Brian Wilson: Songwriter 1962-1969 Chronicles a Remarkable Talent
When the Beach Boys were popular, they were very, very popular. According to the new two-DVD set, Brian Wilson: Songwriter 1962-1969, the heart, soul, and brains of this iconic group that changed American rock and roll was Brian Wilson. Wilson not only wrote but also produced most of the band’s work.
Wilson is acknowledged as a genius and not just a songwriter, but a composer of a complex “tapestry of music.” Music was an important part of life in the Wilson family; parents Audree and Murry stressed music education and the family engaged in weekly songfests every Sunday. It would have been no surprise that sons Brian, Dennis, and Carl were to become professional musicians.
Brian Wilson: Songwriter 1962-1969, although not authorized by Brian Wilson, his record company, or management, is a respectful tribute to Wilson’s early years and successes. It is comprised of interviews, photographs, and archival film covering the years 1962 through 1969, corresponding to the rise and decline of The Beach Boys as a band. It briefly touches on Wilson’s struggles with drugs and mental illness, and concentrates on his phenomenal output as a composer.
Two Beach Boys—Bruce Johnston and David Marks—participated in interviews, as well as a number of fellow musicians, former associates, friends, and biographers. Members of Brian Wilson’s family were notably absent from the documentary, as was any reference to his father’s emotionally and physically abusive treatment of the brothers. However, Murry Wilson’s management of the Beach Boys, his clashes with Brian, and eventual firing are all covered. Recording studio tapes provide an intimate look into their relationship.
While Brian Wilson: Songwriter 1962-1969 provides a portrait of Wilson, it is all about his music. Ample time is given to his evolution, challenges, and relationships with his band, fellow musicians, and songwriters. Included are samples of live and studio recordings of much of Wilson’s classic works, as well as explanations of their complexity and origins.
Brian Wilson was not just “a Beach Boy,” and Brian Wilson: Songwriter 1962-1969 is a fond remembrance of a time when he was at his peak. Beach Boys fans will enjoy it for its history of the immensely successful band; music and cultural history buffs will find it edifying; and those with an appreciation for composing and songwriting will benefit from its lessons.