Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson
by Regis Boff
I think there is something particularly human in repetitiveness. As I age, I more understand the working relationship between creativity and forgetfulness. I am just creative enough to see that. If I were more, it would never occur to me. Regis Boff
FaceBook sends things I have posted back to me in their “memories”. My guess is it makes me appear small in the eyes of the very few who show any interest in me.
Below is such a recall. It makes me cry a little. Regis Boff
From Brian Wilson’s autobiography:
Today (October 11), Brian Wilson releases his long-awaited memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. In this excerpt, he discusses the influence of two of the Beach Boys’ only true rivals in the ’60s: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And also, how bandmate/rival Mike Love helped him to finish “Good Vibrations.”
The one that really got me was Rubber Soul, which came out at the end of 1965. Rubber Soul is probably the greatest record ever. Maybe the Phil Spector Christmas record is right up there with it, and it’s hard to say that the Who’s Tommy isn’t one of the best, too. But Rubber Soul came out in December of 1965 and sent me right to the piano bench. It’s a whole album of Beatles folk songs, a whole album where everything flows together and everything works. I remember being blown away by “You Won’t See Me” and “I’m Looking Through You” and “Girl.” It wasn’t just the lyrics and the melodies but the production and their harmonies. They had such unique harmonies, you know? In “You Won’t See Me,” Paul sings low and George and John sing high. There’s an organ drone in there, a note that’s held down for the last third of the song or so. Those were touches they were trying, almost art music. What was so great about the Beatles was you could hear their ideas so clearly in their music. They didn’t pose like some other bands, and they didn’t try to stuff too much meaning in their songs. They might be singing a song about loneliness or a song about anger or a song about feeling down. They were great poets about simple things, but that also made it easier to hear the song. And they never did anything clumsy. It was like perfect pitch but for entire songs. Everything landed on its feet.
I met Paul McCartney later in the ’60s, in a studio. I was almost always in a studio back then. He came by when we were at Columbia Square working on vocal overdubs, and we had a little chat about music. Everyone knows now that “God Only Knows” was Paul’s favorite song—and not only his favorite Beach Boys song, but one of his favorite songs period. It’s the kind of thing people write in liner notes and say on talk shows. When people read it, they kind of look at that sentence and keep going. But think about how much it mattered to me when I first heard it there on Sunset Boulevard. I was the person who wrote “God Only Knows,” and here was another person—the person who wrote “Yesterday” and “And I Love Her” and so many other songs—saying it was his favorite. It really blew my mind. He wasn’t the only Beatle who felt that way. John Lennon called me after Pet Sounds—phoned me up, I think the British say—to tell me how much he loved the record.
But Paul and I stayed in touch. Another time not too long after that he came to my house and told me about the new music he was working on. “There’s one song I want you to hear,” he said. “I think it’s a nice melody.” He put the tape on and it was “She’s Leaving Home.” My wife, Marilyn, was there, too, and she just started crying. Listening to Paul play a new song let me see my own songs more clearly. It was hard for me to think about the effect that my music had on other people, but it was easy to see when it was another songwriter.