Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fun, Fun, Fun

On a recent "night out"* I heard Peter Ames Carlin read from his new biography of Brian Wilson. The reading made me realize that there are some hard-core Beach Boys fans out there and that they take the band's music really seriously. Growing up in southern cal, I'd never thought more of it than the background music to those montage scenes in movies where the kids frolic on the beach while their parents think they are at school.

I guess I should not have been surprised that people take the Beach Boys seriously. Take any band and you are likely to find adherents who adore everything the band has done and take great offense at any suggestion that the band is less than perfect. Take AC/DC fans. I have nothing against AC/DC, but man, those people have no sense of humor.

While I'm unlikely to spend a lot of time playing and replaying Pet Sounds, or trying to parse Smile lyrics any time soon, listening to Carlin speak did get me in a bit of a Beach Boys mood. Today I found myself carrying Ada to the couch, singing "Everybody loves nursing, nursing U.S.A."

*Ok, my exciting night out was a trip to see a taping of the locally-produced public radio program Live Wire. Yes, I go out not to drink or dance, but to sit in the dark at a younger, somewhat hipper (she says defensively) Prairie Home Companion, minus the guy with the long face telling stories about his hometown. Actually, I was pretty excited for this, because in addition to the Wilson biographer and a funny monologue by Marc Acito, the show featured performances by both Robbie Fulks and Stephen Malkmus. For a geek-girl like myself, it was pretty fun to be just feet from alt-country and alt-rock legends. (Look how geeky I am, using the word "legends".)


  1. Personally, I find brian wilson's life a lot more interesting than his music. I get it that it's hip to listen to Pet Sounds but I could never really get into it.

  2. I guess I shouldn't be surprised about the beach boys - however, I couldn't really get into them.

    I do like the nursing USA thing. Very catchy.

  3. I totally agree about the way people act when it comes to favorite bands. I had a friend who was genuinely insulted by the Barenaked Ladies song about Brian Wilson, saying it made light of his disease. It was a little scary, how adamant he was.

    Of course, if anyone makes jokes about John Denver, I go ballistic, so there you go. :)

  4. Peter Ames Carlin5/22/2006 3:43 PM

    Hi, thanks for coming to the "Live Wire" broadcast, and for mentiong it here. And I'm glad you liked the reading, or were (at least) intrigued enough to write about it. That's cool. And is anything cooler than "Live Wire" itself? I'm continually blown away by how funny and smart and cool all those people are. It was an honor just to be there.

    Regarding the book: I tried to write it to appeal to people who might not give a rip about Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys. The idea being that BW's story echoes/extends larger themes in American cultural history. And though i'd love it if some previously-disinterested person were intrigued enough to give "Pet Sounds," "Smile" or one of the other cool albums ("Friends/20-20", for instance) a spin as a result of having read it, mostly I tried to write a book about American culture, and the perpetual tension between utopianism and cynicism.

    That's it for now. Sorry to hijack your (cool) blog like this. Carry on.


  5. Brian Wilson is of course a genius. We saw him on election night at Disney was so refreshing NOT to be watching presidential results that night.