An Open Letter Of Thanks To Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson Reimagines GershwinA personal post:

Today I found myself flying musically … at the public library. You see, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been coming here to work and go on-line. I am desperately trying to ride a creative high and meet a personal deadline to complete production of my film, Dada Venduza, against mounting financial and personal odds. The last two days found me re-creating the feel of the film for its soundtrack I’ll release on CD and here online. For some tracks, I’ve been combining, in true dada mode, a collage of music, speech and sound effects from the film. I’ve been having a blast doing so.

Anyway, back to my flying at the public library. I was listening to the album, ‘Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin’, and since I’m currently hoping to put together a musical performance of Gershwin tunes … I sort of have George and Ira’s songs on my brain. Their musical essence transcends almost any any cover you might here … and provided fuel for flight.

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Drones, Probes And Creative Sorts

Jump in the pigpen,
next time I’ll take my shoes off
Hit the dirt doing two-and-a-half,
next time I’ll leave my hat on…
– Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks (Barnyard)

 

Years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that if you traveled too far in one direction, you would eventually fall off the planet. Many years later, the ‘flat top’ hairstyle was all the rage. I’ll leave it to you to connect the dots.

Sometime over the next few months the Voyager 1 spacecraft, first launched in 1977, will cross the line separating our solar system and interstellar space. Of course, there is much conjecture over what exactly will happen once the space probe leaves the warmth of our Sun’s heliosphere and the solar winds that have egged it on along its path.

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The SMiLE Of A Dumb Angel

Surf’s Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children’s song
– Brian Wilson / Van Dyke Parks

You have to SMiLE at the thought that 43 years after the Beach Boys’ album SMiLE was supposed to be released, an official version in more than one form finally came to be … on Halloween, and in the UK no less. In the United States, the release came 1 day later, on November 1st, the end of the hurricane season in the ‘Atlantic basin’.

Just yesterday I ordered the 2 CD version from the Beach Boys site. I paid extra for the version with a SMiLE T-Shirt. I don’t want to just ‘look, listen, vibrate’ and SMiLE’ I want to wear it, too!

Personal Music: Some Notes & Chords:

There was a time in my life when I would sit at a piano all day and play various chord combinations, without really knowing what chords I was actually playing. Later, I did the same on guitar. I wasn’t looking for a particular mathematical permutation of notes, but rather I was looking for a feeling, a sensation, perhaps even a ‘movement’. In musical terms, this would refer to a “self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form”. For example, on a guitar, pluck the chord Asus2 and let it resonate. To me, such forms don’t necessary come in a string of notes played across a few bars…. but rather in a single blast … a Big Bang, if you will. Listen to the seminal chord progression struck by the Beach Boys vocals in the album’s opening track, Prayer, and you’ll understand.

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Lie To Me! Fabrications, Fables, Fairy Tales And Fibs

“He gives speeches, but they put him back in bed where he wrote his satire.”
– Brian Wilson, (He Gives Speeches)

 

I think it was in kindergarten when I remember being told the story of little George “I cannot tell a lie” Washington and the cherry tree he confessed to his father he had chopped down. Through this vignette, my classmates and I were admonished to always tell the truth. The only problem was that often told tale … is a lie, a fabricated fable of fibbing fiction. It was actually created by biographer, Mason Locke Weems, as an anecdote laudable to Washington’s character and as an “exemplary to his countrymen”. Nevertheless, this fractured fairy tale is almost as hallowed as the national anthem.

When I was 2 years old, the US Congress passed the ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’ granting President Johnson the wanton power to take military action as he saw fit in Southeast Asia, ostensibly to combat the spread of communist aggression. The passage of the resolution, enabling Johnson to launch America full-tilt into the Vietnam war, was predicated on a fabricated set of events suggesting that American naval vessels had come under unprovoked attack by the North Vietnamese.

When I first heard the above tale, I remember being skeptical. I’m not sure why my ‘bullshit detector’ went off that day. Perhaps it was the result of a burgeoning character flaw or a latent psychic ability to perceive the teacher’s own insincerity in her own overly dramatic rendition of the fable. Some might say that my lack of gullibility at that tender age speaks volumes of my character or my perception of ethics. And, indeed early on I began to question my moral constitution. In retrospect, I was ‘loony’ to do so.

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