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S36 Ep5

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

Premiere: 6/14/2022 | 00:02:04 |

Explore the life and career of the singer, songwriter and co-founder of The Beach Boys. The film traces the legendary performer’s journey of reflection on a drive through Los Angeles with his longtime friend and Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine.



About the Episode

The principal originator of the “California sound,” musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and co-founder of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson is known for his novel approach to composition and recording and is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and significant musicians of the 20th century.

The new documentary American Masters – Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road follows Wilson on a drive through Los Angeles with his longtime friend and Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine. With Fine behind the wheel and Wilson selecting the music, they reflect on the formative and creative periods in Wilson’s life as they revisit the places that helped to shape his career. American Masters – Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road premieres nationwide Tuesday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video App as part of #PBSForTheArts.

The filmed road trip provides an intimate look into Wilson’s recollections and is bolstered by memorable concert and studio footage as well as interviews with Wilson’s admirers and those close to him, including Al Jardine (co-founder of The Beach Boys), Don Was (record executive), Bruce Springsteen (musician), Elton John (musician), Nick Jonas (musician and actor), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Gustavo Dudamel (conductor and music director) and the late Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), among others. The documentary also introduces “Right Where I Belong,” an original song written and performed by Wilson and Jim James.

Wilson’s professional career began in 1961 with the founding of the Beach Boys, serving as the band’s songwriter, producer, co-lead vocalist, bassist, keyboardist, and de facto leader. By the mid-1960s, Wilson had written or co-written more than two dozen U.S. Top 40 hits, including the number-ones “Surf City” (1963), “I Get Around” (1964), “Help Me, Rhonda” (1965), and “Good Vibrations” (1966). Wilson’s honors include induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beach Boys) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honor, two Grammy Awards, and the Ivor Novello Award. American Masters – Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road highlights Wilson’s achievements, but Wilson also opens up and shares intensely personal glimpses into his struggles with mental illness and drug abuse.


American Masters – Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is a production of Ley Line Entertainment in association with American Masters Pictures. Directed by Brent Wilson (no relation). Written by Jason Fine and Brent Wilson. Produced by Tim Headington, p.g.a., Theresa Steele Page, p.g.a. and Brent Wilson, p.g.a. Jason Fine is Executive Producer. Jean Sievers is Co-Producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer for American Masters.

About American Masters
Now in its 37th season on PBS, American Masters illuminates the lives and creative journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants—those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape—through compelling, unvarnished stories. Setting the standard for documentary film profiles, the series has earned widespread critical acclaim: 28 Emmy Awards—including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special—two News & Documentary Emmys, 14 Peabodys, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, an Oscar, and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of more than 250 masters past and present, the American Masters website offers full episodes, film outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the podcast “American Masters: Creative Spark,” educational resources, digital original series and more. The series is a production of The WNET Group.

American Masters is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

About The WNET Group
The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading nonprofit public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us.


Major funding for American Masters – Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is provided by National Endowment for the Arts.

Original series production funding for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judith & Burton Resnick, Seton J. Melvin, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Vital Projects Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Koo and Patricia Yuen and public television viewers.


♪♪ -I'm sure most everybody knows, but for anybody who might not, may we introduce you by name?

-Al Jardine. -Thank you, Al.

-Dennis Wilson. -Thank you.

-Brian Wilson. -Carl Wilson.

-Mike Love.

-Now, I think -- Whoop. What happened? There you are.

How long has this singing been going on?

About three years now.

-You know, it's an amazing thing because you have hit after hit.

Who determines, Brian, what will be done next?

-Well, I guess I do. I don't know.

-[ Laughter ] -I write the songs and produce them, so I have a lot to say about it.

[ Piano playing ] -Play hard and strong, all the way.

-You know the part. ♪ Do-do, do-do ♪ -Never more than just a... ♪ Do-do, do-do ♪ -Then what after that, Brian? -Let me hear the organ.

[ Organ playing ] -Perfect. Okay. We'll go with that. Let's go again, please.

-♪ I know myself, I know my real power ♪ ♪ Will get me through again ♪ -♪ Ahh-ahh ♪ -Here we go.

-♪ If you stick with it, baby, things work out ♪ ♪ You find a way to win ♪ -You've been out on this really long tour.


-You know, you've been recording several new albums.

You know, really non-stop since your late '50s era.

-Right, right. -Um... how do you explain that kind of burst of creativity and energy?

Where does the sudden surge of creativity and energy come for you?

-It starts in my brain, makes its way out onto the piano, and then on to the speakers in the studio.


-Is that something you can explain?

Is that something that's even explainable?

-No, I can't. I can't.

I'd like to start it out with the organ and the Fender bass.

[ 'Good Vibrations' intro plays ] -He was one of the first people to actually use the studio as an instrument itself.

-Play hard and strong, all the way.

-Really feel it, fellas.

-There's a certain amount of songwriting you can learn how to do and you can educate yourself, and then... -Watch me on that part. -It's just a fact that some people are just better than other people, and Brian's one of the people who's just better than other people.

-Are we ready? Let's go.

This is take five, 'Good Vibrations.'

♪♪ -♪ I'm pickin' up good vibrations ♪ -'Good Vibrations.' [Bleep] damn.

The idea that the chorus is at one studio and the verse is at another studio -- that's why that song is so freaky and so wonderful.

-♪ Excitations ♪ -'Good Vibrations' was recorded in four studios -- Western, Sunset Sound, Gold Star, and RCA Victor.

Well, each studio is different, you know?

Like, not any one studio's the same.

-♪ Excitations ♪ -He sets a very high standard for not just being innovative, but to also be emotionally evocative.

-♪ When I look in her eyes ♪ ♪ She goes with me to a blossom world ♪ ♪♪ ♪ I'm pickin' up good vibrations ♪ ♪ She's givin' me excitations ♪ -Well, he used all the orchestra.

He used orchestral things.

He used timpani. He used woodwind.

His musical knowledge wasn't just as a band.

He had an orchestra in his head.

-♪ Good vibrations ♪ -♪ Oom-bop-bop ♪ -♪ Excitations ♪ -♪ Good, good, good... ♪ -I mean, the Beatles had George Martin to do it for them, but Brian, he did it himself.

-♪ Exci-tations ♪ -Well, the Beatles were probably my favorite group.

Very, very inspirational with 'Rubber Soul.'

That made me write the 'Pet Sounds' album.

-♪ I don't know where, but she sends me there ♪ -The level of musicianship and musicality, I don't think anybody's touched it yet, for my money.

-♪ What elation ♪ ♪ Oh, my, my ♪ -Back at that time, there's a lot of upbeat, up-tempo songs, but Brian brought in this haunting harmony.

-♪ Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations ♪ -You know there's something going on with Brian Wilson.

There's no hiding that this man is troubled and trying to escape something.

-♪ Um-dee-dah, oh, oh ♪ -♪ Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations ♪ -He's just... one of the greatest artists who ever walked the face of the earth.

-♪ Ahh ♪ -In our time or in any time.

-♪ Good, good, good, good vibrations ♪ ♪ She's givin' me ♪ -♪ Bop-bop ♪ -♪ Excitations ♪ -♪ Good, good, good ♪ -♪ Bop-bop ♪ -♪ Good vibrations ♪ ♪ Ahh ♪ ♪ Na na na na na, na na na ♪ ♪ Na na na na na, na na na ♪ -♪ Bopa-bopa-bopa-ba, ba ♪ ♪♪ -While we're making the tapes, Bob, we won't be able to have that camera going.

[ Beep ] -It's a wonderful treat for me tonight to have heard and seen the Beach Boys.

-[ Girls screaming ] -And as you can hear in the background, the girls are still hollering for them.

I'm quite pleased to present to you two of them -- Brian Wilson on my right and Carl Wilson, his brother, on the left.

So this is just two of them.

In just a minute, you'll meet the rest of them, but... Brian, I understand that you've written many of the songs that you all have recorded.

And when you write a song, for yourself or for your group, what gives you the incentive to write them?

-Well, usually, just the fact that we're in the industry and there's a lot of groups competing with us, and I feel that competition, you know?

And also I just -- I love music.

And I get very inspired. Just generally creative anyway.

-Right. I understand. -I just do it all the time.

-Well, now, how many of them have you had that have been million-sellers?

-Well, actually, million-sellers -- We've had one million-seller.

That was 'I Get Around.' Just recently.

-You wrote this? -Yes, I did.

-♪ Round, round, get around ♪ -♪ I get around ♪ -♪ Yeah, get around, 'round, 'round, I get around ♪ ♪ I get around ♪ -♪ Get around, 'round, 'round ♪ -♪ I get around ♪ -♪ From town to town ♪ -♪ Get around, 'round, 'round ♪ -Here's this genius who just can't help but come up with these complex arrangements of harmonies, and then his little brother comes in and says, 'You guys should write songs about cars and surfing, 'cause that's what kids are into.'

-♪ I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip ♪ ♪♪ ♪ My buddies and me are gettin' real well-known, yeah... ♪ -Name some of them that you've written, Brian.

-Oh... -[ Chuckles ] Well, starting with 'Surfin'', our first record, 'Surfin' Safari.'

'409,' 'Surfer Girl,' 'Little Deuce Coupe,' 'Shut Down', 'Surfin' USA', 'Be True to Your School'... -'The Little Old Lady from Pasadena'? -That's Jan and Dean. -Is that right?

-And 'Fun, Fun, Fun.' -Oh, it goes on and on.

-'I Get Around.' 'Don't Worry, Baby.'

We had 'Little Saint Nick' at Christmastime.

Pardon me? -'When I Grow Up.'

-'When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)' and 'She Knows Me Too Well' are our latest records.

-Well, you certainly are a talented young man.

Let's talk to your brother just a minute.

Do you share this admiration for your brother?

-Yes. Well... -[ Both laugh ] -He's done very well with this, you know?

I mean, we've had very good luck with the records and everything.

-You're Carl, right? -Right.

-Carl's the lead guitar player. -Lead guitar.

How did you assemble the group?

-One day, as we were walking down the street, we all bumped heads.

-[ Laughter ] -I don't know.

-Seriously, Dennis got the idea that we should write something about surfing because he was a big avid surfer then.

-You're a surfer? -Yes, ma'am.

-Well, this is something we don't have much out in Oklahoma.

-Yeah, I know. -[ Laughs ] Thanks so much for stopping by.

-May I compliment you on your beautiful dress?

-It is beautiful. -Thank you. Thank you.

-Is it a gown or a dress?

-Well, actually it's sort of a beach-girl type outfit.

-I like that. -I wanted to be in style when I talked to the Beach Boys.

[ Laughter ] -[ Girls screaming ] -♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ Get around, 'round, 'round, I get around ♪ -At the end of the concert, the girls would all rush the stage to get Dennis.

You know, me and Mike and the guys would go, 'What's going on here,' you know?

The girls were all crying, 'Dennis, Dennis,' you know?

Yeah. He was our sex symbol.

-Right, right.

You and he had a little competition for some women sometimes, too, didn't you?

-Who, me and Dennis? -Yeah.

-No. -No?

-He was a ladies' man. I never was a ladies' man, you know?

-Right. -He was always the ladies' man.

-What prevented you from being a ladies' man, do you think?

-Ah, just shy of girls. A little shy.

-Uh-huh. Right.

[ Harpsichord playing ] ♪♪ [ Voices harmonizing ] -You can park right there. -In the handicapped?

-Yeah. Yeah. I always park there.

-Really? -Yeah.


These guys'll probably wanna move it, but I'll park here.

-Okay. I'm hungry.

-Alright. Let's get in there. -Okay.

[ Indistinct conversations ] -Must have been to this deli with you about 20 times.

-Yeah, at least 20.

-Right? -Right.

-Good times here. -Yeah.

It's -- I'm hot, you know?

-Yeah. -I'm nervous.

-Yeah. -I didn't sleep last night, and my head feels wacky.

-Oh, it does? -Yeah.

-Why don't we just relax? -Okay. Enjoy our food.

When you get scared, what do you do?

You just take a deep breath?

-If I get scared, I take a deep breath, but I take it -- try and take it from my belly.

-Oh, take it... [ Inhales deeply ] -Really deep in here. -Right.

-And then -- [ Exhales slowly ] How's your mood been?

-My mood? -Yeah.

-It's been about even. -Good.

-About even. Not depressed, not elated, just even.

-Mm-hmm. -Yeah.

-You feeling scared now? -A little bit.

-It's nice to be with you.

-You're a good guy, Jason.

-Thank you, Brian. You are, too.

-You are a cool person.

You have a very consistent way of talking, you know?

You sorta stay in this one space, you know, and talk.

-Hm. Does it make you feel comfortable?

-Yeah. Helps me out. -Good. I'm glad.

-When I'm scared, I listen to you talk, you know?

-Really? -Yeah.

-And thinking it'll calm you down?

-Yeah. -Alright, man.

Well, I'm there for you.

-I'm there for you, too.

-Thanks, man.

-I first met Brian in 1995.

I went to interview him for the paper I was working for at the time, and we had a nice chat.

And when I first came to work at in 1997, Brian had begun to start what was gonna be sort of a solo career.

He was putting a band together.

He was releasing a record called 'Imagination.'

And I convinced Jann, my boss, to let me go to Chicago, where he was rehearsing.

One of the first times we spoke, we were sitting in his living room.

We were talking, and sort of right in the middle of our chat, about 10 minutes in, he just started to fidget, and he said, 'I gotta go.'

And he got up and he left.

And I was sitting there.

I didn't know if he was coming back or -- or not coming back, and I waited a while.

And I just sorta started looking around, and I found myself in the kitchen, where I found Brian in the refrigerator.

I said, 'What's going on?'

He said, 'I just got a little scared.'

And I said, 'Well, what did you get scared of?'

He said, 'I don't know.

You know, sometimes I just get scared. Things scare me.'

I said, 'Like what?'

He said, 'Like 'What a Fool Believes.'

You know that song by the Doobie Brothers?

Scares the hell out of me.'

You know? And it was just like that.

And we started having these moments, and ever since then, it just kinda became part of my beat at -♪ Wouldn't it be nice if we were older? ♪ ♪ Then we wouldn't have to wait so long ♪ ♪ And wouldn't it be nice... ♪ -And we became buddies.

-♪ To live together ♪ -♪ In the kind of world where we belong ♪ -The idea of doing an interview makes Brian nervous, so he'll often ask if we can just take a drive and listen to some music.

Look at that old car. What kind of car is that?

-What is that? -I don't know.

-That a Rolls-Royce?

-I think it's -- I don't think it's a Rolls.

I think it's American, isn't it? Cadillac.

-Cadillac? -Yeah.

-Old Cadillac, right?

-Yeah. -From what, the '30s?

-Or maybe from the '40s?

-Maybe '40s. -Yeah.

Ask the guy. Yell it out. Ask him.

-Well, I can't. I don't -- -Hey, buddy! What year is that car?! -'41. -Thank you! '41.

-[ Laughs ] -♪ Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how ♪ ♪ Come on a safari with me ♪ -It was probably 'Surfin' Safari,' the first Beach Boys record I ever bought.

The voices, the tone of the voices, was so beautiful.

Bit like a classical choir, in a way.

It made California sound such an incredible place to go.

-You know, the rooftop is down. The story begins.

-And then they invite you into that world, and that world has its own rules and its own code and its own story to tell.

There was no greater world created in rock 'n' roll than the Beach Boys.

I mean, they defined Southern California for everybody around the world.

-It just took you out of where you were and took you to another place.

-♪ So if you're comin', get ready to go ♪ -Have you ever been to Paradise Cove?

-Years and years ago.

Do you remember when you were shooting the album cover for the Beach Boys' first album?

-Can't remember. [ Laughs ] -Right. It's a long time ago.

-Yep. -Was it a little bit funny singing all the songs about surfing without actually surfing?

-Yeah, Dennis surfed. I never learned how to surf.


-There's Paradise Cove.

-Here we are. Closer than I thought.

-♪ Surfin' safari ♪ -♪ Yes, I'm gonna take you surfin' with me ♪ -There it is! Look! -There it is!

[ Laughs ] -'This marks 'The Spot.'' -55 years ago.

-♪ Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how ♪ ♪ Come on a safari with me ♪ ♪ Come on a safari with me ♪ -♪ Surfin' safari ♪ -♪ Yeah, me ♪ -♪ Surfin' safari ♪ ♪ With me, with me... ♪ -How you feeling about Hawthorne?

-Uh, you know, I'm a little nervous to go back there.

You know what I mean? -Mm-hmm.

-'Cause, like, I grew up there, and it's, like, you know -- I have a lot of sentiments about it, you know?


[ Turn signal clicking ] Please play 'It's O.K.' on '15 Big Ones.'

-Okay. You got it.

-♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -So, has Hawthorne changed a lot from when you were young?

-Does is look -- Is it familiar-looking to you?

-[ Music shuts off ] -What's that?


-It doesn't look the same. It looks a little different.


So this is 119th Street right here.

-Yeah. 119th.

-And this is the street you lived on?


-So this is where your house was.

Right here. We can get out.

-I don't wanna get out. I just wanna look.


So this was all where the house was, right here?


-Uh-huh. Look at the cover of the album.

-Yeah. -Paradise Cove.

'Site of the childhood home of the Beach Boys.'

♪ There's a world where ♪ -♪ I can go and ♪ ♪ Tell my secrets to ♪ -♪ In my room ♪ -Friday nights, my father would get his paycheck.

So the three of us would be in the back seat singing away.

And that's -- Actually that's the birth of the three brothers singing together.

-♪ In this world ♪ -[ Girls screaming ] -♪ I lock out all my worries ♪ ♪ And my fears ♪ ♪ In my room ♪ -When we'd be singing harmony together, my father would just... fall down crying with joy.

-♪ In my room ♪ -♪ In my room ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Do my dreaming ♪ -There's me at my piano when I wrote 'Surfer Girl.'

-♪ Lie awake and pray ♪ [ Girls screaming ] -[ Laughs ] Forget it.

That one killed you when it came out.

I played that thing... a thousand times.

[ Laughs ] -♪ Yesterday ♪ ♪ Now it's dark ♪ ♪ And I'm alone ♪ ♪ But I won't be afraid ♪ -How did it feel to be there?

-It was a little -- Scared me a little bit, you know?

-Did it? -'Cause it didn't look the same.



-♪ So faithfully, you ♪ -♪ Still believe ♪ ♪ In me ♪ -♪ I wanna cry ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ -♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ♪ -Is this Dartmouth? -To your right. Right, right.

♪♪ -This is where you moved with Marilyn.


-Was it right after you got married?

-About three months after we got married.

-Wow. What a big time in your life.

-Yeah. I did an acid trip there.

-A-ha! Your fir-- The first time?


Oh, it was scary.

-What happened?

-I don't know. Just... This friend of mine gave me acid, and it freaked me out.

[ 'California Girls' intro plays ] I wrote 'California Girls,' 'Help Me, Rhonda,' and 'She's Not the Little Girl I Once Knew.'

I wrote all those songs there.

-Were you still high when you were doing that?

-Uh, no. No, I wasn't.

I wrote 'California Girls' about a week or two after acid.

-Okay. Did you have a kind of Western thing in mind?

Well, I just had this -- ♪ Doobie doobie, doo ♪ I guess that's Western, right?

-♪ Well, East Coast girls are hip ♪ ♪ I really dig those styles they wear ♪ ♪ And the Southern girls with the way they talk ♪ ♪ They knock me out when I'm down there ♪ -Did you have a feeling that was gonna be a popular song?

-Oh, yeah, I could tell when I first wrote it.

After we cut it, Mike did the lead, boy, and he sang great lead.

He's a great singer.

-♪ And the Northern girls with the way they kiss ♪ ♪ They keep their boyfriends warm at night ♪ ♪♪ -♪ I wish they all could be California girls ♪ -♪ I wish they all could be California ♪ -It was quite a different change-up from what I usually wrote.

-The way you connected the intro of the song... -Right. the rest of it was... -A different kind of a thing.

-Brian just threw away the rule book, and it was all in his head, and it's just, 'Wow. Are you kidding me?'

-'What were you thinking, man?

How did you come up with this combination of chords and voices?'

He said, 'I was at the piano, and I was trying not to move my highest fingers and my lowest fingers, but make cool geometric patterns with the internal fingers.'

I don't know if he was telling me the truth.

[ Laughs ] But he definitely said that to me.

But if you think about that, that's kind of like what Mozart does with a string quartet.

-Brian had this unique ability to write a great melody and also arrange some great harmonies and produce some great records, so we had all in one with Brian Wilson.

We had a, shall we call it... the jackpot.

-Equate that blend, that harmony, the sound of the vocals.

It's like looking up to the heavens.

It's almost ethereal. There's a very ethereal rising up.

-♪ I wish they all could be... ♪ -The only way to really accomplish a sound that big is in knowing what you want to hear, but also placing some trust in the people you're working with and saying, 'We can all do this together if you just follow my lead.'

-♪ I wish they all could be California ♪ -Brian was a leader, and he could shape this group around the brothers, you know, and his cousin and his neighbor.

And that was his team, and he led these guys.

And I think that that was -- gave Brian so much confidence.

They would do anything that he thought was the right thing to do.

♪ ...Could be California girls... ♪ -Hey, let's go -- Where do you want to go to now?

-So, let's go to Laurel Way.

-Okay. -You know how to get there?

-Laurel Way. Trying to think. Uh... -Go up Santa Monica or Sunset?

-Laurel Way. Can you navigate it?


What did you feel like when you lived here and... you were young, married, money, writing hits?

What was that feeling for you?

-Excitement. Exciting and happy.

Groovy feeling.

Haven't seen it since 1966.

-♪ I had to prove that I could make it alone now ♪ ♪ But that's not me ♪ ♪♪ ♪ I wanted to show how independent I'd grown now ♪ ♪ But that's not me ♪ -Were your parents around then? Did they come visit?

-No, they never did.

-Was this your first sort of big purchase?


-That must have been a really exciting time.

-It was, Jason. It was a great time.

-♪ Just one girl ♪ ♪♪ ♪ I'm a little bit scared ♪ ♪ 'Cause I haven't been home in a long time ♪ ♪♪ -It's right up here. I think it's right up there.

-This one?

-No, it has a view, so it's gotta be a little higher.


-It has a view of the whole downtown Los Angeles.

-Oh, wow. -All the way to the beach.

-Did you have a room where you would work?

-The piano was in a sandbox.

-What was the idea behind that?

-I don't know. I just wanted to have a sandbox.

-[ Chuckles ] While you worked?

-Yeah. Took our shoes and socks off.

And I wrote, you know, music on a piano in the sandbox.

I put an Arabian tent up in my den, and I put, like, eight Tiffany lamps in the living room, hanging from the ceiling.

It was a trip.

-[ Laughs ] It sounds like it.

What'd you do inside the tent?

-Smoked grass. -Uh-huh.

-Ate peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.

You know... Young and rich.

-♪ I'm glad I went ♪ ♪ Now I'm that much more sure that we're ready ♪ -That's where I wrote the 'Pet Sounds' album and 'Good Vibrations.'

-Wow. That's some pretty big stuff you wrote up here.


-So you think you'd wanna tour more?

-Yeah, I like to go on the road.

-What do you like about it?

-The concerts. -Yep.

-Makes you feel good?

-Yeah. It's fun to play a concert.


[ Crowd cheering ] -You used to get nervous, but not so much anymore, huh?

-No, before a concert, I got very nervous.

-How long does it take you to calm down on stage?

-About two minutes.

[ Crowd cheering ] -To this day, Brian's still even a little bit nervous about 'Pet Sounds,' you know?

'Are they gonna like it? Is it too soft?'

Is it manly?' he'll say sometimes.

-Hello, Los Angeles!

The Hollywood Bowl!

[ Cheers and applause ] [ 'Caroline, No' intro plays ] ♪♪ -♪ Where did your long hair go? ♪ ♪ Where is that girl I used to know? ♪ ♪ How could you lose ♪ ♪ That happy glow? ♪ ♪ Oh, Caroline, no ♪ -Well, you have the great 'Caroline, No.'

It's one of the greatest songs in pop history, as far as dealing with oncoming adulthood, loss of innocence, reckoning with the adult world... and the terrible heartache that comes along with it.

-♪ But that's not true ♪ ♪ Well, Caroline, you ♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -I can hear him exploring the possibilities of these songs that he probably woke up, dug his feet in the sand, and wrote these songs.

-♪ Could I ever find in you again ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Things that made me love you so much then ♪ -He started out writing happy songs, and then, as he grew as a musician, his tastes refined, his writing refined, and he wanted to get away from the three-chord thing and experiment, and when you do that, you are drawn to the darker side.

I know I am.

-Brian's music, you know, especially 'Pet Sounds,' you never move on from it.

I'll be listening to that record till the day I die.

-'Pet Sounds' -- the beauty of it carries with it a sense of... joyfulness even in the pain of living.

The joyfulness of an emotional life.

-You have this music bed that is so complex, but the lyrics were very simple.

All these concepts of things that we all ask ourselves, and it's there forever.

50 years later, we're still celebrating what is probably one of the greatest records ever made.

[ Crowd cheering ] [ ] [ ] -Whoa!

I don't even know what that is.

Flutes and reverb? I don't know, man.

[ Isolated vocals ] -♪ ♪ -Whoa.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -[ Chuckling ] -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -♪ ♪ -[ Click, music shuts off ] -I don't even know where to begin.

-Probably took a minute for everyone to wrap their heads around a 23-year-old kid coming in and telling 'em what was up.

[ -That's a banjo. It is a banjo, huh?

[ Chuckles ] -Brian always had this thing where he used the fifth note of a chord as the bass note.

'God Only Knows' is a prime example of that.

♪ I may not always ♪ With the bass note.

And 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight' is exactly the same.

[ ] -So you can hear the other instruments.

They're all in one room at the same time playing.

[ ] -With Brian's music, you hear his spirit, and it's like... he may be playing a 'C' chord, but there's, like, this other weird harmony drifting in over it.

He's using the available tools that all of us have.

You know, it may be a piano or a harpsichord or a guitar or whatever, but it's all in the architecture or the recording technique.

Everybody has a piano or a guitar.

Go grab whatever the [bleep] you want, but it's the way you put in the strangeness, that's what he's the master of.

-Listen to that basic track.

Sounds to me like it's maybe a piano and a banjo and a harmonica kind of all becoming one sound.

Brian had to sit home, dream up these textures that no one had ever, ever used.

♪♪ That's one reason why people say Brian's a genius.

That's being a complete visionary, to dream up these textures that never existed before.

-I'm still awestruck by the construction, how he took very complex arrangements, and yet, at the end of the day, they sounded so simple when they entered your ear.

-♪ I'd be without you ♪ -I think his imagination is what made him a great producer.

We can all sit here and say we have all the technology and we know how to use it and we know how to do it, but the bottom line is it doesn't matter what you know, it's what you're gonna do.

-♪ God only knows what I'd be without you ♪ -♪ God only knows ♪ -I've been making records for 40-some years, and I don't know how you do this.

I don't know how you do that.

Nobody knows! [ Laughs ] -What I hear is his competitive nature, him wanting to be more than what everybody else was.

And you can totally hear how he was trying to make things sound better than the Beatles.

But I think, more so, his biggest competitor was himself.

-♪ Without you ♪ -How was that? Was that cool?

-That's beautiful. -Alright.

-When he started doing the music around 'Pet Sounds,' which was more complex, more orchestral, more personal, you know, the guys started saying, 'Whoa, now,' you know?

I mean, 'Where are we going with this?

You know, this isn't about cars and girls anymore.'

And things started to fragment.

And I don't think it's any wonder that Brian started to lose his confidence around that time.

♪♪ ♪♪ When you think about recording or touring, do you feel like you still have something to accomplish musically?

Do you still have things you want to get -- you want to do?

-Yeah, I want to make a rock-'n'-roll album.


-Maybe something good, you know? -Yeah.

-What's rock 'n' roll to you?

-Rock 'n' roll? -Yeah.

-Chuck Berry, you know.

-Little Richard. -Mm-hmm.

I recently watched the 'Smile' concert.


-Wow. You looked really happy that night.

-Yeah, that was fun. -Was it hard to pull off?

-We premiered 'Smile' and 'Lucky Old Sun' album.

2004 and 2005.

-When you let it go, when you stopped working on it in '67, was that a hard thing for you?

-Yeah, it was rough, yeah.

Me and Van Dyke got so into it, you know.

We really got into it.

-When you premiered Smile, how'd you feel?

I mean, it must have been a big relief.

-Well, it was a big challenge to try to pull it off, you know?


-But we did. It went over very well.

♪♪ -♪ I've been in this town so long that back in the city ♪ ♪ I've been taken for lost and gone ♪ ♪ Unknown for a long, long time ♪ -♪ Doo, do-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo ♪ -♪ Fell in love years ago with an innocent girl ♪ ♪ From the Spanish and Indian home ♪ ♪ Of the heroes and villains ♪ -Around 2004, Brian decided that he was going to come back and work on 'Smile,' the, you know, most famous unreleased album of all time, something that he had abandoned around 1967, and I think, in retrospect, probably wisely, because it was proving to be insurmountable for all kinds of reasons.

-♪ What a dude'll do in this town ♪ ♪ Full of heroes and villains ♪ -♪ Doo-doo, doobie-doo-wah ♪ -He was terrified. He didn't want to do it.

And then, slowly, something about the music reconnected emotionally.

-♪ Fell in love years ago with an innocent girl ♪ ♪ From the Spanish and Indian home ♪ -So all those bad associations that he had were being replaced with good ones.

-♪ Next time I'll leave my hat off ♪ -And it became more about the music again.

-♪ Heroes and villains ♪ ♪ Just see what you've done ♪ -♪ Doo doo doo doo ♪ -Some of the stuff on that record was pretty wild, on 'Smile.'

-Yeah, some of that stuff was pretty complicated.

-Yeah. -Complex.

-Mm-hmm. Why'd you let it go?

-We thought it was a little ahead of its time.

-Right. -We waited for, like, 30 years.

And we finally finished it.

-♪ La la la la, la la la la la ♪ ♪ La la, la la la la la la ♪ -It became something that was living now, as opposed to something that was dead in his mind.

-We're not picking up all your notes.

You can feel it, but you can't really hear it.

-In fact, we couldn't bring up that stuff.

-We couldn't even say the words 'Heroes and Villains.'

-'Cause he would freak out.

-What now? God, there are so many parts to this damn song.

-[ Laughter ] -It's endless!

It's endless and endless and endless! It never ends!

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -♪ La la la la, la la ♪ -When you listen to 'Smile' with that ear of hearing how segmental it was and yet how seamlessly he put it together, it's quite wonderful.

-♪ There shall be peace in the valley ♪ ♪ And it's all an affair ♪ ♪ Of my life with the heroes and villains ♪ -I remember sitting with him, and I handed him the CD, and I said, 'Brian, that's 'Smile.' You finished it.'

You know, I could really see it meant something to him because it was a disappointment that he'd been carrying around.

Being able to finish it at last, even though it was 30 years later, was a big moment in his life.

-♪ Da-doobie-doobie-da ♪ ♪ Doobie-doobie-doo-wah ♪ ♪♪ -Do you still get ideas for different ways to produce?

-Who, me? -Things, sounds -- Yeah.

-Well, usually, you know, recording's a little slower these days.

-Mm-hmm. -You know?

What's your process like?

-The process? -Yeah.

-Start with a background track.

-Mm-hmm. -Then you do the... background vocals, then you do the leads.

-Okay. -Like we'll do today.

[ Guitar and piano notes playing ] -Will I be on keys? -That's correct.

[ Organ notes playing ] -What's been making you feel like making a rock-'n'-roll record?

-Uh, I don't know.

Well, actually, 'Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)' was a rock-'n'-roll album. -Yep.

-But I'd like to do another one with covers instead of originals. -Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

-Is your click okay?

[ Guitars strumming ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ -How do you feel about spending a few days with your band?

-I think it'll be nice to be back with 'em, you know?

-It's about time we all recorded like this.

[ Guitar notes playing ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -And we are here.

-I'm nervous.

-It's like you say when you go on stage -- nervous for about two minutes.

-Right, and then as soon as I hear 'California Girls,' I'm cool.

-One, two. -You got this.

-One, two, three.

[ Piano playing ] -♪ Doo, doo ♪ Right there.

One, two, three.

♪♪ ♪ Duh-duh ♪ ♪♪ No, on that 'duh.'

-Are you sure it's that? -Yeah.

Yeah, that's it.

[ Piano playing, guitar strumming ] [ Piano note plays ] -I'll play the piano.

-Yeah! Now we're talkin'! -Hi, Russ. -How you doing, Brian?

-I'm good. How are you? -Doing alright.

♪♪ -Okay.

♪♪ Hi, Tom!

-Hi, Brian. -How are ya?

-Good. How are you? -Good.

-We need a click, Wes! -It's coming.

-What's coming?

-The click. -Oh.

[ Piano playing ] Okay. It's cool. The click'll help ya!

-Okay. -One, two, three.

♪♪ -Paul! -Yeah?

-It's just... -[ Three piano notes play ] [ Saxophone plays four notes ] -No. -[ Piano plays three notes ] -Okay. -One, two, three.

♪♪ -Hey, Paul. -Yeah?

-Play staccato. Bah, bah, bah. -Okay.

[ Saxophone plays three staccato notes ] -Yeah. -Ooh!

-One, two, three, four.

♪♪ Hold it! The guitar sounds a little fuzzy.

-[ Guitar tone changes ] -See if that's better.

-Okay. One, two, three, four.

♪♪ Yeah, we're cool.

Let's try one. -Okay.

-One. Two. One, two, three!

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Two. A-one, two, three, four.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ Band stops playing ] Yeah, it can fall apart. That's cool.

-Pretty good. -I think that's a print.

Wanna go in the booth.

Can we come in the booth and hear it?

-Yes. -Okay.

[ ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -Listen. Syncopate it a little.

Yeah. What are the words? Sing it.

-Since you put me down, I've been arguing in my head.

-Let me hear. Sing it. Sing it.

-♪ Since you put me down ♪ -No.

♪ Since you put me down ♪ [ Scatting ] -Sing the words. -Okay. I can't do it.

-♪ Since you put me down ♪ [ Scatting ] -Loosen up. Loosen up, sweetie. Loosen up.

-My dad owned the publishing with Brian, and he managed the group for 10%. -I just remember there was a lot of tension with my dad and Brian.

-You guys think you're good?

Can we hear a chord?

Just a chord, like we used to.

When you used to sing clear records, okay? Let's go.

-His presence was very... Where he'd burst into a room, you know?

-And beat everyone up. -[ Laughs ] -I got beaten around by my dad.

One kind of spanking is... -[ Slap ] -But the way I had it, Dad would double over his belt.

His voice -- [ Shouting ] Very, very hard.

Pretty tough business.

-His dad was extremely tough on him, abusive at times.

You can hear this in all the old tapes from those studio sessions where his dad takes it way too far.

-We just wanna be sure this is our thing.

-This is an absolute insult.

-Well, you're doing the same to me in front of 20 people.

-I'm sorry. I'll never help you guys... -Why? -Because you don't appreciate the good help I have given you.

-We all appreciate the help. -You've got a beautiful gift.

And when you guys start coming off... Now, listen. Let me tell you something.

-Yes. -When you guys get so big that you can't sing from your hearts, you're going downhill.

-Downhill? -Down...hill!

-♪ How deep is the ocean? ♪ ♪ How deep is the ocean? ♪ -♪ Ahh ♪ -And as we got older, we told him we didn't want him to manage us anymore.

It's very simple.

-It got to the point where he was so overbearing to work with that we had to fire him.

-♪ I'm a rock in a landslide ♪ ♪ Rolling over the mountainside ♪ ♪ How deep is the valley? ♪ ♪ How deep is the valley? ♪ ♪ Ahh ♪ -♪ It kills my soul ♪ ♪ Hey, hey, hey ♪ -Why did you move from Laurel Way to Bellagio?

-Marilyn wanted to move to Bel Air.

-Was it a bigger house?

-What, Bellagio? -Yeah.

-Much bigger. -Much bigger, I see.

-I had, like, a den that we built a recording studio.

You remember that? -Yeah.

Is this the house where Elton came over?


-Going to Brian Wilson's house with Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night was just the most amazing, surreal trip for me.

Here we are, in Brian Wilson's house, who we used to lay on the floor and listen in our headphones to all his beautiful music.

It of the most moving nights of my life, and he tried to sell me his piano, as well.

[ Laughs ] But to that time, he went through such a dark period of his life.

-So Bellagio is kind of where things got difficult for you, huh?

-Yeah. -What was going on?

-Uh...I was just kind of lonesome and, you know... hung out in my bedroom for a while.

-What were you staying in your bedroom for?

-I don't really know. I was having mental problems.

-Yeah. Yeah.

And everyone always says, oh, you stayed in your bedroom for years.

You didn't really do that.

-No. For a couple weeks. -Yeah.

♪♪ -Sometimes you question yourself, and I think, especially when you grapple with demons, and you think, 'Well, do I deserve this?

Am I worthy of this?'

And, you know, I think about Brian being saddled with the term 'genius' from such an early age.

That's gotta weigh on you so much.

-♪ Lost my way ♪ -I think about someone like Brian, and coming into this when he was becoming a man and really starting to make the music that would change the world in a lot of ways.

And the pressure that comes with that.

You know, the pressure to continue to perform at that level and continue to be the person that people think you are supposed to be.

You know, you deal with a lot of disappointment.

Expectations are the foundation for disappointments.

-♪ When there's no morning ♪ ♪ Without you ♪ ♪ There's only darkness ♪ ♪ The whole day through ♪ -Most people in the music business are a little crazy in a variety of different ways.

I think you wish, for the people who delivered so much to you, you wish them happiness and a long life.

You know, if you see someone who's going through a lot of pain, you wish, like, hey, nothing but good things.

-♪ All these memories ♪ ♪ Made me feel like stone ♪ ♪♪ ♪ All these people ♪ ♪ Make me feel so alone ♪ -I think it's safe to say that creative people are usually sensitive people.

That door to drugs and alcohol is an easy door to walk through.

-Brian Wilson was crying for help a long time ago.

He put it in there, under this happiness.

It is like the His tones that he chose, or those harmonies, were there on purpose.

Was this him calling out that, 'I need help'? -♪ Midnight's another day ♪ -Remember the song 'Long Promised Road'? -Of course.

-Carl recorded it there at Bellagio House.

-Uh-huh. -At our house.

And he had me come down to sing part of the bridge.

-Mm-hmm. -So, okay.

♪ Long promised road ♪ I went... ♪ Bah-bah-bah-bah ♪ I wrote that part. -[ Chuckles ] You kind of came down from your bedroom and did that and then went back up? -Yeah.

-♪ Long promised road ♪ -♪ Bah-bah-bah-bah ♪ -♪ Trail starts at dawn ♪ ♪ Carries on to the season's ending ♪ ♪ Long promised road ♪ -Carl and Dennis were really different guys, weren't they?

-Yeah, Carl was a little easier-going.

Dennis was a little more hyper.

-Mm-hmm. -Carl was like... an easygoing kind of person, you know?

-Mm-hmm. I was listening to Dennis' record recently.

-Oh, 'Pacific Ocean Blue'? -Wow.

I have never heard his album.

-Oh, man. -I heard... ♪ I'll never make the headlines or ♪ ♪ And the evening news ♪ -Mm-hmm.

-I thought, 'Gosh.' I heard that one.


-But I think there's 11 or 12 that I haven't heard yet.

-Oh, my God. 'River Song'? Did you ever hear that one?


-Let's listen to it when we get back to your house.

-Is it, like, pretty cool? -It's amazing.

-He made good music, didn't he? -He sure did.

The record is really spectacular.

You're gonna love it.

-I like his song 'Forever.' -Oh, yeah. Oh, my God.

-Thought that was beautiful. -So beautiful.

[ Dennis Wilson's 'Forever' plays ] ♪♪ -Yeah, I miss him.

♪♪ -♪ If every word I said could make you laugh ♪ ♪ I'd talk forever ♪ -Brian's relationship with his brothers, he loved them so much.

-♪ I ask the sky just what we had ♪ ♪ Mmm, it shone forever ♪ -Carl was just a nice, soft person, and he was the peacekeeper in the family.

And Brian was the genius, the introvert.

And Dennis was probably everything Brian wanted to be.

And Brian was everything Dennis wanted to be.

And there in the middle you get that beautiful tug-and-pull.

A beautiful brotherly relationship.

-♪ Forever ♪ -This is just his little brother talking, but to see Brian on stage and see all the people respond to Brian is so overwhelming.

It's so wonderful.

To listen to a Brian Wilson composition, the only thing stemming from that, the roots, is the love.

It's love.

-♪ Ooh ♪ -♪ Together, my love ♪ ♪♪ -Do you remember him talking to you about the record?

-He came over and he played me just the 'Evening News' song.

I never listened to his album till right now.

-♪ ♪ -Alright.

-♪ ♪ -Can you make it a little louder?

♪ ♪ -If you ask Elvis Costello or Roger Taylor or Peter Buck from REM, I've heard all of these people talk about this record, of it being this, like, lost jewel.

It's a bummer that it didn't slow him down or knock some sense into him and say, 'Lookit, dude. you are a great artist.'

♪♪ -♪ ♪ -Alright!

-This could be cool for the rock-'n'-roll record.

-Yeah. -♪ ♪ -Good. -♪ ♪ -Dennis was just an impulsive hell-raising dude, but had a big heart, you know, and loved his brother.

-♪ ♪ -Alright.

-Do you wanna hear one more? -I wanna hear it all.

-♪ ♪ -Yeah.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ ] ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ -This guy called me up, he goes, 'Brian, I'm sorry to tell you this, but your brother Dennis drowned tonight.'

I got this terrible feeling in my chest, you know?

Really scared me.

-♪ Farewell, my friend ♪ -I have had two losses in my family in the last 10 years, and it's been hard for me.

The first loss was very hard. It was my father.

And then, of course, my brother Dennis.

[ Camera shutters clicking ] We go back about 21 years, you know, and it's hard to lose a brother and somebody who had such a vital, energetic thing about him, and, uh... I just don't want to talk anymore about it.

-♪ Oh, that's when I'll see you again ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Farewell ♪ -[ ] -Alright.

-It's always a great day when you can ride to Malibu.

-Taking a peaceful drive to our stomping grounds.

-Yeah, you have lot of history in Malibu.

-Yeah. Nine years.


♪♪ -Yeah, I served time for nine years.

-[ Laughs ] Is it like a prison sentence?

-Yeah, it was like -- Yeah, in a way, yeah.

-♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ Oh, oh, oh, oh ♪ -♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ Whoa, oh, oh, oh ♪ -♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -I contribute. I'm a contributor.

-♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -In my personal story, it really didn't work out so well.

I did my dose of LSD, it shattered my mind, and I, you know, came back, thank God, in I don't know how many pieces.

-I think what happened was that it became too painful for him.

-I was terrified for my brother.

-Why in the world would a man with that kind of God-given talent need any help from drugs?

-I have been taught the difference by my psychiatrist, thank God, of a natural high and a drug high.

I mean, drugs are a definite balance of heaven and hell.

You go to heaven, then you go right to hell.

-What made you come back, Brian?

-I probably came back out of will.

Just -- My name is Wilson.

Maybe that's where I got the will.

-♪ I'm a cork on the ocean ♪ ♪ Floating over the raging sea ♪ -They're called auditory hallucinations.

You're normal, and then all of a sudden you start hearing voices in your head.

-The voices say, 'I'm gonna hurt you, I'm gonna kill you,' yeah.

I was afraid the devil came in the form of other people that were competing with me, that had ideas of killing me and getting rid of me.

Everywhere I looked, I would say, 'Aah! The devil's after me.'

-♪ I'm a rock in a landslide ♪ -What people have a tendency to do that suffer with depression is they use drugs and alcohol to medicate themselves.

-It's called nepenthe. Numbing the soul.

-♪ The valley ♪ ♪ How deep is the valley? ♪ -♪ It kills my soul ♪ ♪ Hey, hey, hey ♪ -♪ Ohh ♪ -If I had not taken control, he could be dead.

He had a year or two to live, and he'd have died.

We are worried that Brian Wilson is gonna follow Elvis.

-Oh, God, no.

-♪ Ahh-ahh-ahh ♪ -We met back in 1986, during the Landy years.

As time went on, he became...captive.

-I wasn't allowed to call my family or my friends at all for nine years.

He doped me up with medication.

He kept me doped up so I couldn't resist what he told me to do.

-Why? -He's a control freak.

He just -- He gets off on controlling people.

-♪ Ahh ♪ ♪ Mmm ♪ -Was it hard to let go?

-A little bit hard for me to let go, yeah. It was hard.

-When you've had a control figure in your life for that long a period.

-Nine years, starting from 1983 to 1992.

It was nine years of control.

[ Piano playing ] -♪ Well, I get anxious, I get scared a lot ♪ ♪ I learned to live with it ♪ -♪ Ahh ♪ -♪ It should get better really any day now ♪ ♪ Some days it really did ♪ -He's the one that's done all this.

He's had support, like I say.

And he's had emotional security, but he is the one that's pulled himself out of the darkness, back into the sunlight.

[ ] -Dr. Landy controlled a lot of aspects of your life.


-Was he a pretty tough taskmaster?

-He was rough, yeah. He was rough.

He did things like he made me eat spaghetti off the floor.

-Uh-huh. -Crazy things, you know?

-Why did he do that?

-I don't know. He just acted crazy.

-Mm-hmm. -He goes, 'Alright.

I want you to eat your spaghetti off the floor.'

I said, 'Oh, man!' He goes, 'I said eat your...' You know, he was real mean, you know?

And then about two weeks, three weeks later, he went, 'Hi, Brian,' in a real friendly tone, you know?

That was really quite an experience.

-Kind of a mind trip. -Yeah.

-♪ ♪ -♪ Sail on, sailor ♪ ♪♪ -♪ ♪ -Yeah, he didn't let me call my family.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -That must have been hard. Your daughters were growing up.

-Oh, it was, Jason, it was.

-♪ Awake, awake ♪ ♪ My darling ♪ ♪ The dawn ♪ ♪ Has brought the day ♪ ♪ Awake, awake ♪ ♪ My darling ♪ ♪ You mustn't sleep your life away ♪ -So, do you have a hard time making sense of the good parts and the bad parts?

-No, I took the bad with the good with him, you know?


-Balancing the two together, you know?


-You know what I did for a little while?

-What? -When I was, like, really fat.

I ate two New York steaks for breakfast and a big piece of birthday cake.

-Really? -Yeah.

-I shot up to 311.

-Oh, my God. -Oh, Jason, I was so fat.

And when Eugene Landy came into my life, he had me weigh myself.

I weighed 311, and he goes, 'We're going to Kona, Hawaii, and you're gonna start exercising.'

So, in about five or six months, I [bleep] damn lost... went from 311 to 185.

Can you believe that?

-Oh, man! -Isn't that amazing?

-Why do you think you were eating so bad?

-Uh, I was just being stupid.


So, what was it like when Landy took you to Hawaii?

-Well, I had to kick three main drug habits at the same time.

So I spent a few nights tossing and turning and rolling in the bed, moaning and groaning, and it was like a guy kicking heroin, you know?

-Whoa. -Oh, it was rough.

I had to kick cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine.

-All at once?

-All at once, yeah. -Whoa.

-That was one of the roughest trips I ever took.

-Yeah. -Which was the hardest to stop?

-Um, the roughest was the cigarettes.

-He motivated you.

-He sure did, yeah.

-But on the bad side, he controlled you.

-Yeah, he did.

He made money off my name, you know?

-Yeah. -Yeah.

-The thing about Eugene Landy was that he was supposed to be watching Brian's diet and taking care of him physically and trying to get him to lose weight and stop living a bad lifestyle.

He kind of overstepped his boundaries or something, whatever boundaries there were supposed to be, and got involved in songwriting and production and stuff like that.

That was kind of a real drag.

When people realized how bad that was, I think that started the wheels turning pretty quickly to get rid of Landy.

The day that that happened, Brian called me, and he said, 'I'm free now. I can do whatever I want.

What are you doing, Andy?'

And I said, 'I'm doing nothing. What do you wanna do?'

And he said, 'I want to write songs.'

-Trying to think of what I want to hear.

Play... 'Long Promised Road.'

-Great call.

Here it is.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -It's a really cool track.

Did he write the words? Carl?

-Yeah. Jack Rieley wrote 'em.

-Okay. -Yeah.

-He died not too long ago.

-Jack died? -A few years ago, yeah.

-How do you know that?

-Somebody that I knew knew him and told me that.

-Where was he living, in Amsterdam?

-Yeah, in Europe. I don't know if it was in Amsterdam.

-He died? -Yeah.

-Oh, man. -A few years back.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -That's enough.

[ Music shuts off ] -Jack seemed like a really fun guy.

-Yeah. He's the one who thought of going to Holland.

-Uh-huh. -You know?

What did Jack die of?

-I'm not sure.

Was he older than you?

-Uh, I think he was about the same age as me.


-Would you play, um... Uh... 'It's O.K.' by the Beach Boys?

-Heck yeah. -On '15 Big Ones.'

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -Really cool line. -Yeah.

♪♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -That broke my heart when I heard Jack Rieley died.

-Oh, man. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

-Absolutely -- Absolutely broke my heart.

♪♪ About three years ago? -I think so, yeah, maybe more.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -Any other ones you wanna hear?


Play... Don't play anything. I've heard enough today.


[ 'Love and Mercy' plays ] ♪♪ -♪ I was sittin' in this crummy movie ♪ ♪ With my hands upon my chin ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Oh, the violence that sometimes occurs ♪ ♪ Seems like we never win ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Love and mercy ♪ ♪ That's what you need tonight ♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -♪ So love and mercy ♪ ♪ I was lying in my room, and the news comes on TV ♪ -♪ Nah, nah, nah ♪ -You've gotta be tough to go through what he's been through, personally and musically and with his family and stuff with his dad.

You've gotta be tough to survive that.

-♪ Nah, nah ♪ -♪ Love and mercy ♪ ♪ That's what you need tonight ♪ -♪ Ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ So love and mercy to you ♪ ♪ And your friends tonight ♪ -The odds were not on Brian, but the fact that he is still here and performing and making music, that's a miracle, kind of, isn't it?

Really, it is.

I wonder if he sees it that way.

-♪ So love and mercy to you ♪ ♪ And your friends tonight ♪ -♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ Love and mercy tonight ♪ ♪♪ -Here's your old spot. -Moonshadows.

♪♪ Good. I think they have a dance floor there.

Had a couple glasses of wine, feel good, then I went and danced.

-Right. -For a little while.

-I never knew you were a big dancer.

-I can't dance very good, Jason.

-[ Chuckles ] You did -- I saw that you did a lot of dancing at your wedding.


-When the spirit moves you?

-[ Laughs ] Yeah.

-Tell me the story of when you and Melinda decided to get married.

-We were staying in a house on Ferrari.

-Uh-huh. -And she goes, 'Aren't you going to ask me to get married?'

I said, 'Yeah.' She goes, 'Yeah!'

-[ Laughs ] -I said, 'Would you marry me?' She goes, 'Yeah!'

-[ Laughs ] You must have been pretty excited.

-Yeah, we got married in Palos Verdes.

-Mm-hmm. -1995.

-To speak... -To speak... -...and to listen. -...and to listen.

-To inspire... -To inspire... -...and to respond. -And what?

-And to respond. -And to respond.

[ Laughter ] -♪ That you noticed me ♪ ♪ And brought back harmony ♪ ♪ To this lonely soul ♪ ♪ Oh, it's a revelation ♪ -To Brian and Melinda. -[ Cheering ] -♪ I feel alive again ♪ ♪ There are no limitations with love ♪ [ Applause ] -When did you guys decide to have kids?

-We adopted. -Yeah.


-That must have been a big deal, adopting new kids.

-Yeah, that was a trip.

-♪ Must be a miracle ♪ ♪ Must be a miracle ♪ -One, two, three, swing.

One, two, three, swing.

-♪ Maybe this miracle's for me ♪ -Those kids are, like, very creative and playful.

I learned love from them, the way they express love.

Yeah. It's inspiring. It really is, yeah.

-♪ Have you ever seen ♪ ♪ Blue eyes and long black hair? ♪ ♪ Poetry in motion, she's the dream of every guy ♪ -I don't think there would've been a third act if it hadn't have been for Melinda.

Brian found his salvation.

He went through such a dark period of his life.

And whenever I see them, they're just like a very happy, ordinary married couple with children.

He loves her. She loves him.

Again, he's not a person to live a lavish lifestyle.

He's just a California boy that likes to make music and be with his family.

-♪ Miracle ♪ -He doesn't deserve just the accolades about the music.

He deserves the accolades about his personal life.

♪♪ [ ] [ ] ♪♪ -Do you remember the day you came to Trancas to your birthday party?

-Yeah, McCartney was there.

And his wife, Linda... -Uh-huh. -...was there.

And it was a really cool house.

-It's amazing. You did so much that day.

It was your birthday party, you filmed that cover, and you did that skit for 'Saturday Night Live' all on the same day.

-Let's go surfin' now. -Everybody's learnin' how.

-Come on a safari with us.

-Come on. -Let's go. Let's go.


♪♪ -How does it make you feel to hear these songs?

-Oh, wonderful. A great feel.

Oh, I'm so proud of Carl, again, man.

-When did you first know that Carl could sing leads so well like that?

-Well, 1965 or 6.

When he sang 'God Only Knows,' you must have known, 'My gosh, he's really stepped up.'

-Well, I was gonna do the vocal, and I said, 'Carl, do you wanna do the vocal?'

He goes, 'Sure, I'd love to.' You know? So he did the vocal.

-And he killed it. -Yeah, he did.

-♪ I may not always love you ♪ ♪ But long as there are stars above you ♪ ♪ You'll never need to doubt it ♪ ♪ I'll make you so sure about it ♪ ♪ God only knows what I'd be without you ♪ ♪♪ -♪ If you should ever leave me ♪ ♪ Well, life would still go on, believe me ♪ ♪ The world could show nothing to me ♪ ♪ So what good would living do me? ♪ ♪ God only knows what I'd be without you ♪ ♪♪ I saw him about a week before he died, and he goes, 'I'm gonna make it, Brian.

I'm gonna make it through.'

And he died a couple of weeks later.


-It's emotionally hard to sing it.

It feels good to sing, though. -Mm-hmm.

-When I sing it, I think about him.

'God Only Knows' gets a standing ovation every time.

-♪ God only knows what I'd be without you ♪ ♪ God only knows what I'd be without you ♪ -♪ God only knows ♪ -♪ God only knows ♪ -♪ God only knows ♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

[ Cheers and applause ] Please be seated. Thank you very much.

[ Cheers and applause ] -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -Yeah. There it is.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ -Right here.

♪ ♪ -I'm not gonna get out of the car.

-You sure? -Yeah.

-I'm gonna get out, okay? Check it out.

-I'm just gonna wait. -Okay.

-Too sentimental for me to go.

-Alright. I'll tell 'em.

-♪ ♪ -Want the music on? -Yeah.

-♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -I asked Brian one time, 'Why do you think we succeeded in such a big way?'

He said, 'Well, I think the music celebrated the joy of life in a real, simple way.'

-♪ Promised road ♪ -♪ Bah-bah, bah-bah ♪ -Not heady or -- or complex or anything.

Just a real direct experience of just joyfulness.

♪♪ -♪ Long promised road ♪ -♪ Bah-bah, bah-bah ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ Music shuts off ] -Too much on that one, huh?


[ ] -Yeah.

♪♪ -♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ -♪ In harmony ♪ -♪ Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ♪ -♪ Supporting each other ♪ ♪ Tail winds ♪ ♪ Wheels spin ♪ ♪ Down the Pacific Coast ♪ ♪ Surfin' on the A.M. ♪ ♪ Heard those voices again in ♪ ♪ Southern California ♪ ♪ Dreams wake up for ya ♪ ♪ And when you wake up here ♪ ♪ You wake up everywhere ♪ ♪ Oh, whoa, it's magical ♪ -I want to take this opportunity right now to thank our beloved Brian for writing all that beautiful music and making this evening possible.

Let's hear it for Brian Wilson!

[ Crowd cheering ] -♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ [ Piano playing ] -'It's O.K.'? -Sure.

-♪ It's O.K. ♪ Want me to play piano?

-We'd Love it, yeah. -Okay.

It starts out. One, two, three.

♪ It's O.K. ♪ [ Instruments playing ] Okay. Okay. -[ Music stops ] -It fades in about eight, ten bars.

-Got it.

I'm just gonna prepare myself mentally for the vocals.

-For some vocals? -Yeah.

-Good. You want me to scratch your back or rub your back?


-One, two. One, two, three... -♪ Fun is in, it's no sin, it's that time again ♪ ♪ To shed the load, hit the road, on the run again ♪ ♪ Summer skies in our eyes and a warmer sun ♪ ♪ It's one for all, all for one ♪ ♪ All for all-out fun ♪ -♪ Gotta go to it ♪ -♪ Yeah ♪ -♪ Gonna go through it ♪ -♪ Yeah ♪ -♪ Gotta get with it ♪ -♪ Lookin' good down the hood of a funky ride ♪ -It's a gift for all of us to have someone like Brian or those guys who still love music and wanna play music.

It's a gift to everybody because he certainly doesn't have to do that.

-Brian will always want to go out and perform.

He will always want to make records.

It's 'cause music runs through his veins.

-♪ Gotta go through it ♪ -♪ Yeah ♪ -I don't see age.

I see [bleep] history and continuing to make history.

-I think he's enjoying himself.

He wants to go on the road and he wants to keep going, so... I can't argue with that.

-♪ Good or bad, glad or sad, it's all gonna pass ♪ ♪ So it's O.K., let's all play and enjoy while it lasts ♪ -♪ Gotta go to it ♪ -♪ Yeah ♪ -In the last two years, you've toured like 180 dates.

It's more than you've ever played at any time in your career.

-We toured the world.

-You got to be proud of that. -A lot of concerts.

♪ We're always in my car 'cause it's never been beat ♪ ♪ And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet ♪ ♪♪ ♪ None of the guys go steady 'cause it wouldn't be right ♪ ♪ To leave your best girl home on a Saturday night ♪ -I've been at a concert... He did a song that I thought I would never hear live, and he opened his mouth, and I just went -- [ Gasps ] Brian's provided that for me many times, and not only has he provided that for me, he must get that every day in concert.

-I didn't know what to expect from Brian's show.

Trying to play 'Pet Sounds' live, you know, it's like, what could be harder?

But we could not believe it.

-♪ I get around ♪ -♪ Yeah ♪ -♪ Get around, 'round, 'round, I get around ♪ -If somebody was making a bet with me, I would have bet that they had tapes rolling along with what they were doing, but at the end of the day, they simply learned how to sing and re-create that music live, and it made me so happy to see what he created honored in that way.

This has been taken seriously, and everybody on that stage loves this guy and loves this music.

-♪ Get around, 'round, 'round, I get around ♪ ♪ I get around! ♪ -Yeah!

♪♪ -Thank you, ladies and gentlemen!

-I think everyone has issues, you know, whether it's mental health or anything else, and the fact that Brian is vulnerable enough and real enough... -Thank you very much. get up there and do this, I think gives people a lot of strength.

I know it gives me a lot of strength.

-♪ Ahh ♪ -♪ Well, I get anxious, I get scared a lot ♪ ♪ That's what I live with ♪ -I love him. I think he's a beautiful, sweet guy.

There's a real innocence and optimism and positivity and goodness.

That's what's at his core.

-♪ They said go out and get a steady job ♪ ♪ That was the worst idea ♪ ♪ Another day, another lonely song ♪ ♪ To get me through again ♪ -The funny thing about those songs is they're both more joyful and more painful now because of the loss of your own youth, your own adolescence, and yet at the same time, it does speak to your current life, which is the hallmark of great and lasting music.

-♪ Oh, oh, yeah, yeah ♪ -You know, it's like there's some secret code that makes Brian's music resonate the same as this feather or a piece of grass or a leaf or air or water.

There's something about it that we need.

You know, you hear his music, and you need it to live.

You know, it's like an essential element of your life.

I don't think there are words for it.

-♪ To be the greatest at the centerfield ♪ ♪ That the Yankees ever seen ♪ ♪ Was my ambition, but I got sidetracked ♪ ♪ Into the music biz ♪ ♪♪ -There's very few people that continue to make the kind of impact he's made.

And having gone through all he's gone through and coming out the other side, it's really kind of incredible and, again, so rare.

-I think there's a misconception of what real artists are and the ones that are watching the clock.

Those are the people that don't belong here.

It's the ones that just keep going.

It's Brian Wilson, that wants to still beat 'God Only Knows.'

I mean, can you imagine that?

-Two. A-one, two, three, four! no!

Someone's coming in too soon.

-♪ I know that love is what I really wanna share ♪ ♪♪ -I can remember almost word for word a quote that Brian Wilson, more than anybody else, has had a profound effect over American rock music for the next 30 years.

You can hear it. Your influence is everywhere, Brian.

I mean, do you feel that's a strong responsibility?

-Yes, I do, sure, because... once you've established yourself as... an artist, producer, somebody who has something to say, it's an artist's obligation.

It's constructive work. You know, it's work.

Any artist that you find has that feeling.

He feels the need to please, you know?

And it's a very personal thing, and it's something that comes with -- It's natural, you know? It's a natural thing.

-When I hear his music, it makes me smile.

It makes me realize that there's a lot of songs still left in me.

There's still a lot of songs left in Brian.

He's always writing. He's always making music.

And I have that love of him that will never ever die.

-♪ It's up to me to make the music call ♪ ♪ To ride the wave again ♪ -♪ Ahh, oh ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] -♪ Long promised road ♪ ♪ Trail starts at dawn, carries on to the season's ending ♪ [ Guitar strumming ] -We're gonna go. Can you hear yourself alright?


-One, two, one, two, three!

♪♪ ♪♪ -♪ So hard to answer future's riddle ♪ ♪ When ahead seems so far behind ♪ ♪ So hard to laugh a childlike giggle ♪ ♪ When the tears start to torture my mind ♪ ♪♪


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