April 15th, 2013
If you are an ardent fan of “Pet Sounds”, I suspect it is the same for you. What a remarkable thing it is to know that there’s someone out there who understands how you feel and feels the same way—and who not only feels as you do, but can articulate your feelings better than you can.
This is a very loving tome on the creation process of “Pet Sounds“, which is by many not only hailed as The Beach Boys’ masterpiece, but one of the best albums of the 1960s, and by others as the best pop album ever made.
It also delves into the sanities and insanities regarding Brian Wilson, the “Pet Sounds” mastermind and main creator.
The music is a world in itself, and this book complements it well. The author has taken in how lonely and worthless Brian Wilson felt, before, during and slightly after having finished the album. His manager father, his fears, his marriage, the competition from The Beatles…
To end – a few lines from the book on the song “God Only Knows”:
The song opens with the line “I may not always love you.”
Forget for a moment the audacity of beginning a love song with that phrase. Consider what it means when hitched to what follows:
I may not always love you,
But long as there are stars above you,
You’ll never need to doubt it.
I’ll make you so sure about it.
We see two people here, together, at this moment and what they have is profound, and as long as the universe exists, whether or not they remain together, she will know the depth and strength of his love.
Why? Because he needs her.
The next line: “God only knows what I’d be without you.” If I don’t have you, he’s saying, and that profound love, I cannot fathom what I would be. This sentiment is confirmed, and expanded, in the next verse:
If you should ever leave me,
Though life would still go on, believe me,
The world could show nothing to me,
So what good would living do me?
Without her, he has no reason to live.
“God Only Knows” is, at the same time, a mature proclamation of love and another desperate plea. And it’s a distillation of what much of “Pet Sounds” is about: the sense that if we surrender to an all-consuming love, we will never be able to live without it. And, though we’re uncertain that the reward is worth the risk, we yearn to surrender.
The love Brian envisioned was worth more than life.
In 1964, while the Beach Boys were on tour, Brian wrote to Marilyn [his wife, Niklas’ edit] each and every day. He ended one lovely letter with this phrase: “Yours ’til God wants us apart.”
P.s. It’ll be interesting to read Brian Wilson’s autobiography when it’s released, in 2015.