My Heroes Have Always Been Beach Boys

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It’s more than just “Fun,Fun,Fun” I tell my friend who is older than I am but disagrees with me about the Beach Boys. He was never a fan and I felt the need to defend one of my favorite groups even though they possess one of the most lucrative and influential catalogs in popular music. They are the most successful group the United States has ever produced and their main songwriter Brian Wilson has been praised as one of rock’s greatest composers. And they are fun (fun, fun). A long time ago a marketing campaign was waged to promote the value of the Beach Boy’s music since a lot of it was aimed toward teenagers. The campaign promoted Brian’s genius and the push obviously worked since the genius tag still sticks with him. When my wife and I saw him perform recently on his tour with Jeff Beck, (with Alan Jardine and David Marks) she didn’t get why my hero was a befuddled looking old man sitting stage left behind a grand piano. She didn’t know the back story and I had introduced her to some of his music but the concert was her first real Beach Boys experience. Even though she did not like the concert it was important to me for her to see Brian so that some day when she is older and has more perspective she might look at the experience in a different way. That befuddled old guy survived a hell of a lot to be up their on that stage performing at the age of 71 and for me it is a minor miracle he is still around much less putting on a show. For even greater perspective Made In California was just issued in conjunction with the Beach Boys 50th anniversary and it is a pretty definitive overview from Surfin to That’s Why God Made The Radio. It is 6 discs worth of aural goodness and the sound is so wonderful I may have to ditch my individual albums in favor of listening to both the groups hits as well as some deeper cuts from this box set instead. I’d like to see Brian’s solo efforts get a similar treatment someday since his catalog has been overlooked (but so has Paul McCartney’s). Beach Boys music hasn’t always been part of my listening experience either, I can understand some of the skepticism. I grew up and live in Ohio which is another world from the surfing/California Girl admiring lifestyle so I couldn’t relate to the warm sunny sounds the group had built a reputation on. I had listened to Pet Sounds only after high praise from music critics and a huge endorsement from Paul McCartney. I didn’t get it. This wasn’t rock, it wasn’t even really pop music and with theexception of a couple of the songs I just didn’t hear what the experts were raving about. Several years later I heard Wouldn’t It Be Nice and more importantly, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times. That song connected with me in a surprising way, this wasn’t teenage music this had depth and tragic beauty. From that building block their other songs took on new dimensions and I started to hear the complexity and vocal gymnastics going on in the beautiful harmonies. It’s that realization I hope my wife discovers some day and if she doesn’t I’ll be slightly disappointed. I opened up a lot of my heart and soul and included her in one of my favorite passions which has always been a difficult thing for me to do. She missed it entirely but instead of getting angry I realized It took me awhile before the sounds I heard over many years connected with me on a personal level. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and also the time and life experience to learn to appreciate the joy and harmony of Brian’s music.  Then maybe she won’t remember him as a confused old man looking lost behind a piano but as a man who shared a great gift and for those of us who appreciated it a lifetime full of happiness (and fun, fun, fun).  

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