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June 19, 2018

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Can Brian Wilson Teach us to Smile?

May 9, 2020

You may not know who Brian Wilson is, but you definitely know who The Beach Boys are. You
probably know them for their surfy sound that catapulted them to fame in the 1960s.


But why would we cover the standard stuff that everyone knows about? I was talking to one of
my friends who introduced me to the infamous album Smile*. The uncompleted project that
was published by Capitol Records in 2011, forty five years after the initial conception.


*Wilson released his own version of Smile in 2004 under his own personal moniker.


This album was supposed to be released after Pet Sounds, but the other band members were
not huge fans of the departure from their distinct surfy style. Honestly, it feels like a mesh of
Frank Zappa and old classical music that creates a personified smiling character. The irony is
that Smile was considered to be the fall of Wilson’s mental health after Van Dyke Parks, lyricist,
was exiled. Despite the success of Good Vibrations, Wilson was torn apart. This was his
perfect baby, and was watered down into the album Smiley Smile.


This is a lesson for all musicians. Never hold back your creativity, no matter how strange it may
be. Although it may produce hidden gems like The Smile Sessions, it is best to put your artistry
out there, without anything held back. Otherwise, you will suppress your artistic mind, and
likely spend years creating music you don’t want to make. Don’t do that. Be better.

I think Wilson learned this lesson too late.