FEATURE: Good Vibrations: Sending Love and Support to the Wonderful Brian Wilson




Good Vibrations

IN THIS PHOTO: Brian Wilson/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images  

Sending Love and Support to the Wonderful Brian Wilson


EVERY one of us loves The Beach Boys


 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

and it is impossible to ignore the brilliance of Brian Wilson. I mean, everyone should love The Beach Boys because they have been responsible for some of the greatest music of the past fifty years. There are few bands as varied and extraordinary as them and, yet, we sort of forget just how influential they are. From their Surf period where they talked about Californian sun and girls through to the iconic Pet Sounds – here is a band that has an enormous mark on the music scene. I followed them from my childhood and was hooked by their harmonies and insatiable choruses. When Pet Sounds came along, it was like being taken into another world. Although the band are not really performing at the moment – it is more Brian Wilson on his own now – we can look back at the incredible music left behind and how many artists have been inspired by The Beach Boys – including The Beatles, to boot! The leader of the group, Brian Wilson, has never had an easy ride. This curious genius has had to live with mental-health problems since he was young but the pressures of touring and music have taken their toll. There are sad reports that suggest Wilson is not in a good place right now and has had to step away from touring. Here, in this article, The Guardian give some details:

Brian Wilson has postponed a US tour scheduled to begin on Friday due to feeling “mentally insecure”.

In a statement, Wilson said he had “been living with mental illness for many decades. There were times when it was unbearable but with doctors and medications I have been able to live a wonderful, healthy and productive life.” He said that following surgery on his back, “I started feeling strange and it’s been pretty scary for a while. I was not feeling like myself. Mentally insecure, is how I’d describe it.

“I’ve been struggling with stuff in my head and saying things I don’t mean and I don’t know why. Its something I’ve never dealt with before and we can’t quite figure it out just yet.”

Wilson has been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder for some time. He once described his symptoms: “For the past 40 years I’ve had auditory hallucinations in my head, all day every day, and I can’t get them out. Every few minutes the voices say something derogatory to me, which discourages me a little bit, but I have to be strong enough to say to them, ‘Hey, would you quit stalking me? Fuck off! Don’t talk to me – leave me alone!’ I have to say these types of things all day long. It’s like a fight.” He has partially attributed his mental health struggles to LSD use.

Wilson has maintained a robust touring schedule in recent years, playing shows across the US and Europe alongside former Beach Boy Al Jardine”.

It is heartbreaking hearing news like this and everyone in the music community sends the very best to Brian Wilson at this time. I guess we all assume our favourite musicians will be okay but we do not realise that they, like us, have these struggles and bad times. Maybe it was excessive LSD use but I think a combination of events have contributed to Wilson’s poor mental-health through the years.

It is staggering to see how long Wilson has been playing and the music he has put out since the 1960s. Here is a man who is always working hard to reach audiences and touch the people. The Beach Boys’ music has impacted us all hugely and I don’t know if there is another songwriter like Brian Wilson on this planet. His gifts are rare and huge and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I think this will be a minor setback because I’d hate to see him stop touring and struggle so hard. Maybe this is a particularly bad turn but there are people worried about him and whether we will see him record/tour again. Everyone wishes the very best for him and hope that we see him very soon. Although there are more complex reasons as to why Wilson has pulled out of touring commitments, I think the general pressure and expectation on all artists is huge. Those who know Wilson and have interviewed him know how much he lives and breathes music. The interviewer from this Uproxx feature (in 2018) spoke with Wilson and tried to get to the heart of what keeps him going:

“On one hand, he’s an in-demand musical titan, revered by millions for helping to shape the sound and aesthetic of pop music for every single generation that came after him. As such, he gamely schleps around the world, and with the aid of his large backing band that includes fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine as well as Blondie Chaplin, he performs his oversized collection of classic hits – “California Girls” is his favorite — to audiences totally willing to see past any and all faults and flaws in presentation and performance, merely grateful to share the same oxygen as the man himself. On the other hand, he’s a tired, 76-year old man who just wants to have a comfy place to sit and be left alone.

PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Burnell 

“What keeps you going?” I asked.
“Well, it’s inspiration to meet people of all ages inspire me to write music,” he responded.
“Are you currently writing new music?” I wondered.
“I haven’t written anything for a while,” he replied.
“I heard you were thinking about doing a rock and roll covers album called Sensitive Music for Sensitive People. What’s kind of the status on that?
“You know, I don’t know. I don’t really know.”
“Do you still love to play for people?”
“Yeah, yeah, I do.”

Despite the allure of that comfy recliner, despite the fact that he’s got a wife and five kids set up in a pretty nice home in Beverly Hills where he goes for regular walks through a nice, nearby park and frequents a favorite deli for lunch, despite the fact that he once had a nervous breakdown on an airplane at the very height of The Beach Boys’ success in the ‘60s that caused him to swear of touring forever, he just can’t get out of the business of being Brian Wilson: Musical Genius. Having seen him live myself, it doesn’t outwardly appear he gets much personal joy from the adulation of the fans, and while I’m sure the money is nice, he can’t really need it at this point”.

I don’t think Brian Wilson will quit music for a very long time but it is important he rests and takes some time out to recharge.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are few details regarding the reason behind Wilson’s sabbatical but it seems that he needs to address something personal. Although we know he will be back in the music world, there are a lot of concerned fans that wonder what this means. I do think Wilson will be okay but it is always alarming seeing someone so revered and legendary suffer like this. Whilst we all send love and support his way, take some time to acquaint yourself with the wonderful music of Brian Wilson. He is this truly sensational and enigmatic artist who continues to bring joy to our lives. As an interviewee, he is warm but somewhat distant (understandable given his psychological health issues) but he always leaves a mark on everyone who encounters him. We all do wish him the best and look forward to seeing him back on the road very soon. After hearing the news of Wilson’s health problems, I have been reacquainting myself with his music and genius. Whatever mood you are in, The Beach Boys’ magic is there to comfort, lift and amaze. At the centre of everything is the incredible Brian Wilson. I, as I said, have been following him since childhood and I feel this personal attachment to him. His music has inspired my life and soundtracked some of my happiest days. Lots of love and warm thoughts to the legendary Brian Wilson and I, and everyone in music, wishes him…

THE best of health.