Saturday, July 12, 2008

good vibrations

I've been listening to Brian Wilson this past week. My twin brother was an aficionado of Pet Sounds early on in his life, and his love for it was infectious, but I never really appreciated it until I saw Brian Wilson and his band perform it live a few years ago. Duran Duran is my favorite band to see in terms of just having a good time, but if you're looking solely for a musical experience, then Brian Wilson's the man. And besides, he's so lovable you just wanna hug him and take him home w/ you to cuddle.

Brian inspired my older brother's music as well as my twin's. And I'm sure that, on some level, he's inspired my composition as well. Watch a documentary, read about what he accomplished musically before the ripe old age of twenty-five, and you'll be astounded. I know I am. Even Sir George Martin, renowned Beatles producer, said with a smile, "How can this one man have so much talent? It isn't fair."

As one witness noted, SMiLE was the baby w/ the longest gestation period in musical history -- conceived in '66 and delivered in '04 live at the Royal Albert Hall. Finally. It was always a studio masterpiece, but to see it performed live... Paul McCartney was blown away. Over the years, I'd heard snippets of it from my twin brother, who'd managed to get his hands on bootlegs of sessions and songs. I remember one ignorant employee at a CD store kavetching to him, "Like who wants to hear Good Vibrations 17 times?" My brother did, for one. Besides, it wasn't the product that interested him -- it's the process. I get that.

My last post was a prayer for the ability for my words to be an instrument of love. Some may think that's a hokey thing -- sometimes I even think that. I think there's a part of me that always wanted to be a musician and make the kinds of music my brothers and sister did and do. I've got the ability--heck, I might even argue that I've got talent. But I never had the exigence that they did. I think they look at it the way I look at writing: They couldn't not do it. I honor and respect what they do -- maybe even worship? Too strong a word? And perhaps there's even a little bit of envy in there, loving envy, if there is such a thing. But I've had experiences in both my writing and teaching career in which I call my brothers and tell them, "I imagine it's what you felt/feel like when..." It's nice to be able to relate to them on that level.

In the sixties, Brian Wilson "wanted to make music that people would pray to." Listening to "God Only Knows" or "Surf's Up" is certainly a spiritual experience for me, and I mean that in very basic terms of energy. I can't listen to it and not feel something. I can't not be moved by it. I can't not feel the love. I highly doubt my novels will ever be on the reading list of a lit course, or hailed by critics, or used as the bar to set for future writers. And that's not a bad thing. There'll be no Pet Sounds coming from me (not exactly). But I do write w/ love. Love for the craft, for the story, for the process, for the reader, for the writer, for the characters, for the words, for the language, for the voices, for the truth, for the very act, for the finished piece. And I would credit Brian Wilson as one of those teachers who showed me how, even if I wasn't paying attention at the time.

Today I worked for four hours, at least, on revising the first thirty pages of the current novel. And believe me, it was work. But I typed and cut and pasted and added and deleted and moved my text all to the rhythms and melodies and symphonies and harmonies of this great music. It inspired me, I know it did.

But, truth be told, I think what I was really longing for was to be close (not separated by physical distance, I mean) to my brothers -- #1 and the wombmate -- and feel their love as well as my love for them.

It worked.


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