Monday, January 15, 2007

Man with the Golden Ear

It took 38 years for Brian Wilson to finish "SMiLE." It was well worth the wait.

This collaboration between two legends, Wilson and lyricist, or in this case, librettist, Van Dyke Parks, could well have been the first and most ambitious rock opera, a soaring tribute to the American landscape. The story goes that the Beatles were visiting the Beach Boys in Hawthorne in 1966 and Wilson showed McCartney and Lennon some early tapes of SMiLE. Six months later, the Beatles came out with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and Wilson believed the Liverpool boys stole his concept.

Though mostly deaf in his right ear, Wilson's pitch-perfect harmonies and instrumentation are unrivaled. Leonard Bernstein himself that Wilson's left ear should be in the Smithsonian Institution, it is such a perfect instrument.

Here's a recent performance of Good Vibrations:

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