Brian Wilson’s Competitive Bug: Beach Boys vs The Beatles
“When people hear music that is spiritual it gets through. Music that is Godlike and loving gets through. I don’t have any power in this world, but I have spiritual power. I think God gave me my music and my talent”. Brian Wilson
God only knows what I’d be without you
If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me
Brian Douglas Wilson (born 20 June 1942) is an American pop musician, best known as a founding member of and the main producer, composer, and arranger for The Beach Boys.
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group’s original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine.
“I first felt I had a good voice when I was about seventeen or eighteen and was able to sing along well to records by The Four Freshmen. By singing along to those records that’s how I learned how to sing falsetto. I would sing along to songs like “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” “I’ll Remember April” and “Day by Day”.…When I wrote “Surfer Girl” I liked it so much that I said that I’m gonna keep on writing songs”. Brian Wilson
In January 1963, The Beach Boys recorded their first top-ten (cresting at number three in the United States) single, “Surfin’ U.S.A.“,
“I have to tell you that J.S. Bach was easily the greatest musical innovator in the history of the world. He was so advanced for his time. There’s a spiritual depth to his music. You can listen to it and it’s like meditation”. Brian Wilson
“I have stage fright every single concert I’ve ever done. I have at least four or five minutes of it. It’s absolute living hell” Brian Wilson
Beach Boys vs The Beatles
“The Beach Boys have always been a part of the ’60s spectrum, with The Beatles and that kind of thing. They were a part of the music business like everyone else. And they did quite well as a singing group, and I finished a lot of good records, and I’m very proud of them” Brian Wilson
“It was very competitive in the ’60s. And everybody caught the bug, y’know? It was like a “competitive bug.” And, as far as I could see, everybody was turning everybody on. … The Beatles were a part of that whole “competition” thing. Rubber Soul blew my mind. It really made me wanna record; it made me wanna cut. It sounds like a collection of songs that belong together, and it was an uplifting feeling. So I thought I’d make a collection of songs — called Pet Sounds — together. That’s how I got that idea. … I’m proud of it. I think it’s a very everlasting album. I’m very proud of the love that went into it. A lot of love went into that album. And people pick up on that too, and they really like it ‘cause they feel the love”. Brian Wilson
“I met Paul in 1967, Ringo in 1985, and I saw George Harrison in a nightclub somewhere in L. A. I never met John. On the Beatles”. Brian Wilson – “A Pop Genius Speaks of Love, Mercy, and Melody ” (6 November 2001)
“I talked to Paul McCartney over the years ranging from 1967 to 2004. … At the landmine show he did “God Only Knows” with me and I did “Let It Be” with him. And then I called him about four months ago asking him if he could come out and do — sing a song called “A Friend Like You,” which I wrote for him, me and my collaborator wrote for him. And he said he’d love to come out. And he came to the studio and that was one of the bigger thrills of my life to tell you the truth, to produce Paul McCartney. And that was a thrill for me. That was a thrill”. Brian Wilson
“I listened to a lot of different bass players – mostly Motown records. They were great and the bass player, who I found out later was James Jamerson, was an influence. So smooth, melodic, and solid. I really liked Marvin Gaye records. And, of course, I’ve always liked Brian Wilson all the way through The Beach Boys. But Pet Sounds blew me away. It’s still one of my favourite albums. When I first heard it, I thought, Wow, this is the greatest record of all time! Brian took the bass into very unusual places. The band would play in C, and Brian would stay in G. That kind of thing. It gave me great ideas. That musical invention of Brian Wilson was eye-opening, I mean, ear-opening”. Paul McCartney, The Beatles
In the mid-1960s, Wilson used his increasingly creative ambitions to compose and produce Pet Sounds, considered one of the greatest albums of all time.
“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 … I love the orchestra, the arrangements … it may be going overboard to say it’s the classic of the century … but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways … I’ve often played Pet Sounds and cried”. Paul McCartney, The Beatles
“The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Phil Spector. Those were my idols” Brian Wilson
The intended follow-up to Pet Sounds, Smile, was cancelled for various reasons, which included Wilson’s deteriorating mental health. As he suffered through multiple nervous breakdowns, Wilson’s contributions to the Beach Boys diminished and his erratic behavior led to tensions with the band.
After years of treatment and recuperation, he began a solo career in 1988 with Brian Wilson, the same year that he and the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
“It’s like when a guy gets a divorce from his wife. You part ways. That’s what I did with The Beach Boys” .Brian Wilson
“If there’s not love present, it’s much, much harder to function. When there’s love present, it’s easier to deal with life”. Brian Wilson
“Don’t get married until you’re certain that you’re marrying the right girl. How did I know my wife was the one? I’d seen her for a couple of months. I liked her. She was a very creative person and she had a very good grip on politics and Business”. Brian Wilson