it. He said he couldn't believe it – I mean it is kind of a hard concept to get after you've grown up with LPs most of your life.

We started talking about each song on Pet Sounds and it was fascinating to say the least. Brian got warmed up and to hear him talk about it was out of this world. Being a student of Brian's and Pet Sounds in particular, I was hoping to hear a few things I had never heard before but I really didn't expect to.

Brian started to open up quite a bit and I think that this was partly due to the smile that was frozen on my face. I really got a kick out of him and I think he appreciated this and the fact that I wasn't just another dry journalist who maybe didn't have the same enthusiasm for the task at hand.

I asked him where he came up with the utterly cool arrangement to the track "Pet Sounds," and he thought for a second and just said "I can't put it into words." A completely honest answer – the art speaks for itself. But, he was very insightful about some other tracks, and here are some interesting things he had to say about Pet Sounds.

Talking about "I Know There's An Answer," I told him I believed that he was the first to use the bass harmonica, because shortly thereafter, Simon & Garfunkel used it in on "The Boxer" and then the Beatles on "Fool On The Hill." Brian agreed and I brought up the musician, Tommy Morgan, who played it. Brian said Tommy tood this big thing and Brian startled me when he let out a big WONK! sound demonstrating how the instrument sounded. It was one of the more funnier moments we had.

I asked Brian if he still listened to Pet Sounds, and in fact, he said, he hasn't listened to the album in ages. And I suppose that's pretty normal. It must be kind of strange for someone at 64 to be asked about something they did 40 years ago. How much would anyone remember? He's an artist and he moves on – unlike us fans who continue to revel in this work of art and will probably continue to analyse it until we're 64 – and beyond.

Here are a few more tidbits:

Was "Pet Sounds" ever going to be called "Remember The Zoo?" Brian laughed and said of course not, and that he hadn't heard that one. I told him there are a lot of intense fans who actually care about these things (including me), but he just shook his head and laughed "No."

I asked him if there were lyrics to "Let's Go Away For Awhile." He said no, and I asked him about the title – did he actually feel the need to get away at the time. He said, yes, he did – it's just a beautiful arrangement that makes you feel good.

I asked him if he was recording any of the "SMiLE" material concurrently with "Pet Sounds" (as some people have written) and he looked at me as if I had two heads. I guess the answer to that one was no.

I asked him whose idea it was to put "Sloop John B" on the album and he said it was his. I recounted the story that Capitol wanted it on the album to have a sure-fire it, but he said no, it was his idea. He then talked a little about the track and called it one of his favorites. In fact he mentioned Carl Sanburg as the writer, which surprised me. He said he loved the arrangement and sang parts of it. Brian Wilson singing parts to me was pretty cool.

I asked him if "Good Vibrations" was ever supposed to be a part of "Pet Sounds" and he said no. He talked about being a kid and going to the market with his mother and a dog barked at her. Brian aske her "why did that dog bark at you, Mom" (saying it just like a kid). His mother told him dogs pick up vibrations from people. If they don't like you they bark. Or, they "pick up good vibrations" if they like you.

I told him that one of the Capitol guys discovered Dennis' name on a track list as singing lead on "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times." Brian was genuinely surprised about this and while I told him he did a great job on it, Dennis would have sung the heck out of it. This may have been the most animated Brian got: he said, "yeah, Dennis would have sounded GREAT on that track."

I asked Brian what his favorite albums were and here they are:

1) Phil Spectors' Christmas Album
2) Sail Away by Randy Newman ("a landmark recording")
3) Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hears Club Band by the Beatles ("an incredibly great album")
4) Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd

(Later that day, I downloaded "Sail Away" by Randy Newman on iTunes, and I can see why Brian loved it. The arrangements are stunning and the song "Lonely At The Top" could very well describe Brian Wilson. I'm sure he relates to this song very well. If you haven't heard this stunning album, you've got to pick it up – or download it).

I told Brian I was a big Frank Sinatra fan and I asked what he thought of him. He said he loved Sinatra's voice and his whole personality. He was a big fan of the records, especially the ones with arranger Nelson Riddle. He said he loved Riddle's arrangements – they were as good as it gets – and that even indirectly, he was influenced by those records – how could he not be? For those who haven't listened to Sinatra's concept albums with Riddle on Capitol Records in the 1950s, you're missing out big time.

Brian talked about Caroline, No, and how it had a Glen Miller vibe , and I told him I also felt the Miller vibe on "You Still Believe In Me" with the clarinets. He agreed and said that when he was young he was open to – and listened – to everything and "Pet Sounds" was the culmination of that.

Brian told me there was a definite Bach influence on "Here Today" with the organ break and leadup to the chorus at the end. I could kick myself for not asking how often he listened to Bach and specifically what. He then told me something I didn't know: I asked him about the orchestration for Pet Sounds: did he write it all down – was it in his head – how did it get to the musicians? He proudly told me that he wrote it all down himself – every note. I asked him how he learned to write music and he said from his uncle. I asked on his father's side or mother's side. He said it was his mother's brother.

I asked him he if ever had designs on scoring movies after Pet Sounds since that would appear to be a natural progression. He said he never did and that he always wanted to be with the Beach Boys.

I told him I thought "Let's Go Away For Awhile" had a Burt Bacharach kind of sound and he said Bacharach was influential on it. To do some things that went beyond standard arrangements was the goal for that track. He then excitedly told me that he was working with Burt Bacharach on some new music. I told him that I had read that he did a song with Bacharach and Brian told me that was right and gave me the song title (which I forgot). The collaboration went so well, that Brian and Bacharach (how's that for the name of an album?) are now working on more material which is enticing to say the least. I asked what might come of it, but he didn't say. Let the rumors fly!

Brian's got a nice piano with a small two-track mixer. Next to that he has a cheap RadioShack tape recorder which he probably uses when he's got something good on the piano. On an ottoman he's got an electronic keyboard. I then spotted a cool double gold record for both "Pet Sounds" and "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band").

Brian told us he had a fun time and I believed him because we had some laughs and Brian really cracked us up here and there. I told Brian that my twins – both 6 1/2 – love his music and he signed their names and his on two Pet Sounds LP covers. Collectors items to be sure. Something hopefully they'll always have. Music their dad loved signed by the man who made it. A real keepsake to be sure.

Before you know it – POOF – Brian was gone. When Joe and I got out to the car, I had to run back and find my glasses. I looked here and there and finally found them. I wanted to say goodbye to Melinda, so I looked to the side of the house and she was in the garage on the treadmill – I suppose another ordinary day in the life of the Wilson household.

Joe and I had a great time: Brian couldn't have been nicer – he's a humble guy who likes to have a laugh. It's great to see him happy, healthy, working on new music and just enjoying life. I think the question "wouldn't it be nice" can be definitely be answered in a single word: yes.