Music of the Moment: Brian Wilson and the Avett Brothers

I spent too many years neck-deep in the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, both for professional purposes (maybe 10 percent of the time) and weird personal ones (the other 90). You already know what you know about the music itself, the harmonies and the lush instrumentation, etc. etc. I was walking the dog the other day with this newish Purple Chick bootleg of “Smile,” pulling together as much original ’66-’67 ‘Smile’ tracks, with an emphasis on the original vocals (one or two of which I’d never heard before, e.g. Brian’s original vocal on “Child is the Father to the Man”) and what sounds like (am I dreaming?) a Dennis Wilson vocal on an original verse or two of the “Roll Plymouth Rock” verses. (beaded cheering Indians behind them….) Check it out, it’s a free download right here. Some parts of this re-imagining grate on me just a bit (the random puzzle work in the third movement, with the “wind chimes” bits) but it got me going again on “Smile,” and then into the late ’60s BW and BB stuff, right up to the sizzling medley of “Wonderful” and “Don’t Worry Bill” from ’72 (Carnegie Hall, I think), which made me yearn again for the artsy days. Ah, gee.

Only now I’m also listening to this new album by the Avett Brothers, “I and Love and You,” which a colleague hipped me to a couple of weeks back. And so I’ve got it on the band’s website player (right here) and as Brian is my witness I’ll run off to Music Millennium before the day is done and have the actual product right here and into my iTunes. It feels lovely right now, sweet and heartbroken and full of imagination and off-kilter images and ideas. Raw and beautiful, understated and right on.

So it’s a good morning so far, with a lot of work ahead and some cool new music to contemplate while I do it all. Writing at its best is an out of body, other-worldly experience….losing your shell and drifting off somewhere else. These Avett boys did it on this new album, just as Brian and Van Dyke did it on “Smile.” Everyone in their own way, to their own end. 

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