Thursday, November 9, 2017

Childhood Rape: Innocence Lost by Peter Reum

The subject of sexual molestation and rape has been brought to the awareness of our country. A number of adults who were molested in childhood have spoken in the media and have expressed themselves in an angry manner and have identified their assailants, some famous, some not.

The experience of childhood violation is a subject that I have had to come to terms with as an adult. When I was 7, I was violated by a teenage neighbor who passed off what he was doing as a "science experiment." I did not fully comprehend what was happening to me, I only knew that I DID NOT like the feeling I was experiencing. I was asked to participate in another "science experiment" but instinctively declined the invitation.  It just felt WRONG.

The latest Hollywood sexual scandals seem to me to be the only time that public attention is focused upon this societal plague that shrivels the souls of young boys and girls and adults of both genders. The confusion regarding the differences between childhood and adult rape/molestation and acceptable consensual intercourse leads many people to equate rape and molestation with gay and lesbian consensual intercourse. The key word here is consensual. At least here in The United States, the historical page has been turned regarding same sex lovemaking and relationships. That the religious right wing still uses Old Testament Biblical verses to condemn same sex love and marriage between adults is a travesty that is being exposed for the silliness that it is. That there are many sensational cases in extramarital affairs  and hidden same sex relationships among the religious right is not surprising.  Outward piety bears no relationship to repressed but undeniable sexual drive.

I have had the chance to read an excellently researched book concerning  heterosexual and same sexual rape and molestation by Jon Krakauer entitled Missoula.  The first dozen or so years of this new century are the background setting for the drinking and drugging culture at the University of Montana in Missoula. Missoula is a beautiful small city, located in a valley carved by the Clarks Fork River. The University of Montana's student body, and their partying culture unfortunately led to a disregard for consensual sex at the University. Missoula is a town that enjoys microbrewery beers, and parties are often held after sports events on campus, especially during the autumn football season.

Without trying to summarize an excellently researched book that is presented factually, I will say that this volume is a focused and fair summation of several alleged rapes that occurred when students at the University of Montana were drinking or drugging, and incidents alleging rape or molestation led to destruction of the lives of some students at UM.  The women who were raped and molested were often highly intoxicated, as were the men who were accused. There was somewhat of a ho hum approach when these sexual incidents were reported by women to various authorities. The intoxication levels of the victims was used as a mitigating factor that the authorities deemed applicable pertaining to the question of whether the intercourse was consensual or not. In several cited cases, Mr. Krakauer documents an attitude among authorities that casts a doubt as to whether various victim's allegations were valid. When the alleged perpetrators said that they thought they had the consent of the accusing individuals because there was little to no resistance from highly intoxicated women regarding how the sexual incident proceeded.

For children, the idea of consensual intercourse is, of course, absurd. For especially young or mentally impaired children, the possibility of informed consent is impossible. For hundreds of thousands of  younger boys and girls, the incident may be perceived by the child as a chance to please the adult, a chance to obtain some sort of promised reward in exchange for sex, or to prevent an adult from physically beating the child. For me, it was a one time experience that just felt wrong. I did not tell my parents because I was ashamed of what happened, and I was worried that the incident would ruin our family's relationships with neighbors if I reported it. I buried the incident in a dark and dank section of my mind, and did not think of it, until 19 years later, when a female employee at the record store I was managing tearfully recalled the horrible emotions and feelings of being violated and unclean since the rape happened. All of a sudden, I recalled the rape I experienced and blurted it out to the employees of mine sitting at the table. I was trying to empathize, but the people at the table just sat there silently, wide eyed and shocked.

I will digress briefly to say that after I  became a therapist, my experience with rape seemed to help my efforts to assist men and women who had experienced molestation and/or rape to process and work through their grief, anger, and sense of shame that cast a long shadow over their lives. It is a powerful result of research in chemical dependence that 80 percent of women and 50 percent of men who enter chemical dependency treatment have a history of unresolved sexual violation-either rape or molestation.

As a chemical dependency therapist, it became a boilerplate approach that I would inquire as to whether my new addiction group members had a history of being sexually violated. Once, when I had a group of 6 women and 1 man in an outpatient group I was leading, all six of the women shared experiences of sexual violation in their presentation of their life histories. To help my readers here to understand the depth of anguish and violation these women experienced, each was able to recall the  body odor (smell), the sounds, the anguish of the experience in real time, and the shattered feelings each woman experienced for years afterward that they tried to forget. As time went on, their anger deepened, and the unresolved anger that festered became harder to numb with chemicals. For myself, having repressed the experience I had for over 30 years, as the women graphically described the noises, smells, violence, and environmental location of the rapes triggered my mind to open itself to the same memories which for me came roaring back.  I could not disclose these feelings to the group as it would have messed with the positive sharing that these women were using to heal themselves and to end their chemical dependence. I instead sought private therapy for myself.

Group therapy had the cumulative impact of helping these women to process the jumbled feelings they had concerning the sexual violations they had experienced. To this day, some 12 years later, when these women cross my path in the community, they thank me for allowing them the risk of sharing their pain with each other and the resulting group support they still have. Some of them have gone on to become employees of shelters for female victims of  physical, mental, and sexual abuse.

The answers to the problem of sexual violation of minor children and vulnerable adults are still in their early development. There is an excellent array of literature available for any child or adult who is struggling with the memories of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. In larger communities, obviously the resources are greater than in rural communities.   Peer support groups, therapists, and bibliographic resources are excellent sources of support.  Obviously, the initial and tentative first steps into disclosing and feeling the emotions lying under the anger and shame are the hardest. As time goes on, most victims empower themselves, and some even enter the field of service to those people who are in need of professional assistance because of their being violated.

Here are a few online resources:

Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse - Adult Resources for Child Sexual Abuse
Adult Behavior as a Result of Childhood Sexual Abuse - Effects-child-abuse-neglect-adult-survivors/
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse - https://www.recoveryranch.com/articles/trauma-and-ptsd-articles/child-sexual-abuse-as-a-cause-of-ptsd-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/

Text copyright 2017 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Indigenous Artists: Kevin Red Star - Apsaalooke Interpreter by Peter Reum

Here in Montana, there are numerous Indigenous People organized culturally into tribes. Every tribe has strong traditional beliefs that guide the manner in which the tribe interacts with the world both internally and externally. Tribes that are recognized as sovereign nations have a history of living in what is now Montana for centuries. All tribes have unique languages, spiritual beliefs, and a land area they call their homeland. Numerous tribes have interacted with each other either as allies or as enemies, usually because of a conflicting claim for lands that both historically have occupied. The current cohesiveness of Indigenous People is a strength that all tribes value and strive to maintain. In my opinion, central to each tribe as far as having a unified population revolves around at least four factors that must be present partially if not completely.

The first factor is having land that is  historically inhabited by the tribe. There are numerous tribes in the American West who occupy at least a portion of the area they consider their ancestral home. Perhaps the tribes that excel in this factor the best are the Pueblos, Apaches, and Di'neh tribes of the Southwestern United States. Other tribes that at least partially occupy their historical homelands are the Seminoles in Florida, the Cherokee in North Carolina, the Blackfoot, Apsalooke, and Northern  Cheyenne in Montana, and the Tlinget and Inuit Peoples of Alaska.

A second factor is the quality of life of members of a given tribe. There are several factors that can be placed into consideration regarding quality of life. The first could be the quality of education of children in the tribe. A sense of identity and unity should be present in young people who are tribal members.  There should be a shared language that is traditional. Although the English language is the most utilized in the U.S.A., the heritage of any given tribe begins in the shared culture that avails itself only in a tribe's traditional language. A tribe's spiritual traditions rest in their oral traditions as expressed in their shared beliefs. The closer a given tribe is to the landmarks that it considers sacred, the more likely they are to express traditional spirituality. Hence, there are traditional spiritual sites that various Indigenous traditional tribes believe are sacred.

The third factor that could be considered as a factor germane to quality of life is the economic and collective physical and mental health of a tribe. This particular factor is probably the one that can be most useful in helping other parts of quality of life flourish. If a tribal member's employment is reliable and predictable,  many of the other elements of a healthy quality of life will be better off. The rural nature of many tribes'  homelands makes year round employment elusive, with tribes' scrambling to identify lucrative businesses to locate on tribal lands. Rural healthcare of various tribes is difficult due to several years of healthcare funding on reservations and larger cities nationwide.

The fourth factor, which is somewhat elusive to describe, is the expression of fine arts and music for any given tribe. Fine arts reflect what any given tribal member perceives is his or her view of how healthy or unhealthy the tribe's existence is. Through all of the tribes in this country, art, dancing, and music are the spiritual glue that unify the tribes' picture of themselves. The artists in each tribe bring a vision of life that reflects a collective picture in real time. The importance of fine arts in tribal life has been recognized at the federal level through several forms of expression or training that reflect the quality of life in a given tribe. Music, dancing, pottery, jewelry, paintings,  and textile weaving are examples of this quality of life factor. At times, the differing art forms reflect how a tribe views themselves.

My personal interests in different tribes' quality of life has centered upon appreciating the spiritual traditions that make each tribe unique. While there are many tribes that share common ideas, they are more related on a macro level than a smaller, microcosmic level. As an example, nearly every tribe has a belief in a creator. This is not necessarily a belief in a god who demands prayer and adoration in exchange for life blessings. The role of the Creator in Indigenous life varies from tribe to tribe. Some tribes venerate their ancestors, believing that their presence is constant, and that their presence brings blessings or hardships. The evil spirits are seen to be the source of illness or life setbacks to the whole tribe, families, or individuals. Dancing and drumming is prayer to the Creator.

The art that any tribe produces is a function of spirituality. There is no dichotomy in place between the sacred and the profane. Even if a type of art is produced for people outside the tribe, the spirituality of the art that is created remains with the piece of art itself. These are somewhat gross generalizations,  but many non Indigenous artists hold similar beliefs. Some writers or composers experience writer's block, and see their problem as a symptom of blocked spiritual creativity. Although this sounds somewhat off kilter in Western Thought, the experience these creative folks feels like an internal voice or spirit has gone silent. For many Indigenous artists, the connection between spiritual creativity and prayer to the Creator is unbreakable.

The government saw that creative artists among the Indigenous tribes were self-taught. Some were  extremely successful, and many were not. This was not a measure of the value of the art itself. The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) was established in Santa Fe, New Mexico  for the expressed purpose of helping talented Indigenous artists to channel their talents into one or more media forms that marry their creative spirit with the possibility of making their art talent into a career path. Needless to say, the commercial or business side of the artistic process is often the most disliked aspect of the creation of works of art by young writers, composers, and fine arts creative people. This aspect of "selling myself as an artist worth taking seriously" is addressed in courses taught at IAIA.

One Indigenous artist who was in the first cohort of young people to enter IAIA is Kevin Red Star. Mr. Red Star has distinguished himself as an imaginative interpreter of Apsaalooke (Crow) life. Mr. Red Star has been focused upon the lifestyles of the Apsaalooke People, both in the present time, and in the past. Mr. Red Star's work medium is usually paint, and his artistic pieces have nearly all been depictions of past and present tribal life in the Apsaalooke Nation. He is the subject of a book by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken entitled Kevin Red Star - Crow Indian Artist. The book may be ordered through Gibbs-Smith Publishers. They have a website at www.gibbs-smith.com. It is also for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.  The book opens with several breathtaking paintings by Mr. Red Star, all of which are depictions of past and present tribal life. The art in the book reflects the strong spirituality present in Mr. Red Star and the Apsaalooke tribe.


Cover of Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist


The opening sequence of full page color reproductions of Mr. Red Star's art is simply stunning. His work is lavishly presented in color throughout the rest of the book. His use of earth tone colors is striking. The subjects of the opening sequence are either studies of Apsaalooke (Crow) tribal members in various natural settings or in ceremonial dress. Some of the works of art are full facial studies, others depict tribal members on horseback or in studies of tribal members entire bodies with minimal background. Here are some examples of Mr. Red Star's work, some of which may be found at Mr. Red Star's web site:


Mr. Red Star at work in his studio 


Kevin Red Star - Crazy Dog's War Party


Kevin Red Star - Mr. and Mrs. Choke Cherry



Kevin Red Star - Crow Dance at Midnight


Benefit Print for Zoo Montana and Beartooth Nature Center


Kevin Red Star - Yellow Moon


Kevin Red Star -Crow Full Moon Riders


Kevin Red Star - First Snow

All of these paintings depict Mr. Red Star's studies of Apsaalooke Life. The pictures I have shown here are representations of his tribe's culture and daily life in what seems to be a depiction of the Apsaalooke tribe's lifestyle in the late Nineteenth Century and recent times. The tribe was primarily centered in the mountains of South Central Montana, (e.g. Beartooth Range) and life on the Great Plains at a time when tallgrass prairies were common, and hunting for bison was a regular event.

Mr. Red Star is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute. His support of several charities in the Mountain West has been consistent and gracious. The Institute of American Indian Arts is currently benefitting from the sale of prints of his paintings. People who are interested may go to kevinredstar.com, his official website. He also exhibits his work at several art galleries in the Mountain West. He is an example of an artist whose vision goes beyond his own perspective, and reflects the best characteristics of Indigenous People.

Text copyright 2017  by Peter Reum

All rights reserved







Saturday, October 7, 2017

Voices of Indigenous People 2 - Music for the Native Americans-Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble by Peter Reum

The question I am occasionally asked about my articles on Indigenous Peoples is "why are you as a Caucasian so interested in Indigenous matters?" The answer is that my adopted sister was Indigenous by birth, and my family lived in the heart of the Northern New Mexico Pueblos in Espanola. To walk an Indigenous Path was very hard on my sister. She was in both the Indigenous world and the Caucasian world. Her feet were firmly planted in both cultures, and the experiences she had with Indigenous people were very mixed.

The album I would like to discuss highlights a man with a similar dilemma, Robbie Robertson, whose history is equally in Judaism and Indigenous peoples. When I call Mr. Robertson's situation a dilemma, I mean to say that his own history as a child and during manhood mainly covered his history as a musician with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, then later with The Band. Lyrically, Mr. Robertson chose to speak to a music audience hungry for the experience of American Life. Mr. Robertson was especially perceptive in his songwriting, reflecting perhaps his time spent with Bob Dylan on the road, and later at Big Pink, the home in rural New York state that hosted the famous experimental songs known as The Basement Tapes.

After the the Last Waltz, Mr. Robertson entered into the world of soundtrack production, often for the distinguished American Director  Martin Scorcese.  These experiences seemed to lead Mr. Robertson into a profession that was an excellent match for him, as he is an aficionado of film, dating from his teenage years on through to his adulthood.  What was not as well known was Mr. Robertson's heritage as an Indigenous Member of the Mohawk Nation from Ontario, Canada. Mr. Robertson spent summers on the Six Nations Reservation southwest of Toronto.

Mr. Robertson was asked to supervise the soundtrack for the Ted Turner historical documentary series The Native Americans. The miniseries was the first major video work that was Native American centered rather than a dominant cultural view of Indigenous America. The documentary's influence was more widely accepted by Indigenous Nations because of the presence of Native Americans working in the series, including Mr. Robertson. Mr. Turner chose not to copyright the film, making it accessible to educational and cultural populations.

In making the Music for The Native Americans album, Robbie Robertson actively sought out other Indigenous musicians to perform their music. In this way, a wider sampling of the music being recorded by Indigenous artists could be shared. There is a tendency to think that Indigenous music consists of  drums and hand carved flutes. The diversity of Indigenous Music reflects the various cultures making up Native America.

The album begins with coyotes howling over the chants of a sacred dance. The tune is called Coyote Dance. Ethereal synthesizer sounds accompany the chants, tastefully highlighted with echo, moving across the stereo perspective. The entire recording communicates the complexity of the Indigenous perspective on Nature. Nature is host to the various  forms of life in their infinite diversity, and many tribes consider the Earth to be a living entity itself. This track includes Delphine Robertson, who is Mr. Robertson's daughter. Montana's own Apsalooke (Crow) chief, Plenty Coups is quoted: "...Our dust and bones, ashes cold and white,  I see no longer the curling smoke rising, I hear no longer the sounds of  the women...."only the wail of the coyote is heard."

Cover Art for Music for The Native Americans

Mahk Jchi is a breathtaking prayer from the Cherokee Nation. The three women singing on this track are Cherokee.  The song is termed a heartbeat drum song. The drum is beaten by Benito, the famous drum player from New Mexico's famous Taos Pueblo. Accompanying him is Mazatl, of Aztec blood. Robbie Robertson plays keyboards here. Three distinguished Indigenous women sing the song. One of the women is Pura Fe, an Indigenous singer and instrumentalist. There is an article I wrote covering her early in my blog's entries.

From times long gone come the traditions of Indigenous tribes working together in cooperation for each other's benefit. In the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, a movement, The Ghost Dance, began.
Ghost Dancers believed that the Caucasians would be driven from the Indigenous tribes' traditional land and soldiers would  die. The various tribal members came together to worship and to drive out the settlers and soldiers who had stolen their lands. Tragically, like Crazy Horse before him, Sitting Bull was assassinated at the site called Wounded Knee by several of  the US
Army soldiers. I hope that you can read to your kids about the liquidation policy of the U.S. Army. Every American should read about history of the extermination efforts made by White Americans. Over 300 Indigenous Lakota men, women, and children died that cold day at Wounded Knee, and it was the largest number of Indigenous people killed at one time at the same site in U. S. A. history. Robbie Robertson narrates over traditional Lakota drums on this piece.

A Sioux Ghost Dance Prayer is quoted
"The whole world is coming
A nation is coming, a nation is coming
The eagle has brought the message to the tribe
The father says so, the father says so
Over the whole earth they are coming
The buffalo are coming. The buffalo are coming
The crow has brought the message to the tribe
The father says so, the father says so"

The fourth selection on the album is entitled "The Vanishing Breed. It is again a meditation on the dire condition of Indigenous people in the United States and also the entire Western Hemisphere. Lovely Indigenous flute is played over a beautiful synthesized string track. The music is authored by Douglas Spotted Eagle and Robbie Robertson.

The fifth track is especially moving, as it is entitled It is a Good Day to Die. The title is a quote from Lakota Warrior Crazy Horse prior to the Little Big Horn battle, in which the entire 7th Cavalry contingent led by Colonel George Armstrong  Custer died. Custer made the error of taking 200 soldiers into battle against an estimated 10,000 Lakota and Northern Cheyenne men, women, children, and elderly people. The battle is estimated to have lasted under 20 minutes based on interviews with Indigenous warriors some 40 years after the battle. The narration, written by Robbie Robertson,  contains one of the most sensitive and insightful set of lyrics Robbie ever wrote.

Black Elk, one of the most famous seers and mystics of Lakota medicine men, was a witness of the Little Big Horn battle. He is quoted as saying "Then another great cry went out in the dust--Crazy Horse is coming  Crazy Horse is coming!" Off toward the West and the North, they were yelling, " Hoka Hey" like a big wind roaring, and making the tremelo: and you could hear eagle bone whistles screaming...."

Golden Feather, the next track, was inspired by the yearning of the Cherokee to return to their North Carolina and Virginia home. Written by Robbie Robertson, the song hints at the religious symbolism that a golden eagle feather has that underlies its significance to traditional tribe members. In many tribes the eagle is sacred because it flies higher than other birds. Eagles are in some tribes considered messengers to the Creator carrying prayers from tribal members. Background vocals are by Laura Satterfield, and Rita and Priscilla Coolidge.
In some tribes, when a tribal member finds a golden feather or a stone shaped like a heart, it is considered a blessing from the Creator.

Akua Tuta, the next selection, is a song in the native language of the Innu tribe in Quebec, Canada. Kashtin, the performer's name, is also from their native language. The lyrics are translated:

"Take care,
Take care of your someplace,
Take care of your grandmother,
Take care of youself"

The two men who make up Kashtin spontaneously began dancing when they were singing.

Words of Fire, Deeds of Blood, a song written by Robbie Robertson,  puts into musical form one of the most eloquent chief's  speeches in Indigenous history. After being pursued by the USA cavalry for over 1500 miles, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe, exhausted by the tribe's flight, surrenders his remaining tribe members and is taken to the Colville, Washington reservation. His eloquent statement to his tribe and the Caucasian soldiers who guarded him is perhaps the most moving of speeches by an Indigenous tribal leader.

The Cherokee Morning Song again features Rita and Priscilla Coolidge. The song is performed here with instruments that are used  in prayer to the Creator. Also singing here is Laura Satterfield. Many tribes have a ritual that is dedicated to the sun. In some tribes, a certain clan or two run or dance to help the sun rise at dawn. The song is usually done in the tribe's own language.

The Di'neh people are the largest tribe in the United States. Their reservation sprawls over 3 states. The art, healing rites, singing and chanting, and other traditional practices are very old. The tribe has ceremonies that are practised privately  away from prying eyes. When praying, the tribe believes they are open and vulnerable to evil spirits. The skinwalker is an evil presence that can take the shape of any animal or human it wants by slipping inside the body of the vulnerable person that is praying. Skinwalkers usually seek host bodies at night. Vision Seekers go to great lengths to avoid being overtaken by evil spirits.

Ancestor Song, the next track, highlights the importance of respect for deceased relatives. In most Indigenous tribal beliefs they have great influence over living tribal members.  Many tribes believe that their deceased relatives are always present, living in the clouds floating overhead.

In the ancient ways, those living dance in complex dress complete with masks that cover the dancers' faces. They believe that the ancestor's spirits enter the masked dancers. They bring the gift of rain in the parched desert climate that would be uninhabitable without rain if the ancestors did not come to enter the body of their living descendants. They believe that if you lift the mask of the dancer, no one is visible, including the dancer who put on the mask.

Hopi tribal members believe that our planet has entered the fourth and final time in its existence.  They believe that the world will again be destroyed as it was three previous times. They believe that the only way to prevent this eventuality is to live in peace with each other and the animals.

Sandy Kewanbaptewa, a traditional believer offers this prayer to the ancient one: "And now grandfather, I ask you to bless the white man. He needs your wisdom, your guidance. You see for so long he has tried to destroy our people, and only feels comfortable when given power. Bless them, and show them the peace we understand. Teach them humility. For I fear they will destroy themselves and their children as they have done so with Mother Earth. I plead, I cry, after all, they are our brothers."

The final selection on this beautiful album is entitled Twisted Hair. The song is written by Jim Wilson and Dave Carson. The song is written as a prayer to the Creator, and asks for the ways of love of Mother Earth return.  The chorus that you hear in the background of this song is the sound of crickets slowed down. The beautiful voice is by Lakota opera singer Bonnie Jo Hunt. At this album's end, an album of prayer and benevolence, this Crowfoot prayer is quoted: " It is the flash of a firefly in the night-It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset..."


This article is copyright 2017 by Peter Reum excluding quoted material from Capitol Records copyright 1992 by Capitol Records
All rights reserved by Capitol Records and Peter Reum

This article is respectfully dedicated to my adopted sister Susan whose struggle with living in two worlds destroyed her.





Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hey Stevie! Chris Made a Film About You.... by Peter Reum

There are folks who are among the best in their chosen field. People who are open to new experiences find the exhilaration that begins when they empty themselves and soak in the wonder of a master of their craft. I have been blessed in this life to listen to the creativity that flows from an inspired soul several times. People at the pinnacle of their fields shine like lighthouses for anyone who suspends ego and lets those who are inspired share their wisdom.

Two guys who radiate and shine their light are Stephen Kalinich and Chris Allen. Stevie is a person whose poetry flows from him like a mountain spring. Chris Allen is a film maker who sees stories...real people stories that HAVE to be told.

I first encountered both of these guys in a visit to Connecticut in 2002. The occasion was a Beach Boys/Brian Wilson fan convention put on by Susan Lang. David Marks and his lovely wife were also there. We traveled over to David's place the day after the convention, and I spent the day with Susan, Jon Stebbins, David and his wife, and Stevie who was writing with David.

Being around these folks was a very nice diversion from my Montana life. In Montana, I was in therapy sessions daily, working with EBD youth. These boys could really test staff patience, and I had my share of being twisted by the tail most days.

When I spent time with with Stevie, I was touched by his earnest and sincere approach to getting to know new people he met. He had a kindness that radiated outward to me and other people that came from a deep self-acceptance of himself. Stevie radiated strength and compassion in an intensity matched very few people I have seen.

For Stevie,  poetry and art are as essential to him as water is to a trout. Stevie has little if any of the self-doubt that people who write as a form self - expression have. His reason for what might be seen by some folks as networking avails him new opportunities unlike most poets. For diverse artists,  the door opens wider if poetry is the base of  understanding of our approach to be here with you. Stephen is a wordsmith. This is a rare and precious gift.

Stephen is a person who is capable of finding the most essential qualities in every person he meets.  He has the gift of moving past small talk into learning what inspires people. He is not a judgemental person. If he senses that a person he meets is unwilling to talk about certain subjects,  he will share examples from his own life to draw the person out.

Stephen is a loyal friend. This part of him surfaces in his poetry. If he decides a person is benevolent, he will share examples of kindness he has received. His insights about people are trustworthy. His life experiences tell his story.

Chris Allen has the ability to meet people where they are comfortable and to use film to illustrate their life's mission.  He has had the chance to tell his viewers about some of the most unique personalities in the arts community.

When I worked with Chris on an article I wrote entitled Light the Lamp, based on my reaction to Brian Wilson's Smile concerts, his input turned that article into a longer reflection on Brian Wilson as a musician and composer. Chris helped change a good article into one that people found insightful.

The artistic urge has to be scratched. If you have the good fortune to meet people like Chris and Stephen, take time to get to know them. You will be a better person for the efforts you make.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology by Peter Reum

Brian Wilson's latter day solo career began in the years he was treated for mental illness by Eugene Landy, a psychologist who slimmed a half-dead Brian from 340 pounds to a vital and fit 180 pounds. Brian began working with the late Gary Usher in the mid Eighties, but their collaboration was crippled by the constant meddling of Landy and Brian's keepers, who Brian called "the Surf Nazis." Usher and Brian's work resulted in roughly a dozen songs, many of which have remained unreleased.  One 45 emerged from the sessions, Let's Go to Heaven in My Car. It was only the second single ever released by Brian up to that time, the other being Caroline No from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album.

One of Brian's rare public performing appearances in the Eighties led to an offer of a record contract from Seymour Stein of Sire Records. Brian's conflicted feelings about recording with Landy and the unending presence of a contingent  of Landy's "handlers" which Brian called "The Surf Nazis" became evident early on in some of the songs that Brian was trying to write with Andy Paley. Paley was recruited by Seymour Stein, and his role was fairly fluid during the sessions he did with Brian. Paley has mentioned in interviews that he wrote over 100 songs with Brian. Four songs from the Wilson/Paley songbook are present on this album's playlist.

Paley is a fine songwriter whose work style was compatible with Brian's. Their collaboration on Brian's first album was a major reason the album turned out so well. Landy's frequent interfering created a high degree of anxiety during the Brian Wilson album sessions. Paley helped calm a shaken Brian when Landy interfered. Brian had a number of songs which were top notch, despite the interference of Landy's numerous phone calls and arguments with anything that messed with his ideas for Brian, including being credited as a dubious "co-writer" on numerous songs.

The Brian Wilson Anthology draws four tunes from the eighteen on the album entitled Brian Wilson.  That first solo album is represented on the Brian Wilson Anthology strongly. The album sessions seemed to drag on, mostly due to ultimatums from either Landy or his bushy minions, the Surf Nazis. Complicating the album's public image was the 1988 single that the Beach Boys released. Kokomo was a catchy tune, and it rose to the top spot on the Billboard singles chart. Over several months, Brian's work on the album grew. Russ Titleman co-produced most of the album with Brian, Rio Grande was produced  by Brian Wilson and Lenny Waronker. Landy had production credit as well, but the credit was removed as were songwriting credits on several other tunes on Brian Wilson.

Love and Mercy leads off the album program, and deserves that honor easily. The tune has been recorded by other artists who also valued the song and it's message. The song is a standard at Brian Wilson concerts, and closes the show as the last song in the encore. The tune's lamentation on the violence in the world is a universal message. Recently, a young woman from Afghanistan recorded it, and was set to come to the USA. Her visa was denied by the Trump Administration.  She was moved by the song's lyric about there being too much violence in the world. Brian had planned to meet her, but it couldn't occur due to a ban on visits from several Islamic countries, including Afghanistan.

The second song culled from Brian Wilson is Surfs Up. The versions from the 1966 and 1967 recordings are remarkable, almost breathtaking. They lack the world weariness of the tune on Brian Wilson Presents Smile. Lionized by Leonard Bernstein, David Oppenheim, and Paul Williams, this version on the Anthology album offers an older and perhaps wiser vocal from Brian that beautifully reflects the worldwise emotions of an older Brian Wilson which better matches the message in Van Dyke Parks' lyrics. To say it bluntly, Brian's vocal from 2004 sounds more appropriate to the song's lyrics than the version from the 1971 Surfs Up album with Carl and Brian. For some Brian Wilson fans, this idea may sound heretical.

Heroes and Villains was one of the major compositions by Brian and the mercurial Van Dyke Parks. The song was to appear on the shelved Smile album in 1966. That the song is brilliant has never been questioned. Heroes and Villains was recorded in short musical pieces that Brian wanted to sequence in a matter similar to how Good Vibrations was put together. Brian's use of short snippets of sound, which were then spliced together was termed "modular production." The modules of Heroes and Villains were reworked for the Brian Wilson Presents Smile album. Thanks to Darian Sahanaja, Brian was able to listen to all of the aborted 1966-7 Heroes and Villains modules, and together Brian and Darian worked to assemble the beautiful version from 2004.

Melt Away is a solo composition, and Brian's lyrics on it perfectly reflect the instrumental track, which has an almost church hymn feeling to it. As Brian has matured and grown older, his ability to commit his thoughts and feelings to his songs has mushroomed. It is a great love song. For my money, it is one of the top 3 or 4 tunes on Brian Wilson.

If you are a follower of Electric Light Orchestra, you will no doubt recognize the sound of Jeff Lynne in Let It Shine. Brian had worked with Roy Wood, a bandmate of Lynne's on It's Ok during The 15 Big Ones sessions. Lynne is a fine producer in his own right, and co-produced Let It Shine with Brian on the Brian Wilson album sessions. For myself, this tune is one of the most upbeat and almost sounds like the beginning of an old fashioned Christian Revival evening. Of course, it is not sacred in its theme.

Some Sweet Day is a previously unreleased tune from Brian's work with Andy Paley. It is a tune that could have fit on some of the Beach Boys mid Sixties albums. It offers a peek into Brian and Andy's sensibilities. The tune's track is a song that is almost a dead ringer for Brian's tune from the Carl and the Passions tune He Came Down. It would be nice to hear a double or triple cd set of the best Wilson/Paley songs.

So much has been written covering Brian's work with Andy Paley on Rio Grande. Having grown up less than half a mile from the Rio Grande in New Mexico, as a kid, it was for me the river that fired my imagination. Lenny Waronker of Warner/Reprise took time out from his busy schedule as WEA president to coax Brian into writing a long form composition "like Cool Cool Water. "  Brian was reluctant initially when asked to record a long form composition.  The song's evolution from a sound sketch into an 8+ minute mini rock opera is covered on Rhino/Warner's extended reissue of Brian's first solo album. The song's Western theme pulls together a number of Brian's song fragments and was revised several times before the released version was completed.  One obvious song fragment is the earworm melody called Night Blooming Jasmine. The song's winding course mirrors the Rio Grande River itself. The input from Andy Paley was invaluable in the stitching together of the various song parts into a coherent song. It is a masterpiece, and boosted Brian's confidence in his own music and lyrics.

The Imagination album offers two songs on this anthology. The collaboration of Brian Wilson and Joe Thomas began with this album. As an overall album, Imagination was more polished and adult oriented than some of Brian's other work. The two songs on this anthology's program are Cry and Lay Down Burden. There are at least 3 other tunes that could fit here, Your Imagination, She Says That She Needs Me, and a sassy collaboration with Jimmy Buffett, South American. Cry offers a somber musical mood that borders on penitent. The tune is an apology to his wife, after he picked a fight with her when he was in a bad mood. The track for the tune literally exudes his sorrow after the fight. Lay Down Burden is a message to his brother Carl when Brian learned that Carl's cancer was terminal.

The two songs that follow Lay Down Burden are songs that appear on the Brian Wilson Live at the Roxy album that is excellent but long ago deleted until this anthology. The First Time is a song that Brian wrote for a Flintstones movie. This Isn't Love was initially written with Brian's Pet Sounds lyricist, Tony Asher for the Wilson Sister's 1997 album without Chynna Phillips. It also appeared as an instrumental on  a Windham Hill label album. The tune could have been a part of a new Wilson/Asher album, but the collaboration ended shortly after This Isn't Love.

As the years went by, Brian's next studio album was titled Gettin' In Over My Head. The album is represented on this anthology by two songs, Gettin' In Over My Head (the title track), and Soul Searchin', the product of an aborted Beach Boys album that was quickly shelved in favor of a Beach Boys and Country Music album with Country Music artists singing Beach Boys songs backed by the group. Soul Searchin' was recorded with a Carl Wilson lead vocal that was blended with Brian's 2004 vocal. The song oozed an earthy feeling track with Brian's vocal parts added. A version was later cut by Solomon Burke. The title track, Gettin' In  Over My Head, is an excellently produced melody, with lyrics that convey the questions men and women ask themselves when a new relationship proceeds more rapidly than the new lovers anticipated.  Both tracks are quite strong in an album that is uneven.

The Like I Love in You is one of two unfinished melodies composed by George Gershwin that the Gershwin family asked Brian to finish in 2010. The exceptiomal overall quality of the album, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, makes it my favorite Brian Wilson solo album other than Brian Wilson Presents Smile. The two Gershwin fragments of songs that Brian and his band completed are highlights of a project that Brian and his band were very enthused about. The album is a joy to listen to, and honored Brian's favorite composer and lyricist, George and Ira Gershwin, in a manner that was respectful to the Gershwin musical legacy. Any listener who listens to this album will find the range of human emotions that makes Porgy and Bess an American classic.

After playing Pet Sound live in 2002 and Smile in 2004, the Royal South Festival Hall commissioned Brian to compose the another long form concert to be performed at the hall where the earlier shows were played. The result was an extended performance which centered on a collection of songs themed around the life of a youth centered environment--Southern California. The song cycle was humorous,  even silly until it was revised. One song stands out the best, a biographic tune entitled Midnight's Another Day. Scott Bennett wrote the lyrics with Brian, and they as autobiographical as Brian has ever been since Pet Sounds. The entire theme is a musical portrait of the people, places, and activities that make Southern California special.

The second album that Brian recorded for Disney collected a set of songs taken from Disney motion pictures. Colors of the Wind originally appeared in Pocahantas, a movie about  an actual indigenous person from the 17th Century. The song works beautifully in the story told in this animated movie. It offers a theme of learning to live with our natural world instead of depleting limited energy that sets back Earth's ability to heal itself. For millennia, indigenous people worldwide have lived on Earth working with nature instead of trying to control it.

The first of two archival tunes is a Brian Wilson and Andy Paley composition most likely from the Gettin' In Over My Head sessions. Some Sweet Day is a bouncy and cheerful composition that seems to fit better in this set than it would have fit on the Gettin' In  Over My Head album. The song is bouncy and cute in a first relationship type of thinking. It fits the theme of many of the Wilson/Paley songs that center on first love types of relationships, with their corresponding happy naivety and innocence. The music for Some Sweet Day is cheerful and optimisticaslly forward looking. It fits this album well.

Run James Run is somewhat of an enigma as to when it was written. Clearly, it most likely dates from sometime recent. Some of the tunes that Brian and Joe Thomas wrote date from the year Brian lived in Illinois, around 1997. The tune is a light and bouncy song that fits well as an optimistic album closing tune here on Playback: The Brian Wilson  Anthology.

The album's strengths:

*The album flows very  nicely from beginning to conclusion
*Nearly all of the solo albums Brian has recorded since his 1988 solo album are represented
*This anthology on first blush can be considered an album that focuses on Brian's best solo work
*The musicians on this album are generally from Brian's touring band, and there is a feeling of continuity as a result.

The album's weaknesses:

*Some songs that this writer would have considered a "must" on this album are left out. Please refer to the list below
*The booklet that comes with the album is very well written. It would have been nice to have some observations from Brian for each track
*There are numerous one off types of tracks that have come out intermittently throughout Brian's solo career. Some of them are excellent and need the further exposure that they deserve
*A bonus DVD would have been helpful to show some of Brian's work

Appendix I

Some possible tracks that could be valuable in an expanded version of this anthology

Brian Wilson (1988)
* There's So Many
* Meet Me in My Dreams Tonight

I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (1995)
* Do It Again with Carnie and Wendy
* Still I Dream of It (demo)

Orange Crate Art (with Van Dyke Parks 1995)
*Orange Crate Art
*Palm Tree and Moon
*San Francisco

Imagination (1998)
*She Says That She Needs Me
*South American
*Your Imagination (vocals only)

Brian Wilson Live at the Roxy (2000)
*Caroline No
*Friends (from Japanese issue)

Brian Wilson Pet Sounds Live (2001)
*I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
*Pet Sounds - title track

Gettin' In Over My Head
*Desert Drive
*Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel
*The Waltz

Brian Wilson Presents Smile (200I4)
*Entire Second Movement
*On a Holiday
*Mrs O'Leary's Cow
*In Blue Hawaii

What I Really Want For Christmas  (2005)
*Joy to the World
*What I Really Want For Christmas
*Christmassy

Lucky Old Son (2007)
*Oxygen to the Brain
*Going Home

Brian Wilson Presents Gershwin (2010)
*Nothing But Love
*I Loves You Porgy
*I Got Rhythm

In the Key of Disney  (2011)
*Dwarf Medley

No Pier Pressure (2015)
*Half Moon Bay
*Our Special Love

Brian Wilson and Friends (2016)
*Marcella
*Heroes and Villains

One Off Songs for bonus material:

Live Let Live
He Couldn't Get His Body to Move
Being With the One You Love
Rodney on the Roc
Too Much Sugar
Let's Go to Heaven in My Car
This Song Wants to Sleep With You Tonight
Good Vibrations (live)
Our Prayer (live)
Our Prayer (Freeform Reform Mix)
Sweets for the Sweet
This Could Be the Night
God Only Knows (BBC version)
Surfin' USA live @ Bridge School Benefit
Goodnight Irene
What Love Can Do
In My Moondreams with Andy Paley
Listen to Me
Wanderlust
My Sweet Lord
California Feeling
California Sun
Country Feelin'
The Spirit of Rock and Roll
Speed Turtle
You Are So Beautiful with Carnie Wilson
Til I Die with Carnie and Wendy Wilson
Monday Without You with Carnie/Wendy
Everything I Need with Carnie/Wendy
Miracle with Carnie and Wendy
Friends live

Demos exist for a number of Brian Wilson songs with the Beach Boys and as a solo artist. This is a fertile source for other solo efforts by Brian.

For a single cd anthology, Playback is a fine introduction to Brian Wilson's solo recordings. I can honestly recommend it with few if any reservations.



Essay copyright 2017 by Peter Reum - all rights reserved







Monday, September 25, 2017

In Memory of Wade Blank by Peter Reum

When people ask how life changed for people with severe disabilities in the last 40 years, the organization most often mentioned is ADAPT. When you ask who was instrumental in the beginning of the Disability Rights Movement, one name always comes up, Wade Blank. When I was involved in the board of directors, and later the executive directorship of the Northern Colorado on Disability and Deafness, The Atlantis Community, the birthplace of ADAPT, was the lightning rod for disability rights activism.

ADAPT grew like a weed as the obvious need for getting people with severe disabilities out of nursing homes became as obvious as the moles on a witch's nose. As the flicker of a flame for a disability rights movement became a bonfire, the role of the Reverend Wade Blank in kindling that flame in the hearts of institutional young people with severe disabilities cannot be underestimated.

This evening on our national evening news, there was ADAPT disrupting the only open meeting/hearing for a Republican Party plan to drastically cut the adult Medicaid program so violently that even governors and state legislators decried the cynical harshness of the bill. ADAPT was in the meeting room, loudly chanting against the utter inhumane treatment that people with severe disabilities would receive under the   Republican Piece of Shit masquerading as a healthcare bill. It was classic ADAPT strategy. The old fart running the meeting, a Senator from Utah who is a living example of why term limits for Congress are desperately needed, kept calling for order, and ADAPT just got louder.

As has happened hundreds of times before, the shouters were evicted from the meeting room, with several ADAPT members being arrested. When the DC Police Department discovered that they would be responsible for personal care in the jail, e.g. empty urine bags, take care of catheters, and handling excrement, they released ADAPT members, like dozens of police departments before over the last 40 years.

When Wade Blank helped Mike, a prisoner of a Boulder, Colorado nursing home move into community living in his own home, the paradigm shift regarding  personal care provision began. Until that moment, people with severe impairments either lived in their family home or in a nursing home. Wade Blank created a movement that stressed empowerment over compliance...choices over following medical provider's rules. Nursing homes in the early Seventies were populated by elderly people and "medically fragile" people with mobility  and progressive condition types of impairments.

As documented on ADAPT's online museum, Wade Blank was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, working with a number of people who led the fight for African American desegregation in the Fifties and Sixties. By learning these tactics, Wade was moved to use similar strategies with people with severe disabilities who the Atlantis Community, the parent organization of ADAPT, helped move out of nursing homes into community based apartments. In doing this shift from nursing home living to community based living, a number of services were reinvented for freedom from doing whatever the nursing home services did that was dehumanizing in a nursing home setting.

The shift in residential service philosophy for people with severe disabilities in a broader sense was grounded in an empowerment model instead of a compliance orientation.  From these pioneering efforts, the people who were previously considered medically impossible for community residential living came to feel that their life had meaning through the choices that they made once free from the medical compliance model of nursing home life  and living in their own home.

From these strands of restructuring of living with a severe disability, people with severe disabilities became an everyday presence seen in Denver. This opened a door for ADAPT to assist individuals with various types of disabilities to protest and fight for personal liberties that people without disabilities took for granted. Wade Blank's planting of the empowerment seeds led to the world's first law guaranteeing people with disabilities the same rights enjoyed by other United States  citizens, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 1983, ADAPT turned their advocacy to the inaccessibility of city busses in Denver, Colorado. The rights to live in a community were diminished by the lack of accessibility of Denver's people with disabilities to adequate transportation.  The city of Denver was resistant to making regular city busses accessible to people  with mobility impairments, citing costs of adapting their regular bus fleet.  The ADAPT people, used their protest tactics to disrupt the movement of the city of Denver's system.

The city grew weary of ADAPT's messing up the busses travel routes by blocking  bus stations, lying in front of busses, and shouting down bus system managers in open public meetings. A new mayor, Federico Pena, met with Wade Blank and ADAPT to seek an agreement to get the busses back to running on time. Denver's city accountants were tasked with putting a realistic cost for conversion of the ENTIRE bus fleet. Mayor Pena was able to generate the projected costs for making Denver busses accessible to people with severe disabilities. A timetable was negotiated with ADAPT, and Denver became the first big city in the world to have a completely accessible municipal transit system. If you go to the site of the first disruption of Denver's busses by ADAPT, you will find a historical marker that commemorates Denver's feat of making their busses accessible. Prominent among the names on the plaque is Wade Blank.

As the debate began on the drafting of the Americans with Disabilities Act began in the United States Congress, the Disability Rights groups took a good cop/bad cop approach. Some of the mainstream groups like the Disabled American Veterans and the National Rehabilitation Association were  examples of the good cop approach. The ADAPT group,  which by then had spread into fully operating branches in nearly all major population centers in all of the many major cities inUnited States. Members of Congress would meet with the good cop after Wade Blank and ADAPT had scared the crap out of the more intransigent senators and representatives. Most books covering the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act credit people like Justin Dart, Robert Dole, and many quiet but effective advocates for the educating of Congress regarding salient issues needing to be addressed in the ADA. The same books credit ADAPT with providing the protesting aspect of the population of people with severe disabilities which communicated the disability community's impatience and urgent need for the ADA.

As the years went by, Wade Blank continued to assist new recruits to empower themselves through the ADAPT national community. Always a devoted husband and father, Wade Blank brought the same quiet enthusiasm to his family that he did in disability rights advocacy and negotiation. At the dawn of the Nineties, he turned 50 but never stopped showing people with disabilities that through self-advocacy and assisting them in identifying what they wanted in life. In turn, they would empower each other and raise the quality of life for themselves and others.

In 1993, on a vacation in Baja California, Wade Blank drowned in the Pacific Ocean trying to rescue his 15 year old son, who also drowned. Though his voice was silenced, the thousands of people with severe disabilities who learned to self-advocate and occasionally disrupt the routines of stubborn people and organizations, by continuing to pass on to new advocates the principles Wade Blank showed members of ADAPT 45 years ago. Like many  leaders, Wade, through his efforts to teach self-advocacy and living in the Community, had succeeded in passing the torch to a new group of people with disabilities, thereby making his leadership evolve into more of a consultation role. The leaders of the many disability rights groups who followed ADAPT owe a debt of gratitude to Wade. In a sense, this orientation toward self-advocacy and empowerment is a living memorial to Wade.


This author is indebted to the ADAPT
online museum, who lovingly maintain a memorial page for Wade Blank. The history of many of  the issues ADAPT has tackled over  the 40+ years of its history is displayed through a progression of newspaper articles through the decades. To read the historical news articles through the years is a powerful testament to ADAPT and other disability rights groups.


Copyright 2017 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved 





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Whose National Parks and Monuments Are They? by Peter Reum

People tend to think of public lands as being set aside for recreation, energy development, and wildlife protection. The answer to that question is not as simple as it might seem. There is constant clashing over public land purposes, especially when precious metals, oil, ranching, and recreation and wilderness are at odds. The National Parks are designated as such by an act of both houses of Congress with the recommendation of The Executive Branch. A law called the Antiquities Act of 1906 permits the President to set aside unique national landmarks and natural areas for preservation and visitation by the general public. Interestingly, many current National Parks began their existence as National Monuments first. In addition to these designations, there are wildlife refuges, national forests, wilderness areas, and other minor designations for public lands that have to do with the general public and are for public use.

Under the Obama Administration a number of National Monuments were designated for public use. The Trump Administration has questioned the status of 27 of these new National Monuments, and has designated Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as  the person to complete these reviews. Zinke is a former Congressman from Montana, and was an early Trump supporter during the 2016 elections. He is someone who said that he is a person who will support the National Parks System while serving in Congress. The overall orientation of the Trump administration  has been very pro oil, natural gas, and mineral extraction in its first six months in office. The review of the 27 National Monuments has been whittled down from 27 monuments to 20, with 7 monuments being designated for retaining their status as it has been. There is also a review recommending privatization of all hotel and camping facilities in the National Park System. There is strong opposition to the review, with 1.2 million citizens submitting signatures demanding that the designated 27 monuments for review be retained as National Monuments as they currently are. The Trump Administration is actively contemplating a judicial review of the 1906 Antiquities Act, and Zinke's review is the first phase.

A source inside the Interior Department recently leaked a copy of Zinke's recommendations for Trump to the press, and at least 10 of the National Monuments were targeted for either downsizing, road buildings, or mining. The topography of the targeted monuments is near wilderness quality. Among the National Monuments targeted are 2 in New Mexico, 2 in Utah, 1 in Nevada.

If you so inclined, you can send letters to President Trump, and should he be inundated, the unpopularity of Zinke's report, may lead to more pristine types of land preservation. This effort by Trump to privatize the National Parks and Monuments and open them to mining or downsizing. Once compromised, this horrible list of Zinke's recommemdations leading to the gutting of these national monuments may be made irrelevant. Thank you for whatever efforts you choose to make to halt these mush headed recommendations.




Sunday, August 20, 2017

Smiley Smile: The Little Album That Could by Peter Reum

Smiley Smile: The Little Album That Could by Peter  Reum

The effort to assemble the Smile album was effectively tabled by Brian Wilson in late December 1966, when he was told by David Anderle that a new single was overdue. In Paul Williams pioneering rock journal, Crawdaddy, Anderle said telling Brian that a single was overdue was the hardest thing he had to do while at Brother Records. Brian, who had Smile roughly 75% complete, had to shelf the album in favor of working on a new single.

In a frantic manner, in the winter of 1967, Brian recorded several segments of Heroes and Villains, shuffling the segments in a manner that seemed unfocused. In several subsequent interviews through the years concerning why Smile was shelved, Brian attributed his difficulty in finishing Smile to losing his focus and perspective. As time marched into late Spring 1967, Brian's inactivity spoke volumes about his exhaustion and mental health's deterioration. March 1967 was consumed with a lawsuit stating Capitol Records owed Brother Records a substantal amount of money for unpaid royalties due to an outdated policy Capitol used in the 1940s to charge off to artists' 78 rpm records that broke in shipment.

In April 1967, Brian set Heroes and Villains aside like he did Smile, and began work on a new single--Vegetables. Nearly all of his studio time in April was concerned with Vegetables.  In effect, both Smile and the first single, Heroes and Villains, from the album were set aside.

Brian, exhausted from 6 years of hectic work as a songwriter and producer, had a nervous collapse, which led to him telling the Beach Boys that he wanted more involvement from the group in studio work, and that he needed the guys in The Beach Boys to take over production of future singles and albums, because he needed to rest following his nervous collapse in May 1967. A quote from Carl Wilson regarding Brian's emotional frailty during and after this breakdown intimated that had the group pushed Brian during his collapse to produce the single and album, they might have never gotten Brian to do any future work for the Beach Boys. In June 1967, The Beach Boys, with Brian and Carl Wilson co-producing, used both Wally Heider's Studio 3 and Brian's Home Studio, still a makeshift studio under construction, to record this most eccentric of Brian's albums with The Beach Boys. The  use of Brian's home studio had to accommodate use of the mixing board on Beach Boys Tours in the late Sixties.

Smiley Smile was recorded in very primitive conditions, partly in Brian's new home studio, and it tends to show. Nevertheless, it has some great innovation. Coming on the heels of the Derek Taylor Smile publicity horse opera, it was probably commercially doomed from the start. Smiley Smile is the antithesis of what Smile was promoted by Taylor to be.


Smiley Smile Back Cover Art


Whereas Smile was ornate, broad brushed Baroque Rock Opera bathed in Americana and Elemental Mythology....Smiley Smile was a Zen Koan, a riddle, Minimalist in its approach, full of intuitive cues that were at once humorous, eerie, silly, and unexpected. To illustrate, some of the chants, spoofs, and some of the Van Dyke Parks written lyrics were retained for Smiley Smile, and others were shelved for future use. The influence of the shelving of Smile cannot be understated with respect to the minimalist approach on Smiley Smile. In a 1983 comprehensive interview with Geoffrey Himes, Carl Wilson reaffirmed the exhaustion and feelings of ambivalence Brian had after he ceased recording Smile. There is an observation by Carl in that interview that had The Beach Boys not understood Brian's state of mind after canning Smile, that "we might have lost him for good." It appeared to several observers at the time that the failure of Heroes and Villains to enter the top ten singles charts across the country drove Brian  further into self-doubt and fear, leading to sparse home brewed recordings in 1967. It is also likely that Brian's compulsive shuffling of recorded bits for Heroes and Villains led him to rewind his approach to studio recording, resulting in the homemade, subtle approach to Smiley Smile. In an interview that this author did with engineer Jim Lockert prior to his passing away, Lockert observed that Brian suspected several groups of spying on the Smile Sessions, with Brian then assembling Smiley Smile from five modular taped recordings into a finished album, thereby ensuring Smiley Smile's sound would not be copied by competing groups. In that sense, Smiley Smile was the first completed modular production approach album which was successfully assembled and then released in rock.

Author and musical analyst Daniel Harrison in a 1997 chapter in a book about musical structure made a crucial point that given the approach Brian took to Smiley Smile, it could not be regarded as a piece of art that could be compared to their albums of the late Sixties, and to compare it to those works does a disservice to Brian and his creativity. In a separate interview with Tom Nolan from a 1971 two part Rolling Stone article on The Beach Boys and Brian, fellow producer Terry Melcher makes two critical observations about the era of Smiley Smile. First, he recounts a story in which Brian and his friends formed a line of cars that went to a radio station in Los Angeles to offer that station the debut broadcast on radio of Heroes and Villains. The midnight disc jockey, not sure what to do, turned Brian down at first, then called his supervisor who screamed "put it on, you idiot!!!" Melcher goes on to say that the experience of not initially playing Heroes "killed Brian....it was like someone kicked him in the stomach and deflated him." With distance and perspective, it appears to this writer that whatever self-confidence Brian had regarding his songs being commercial disappeared forever. Later on, in 1975, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher signed an agreement with Brian to produce 15 sides for their Equinox Records label. Both men remarked in separate interviews that Brian was loathe to touch the mixing board, and thereby could not meet the requirements of his Equinox contract. Terry Melcher remarked that "they ought to give Brian a grant to be able to write and record whatever he wants without any expectations so he could follow his own muse." The simple fact is that Brian's commercial instincts ebbed after Smiley Smile, partially due to his internal voices, partially due to his refusal to step on the commercial recording treadmill again, and partially due to his inability to produce artists on Brother Records, and his own doubts about his ability to produce hit records.


Smiley Smile Front Cover Art

None of the factors cited above in any way diminish the beautiful simplicity of Smiley Smile. The creative heart of Smiley Smile is the non-verbal musical humor embedded in the tunes. When Carl Wilson called Smiley Smile "an album for Brian to cool out by," it was hard to imagine the levels of exhaustion and cross-talk that Brian was experiencing in his brain. The stark beauty of Smiley Smile, the subtle and idiosyncratic humor therein, and the overcoming of true and abject fear that Brian experienced because of the hostile voices he was hearing gave birth to Smiley Smile, but for Brian, the creative load was no longer bearable. The phrase "Produced by Brian Wilson" did not appear as a complete album credit until 15 Big Ones, recorded almost 10 years after Smiley Smile.

Here is a revised section on Brian's use of humor in recording partially taken from my article entitled Light the Lamp, with new material included, which I first wrote with the goal of searching for the sources of Brian's musically humorous approaches and expressions:

...So we begin our search for Brian Wilson's laughin' place....We know that Brian valued humor as a child and as a young adult from anecdotal evidence from childhood friends and The Wilson Brothers' own stories of his antics at home in Hawthorne, at school, later on the road, or in the studio. We also see that the albums we have enjoyed through the years have all had differing types of humor that evolved and changed as Brian grew older, became more worldly, and was more responsible for his extended family.


If we accept the definition of humor as outlined by Steven Sultanoff, Ph.D. from a well done 1997 article at the American Academy of Therapeutic Humor website entitled "What is Humor?", we find a definition in several parts. First, Dr. Sultanoff makes the point that "one way to experience humor is to experience incongruity in a familiar situation." Musically, this could be as complex as a song with a paradoxical twist at the end of it, a musical unexpected moment, or simply a picture of people that does not fit with standard behavior. An example of a musical punchline almost approaching a Zen koan in its emotional suddenness is the version of Wind Chimes on Smiley Smile. We are lulled into somnambulence listening to our wind chimes, almost to the point of total relaxation. If Brian were to loop the singing, it would surely have the quality of reducing distances between people. For Brian, humor was one way for a very shy and gifted teenager who was always on the edge of several social circles to be able to be accepted. This is well documented by David Leaf in his interviews with Rich Sloane and other high school friends of Brian's. A high school friend of Brian's tells the story of Brian's high school graduation, where Brian asked several friends to limp across the stage to get their diplomas. He told each person "everyone is doing it." Second, in the end, only Brian decided to limp. What would motivate Brian to do this?" The most likely answer is that Brian wanted to do something funny that would make the gesture by Brian the most memorable event at graduation.

Using Dr. Sultanoff's definition, the third purpose for humor is to dispel anger. In Brian's chaotic, abusive, alcoholic home, the major emotion he witnessed was anger. His father's volcanic temper could be tamed by two of Brian's gifts, music and humor. Brian used one or the other as often as he could in order to lighten the emotional tension in his mom and brothers' lives. There are several interviews with Brian, Dennis, and Carl which mention Brian telling funny jokes or singing songs to reduce the anger and fear that the boys routinely experienced and its consequential anxiety, which was always at a high level throughout their childhood. In this sense, we can attribute to humor a third and critical purpose for Brian, which was to alleviate anger, depression, and to reduce stress generated anxiety.


Another notorious part of Brian's sense of humor is the "put on." Even his best friends report difficulty determining at times whether the answers they are getting in conversations they have with him are complete fabrications or on the level. Don Was tells the story of asking Brian how he wrote Til' I Die during the I Just Wasn't Made for There Times Film. Brian replied by telling Don that he was trying to compose a song by "only playing the black keys." Don admits not knowing whether Brian's reply was true, or "Brian was just entertaining me." 

Dr. Sultanoff mentions a fourth purpose of humor as deflating or ridiculing the seriousness of a highly important topic. The song She's Going Bald is an example of this form of humor.  The song begins with a modified Brazilian jazz sound, with the topic of going bald being probably one of the worst problems a woman who values her appearance can have happen to her. Derived from a brief fragment in the Smile Session known as "He Gives Speeches,"  Mike Love added some lyrics that amplified the absurdity of the song. The sarcastic and angry tone of He Gives Speeches was altered to emphasize silliness instead of a more critical and sarcastic focus. One of the brilliant musical touches of humor Brian employed was to alter the vocals of part of the song using an Eltro Information Rate Changer. The Fifties tune "Get a Job" is quoted, only adding to the absurdity of the tune. The third part of the song mocks the urgent nature of the problem, a woman going bald. Finally, the call and response section of the tune's end, quoting a Fifties Rhythm and Blues type of singing breaks the news to the woman...."You're Too Late Mama, Ain't Nothin' Upside Your Head No more, No More, No More...."

Another purpose of Brian's Smiley Smile humor is  to dispel feelings of fear or being scared. Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (Woody Woodpecker Symphony) uses the same chord progression as Mrs. O'Leary's Cow from Smile.  Brian, quoted in an interview about Smile, remarks that the ominous chord progression from Mrs. O'Leary's Cow did not  have to be a "big and frightening tune." Instead,  he states that Fall Breaks and Back to Winter can be a "candle" instead of a "big scary fire."

The rest of the tunes on Smiley Smile can be placed in one or more of Dr. Sultanoff's purposes for humor. Smiley Smile's version of Wonderful, unlike the almost chamber music tone of the Smile version, is presented with an unusual spoken word bridge that is humorous instead. The song's bridge is somewhat discordant, lending an almost "musique concrete" feel to the song. The overall impression one takes away from repeated listens is an almost bemused wonder, bringing out the subtle smile the album's title evokes. The same feeling is generated by Little Pad and Whistle In, two modified "chants" which parallel some of Brian's work on Smile. Both tunes are repetitive. Whistle In simply repeats the phrase "Remember the day, remember the night, all day long...Whistle In." Little Pad is a little more developed, but still has the feeling of a Smile type of chant that has been modified to offer a feeling of living a more simplified life in Hawaii. The overall feel is a wistful type of happiness, as the listener places himself or herself in the vocalist's place.

A promotional album from the Smiley Smile period released by Capitol has an interview with Brian about the song With Me Tonight, in which Brian is asked why there is a loud "GOOD!!!" included in the otherwise hypnotic sounds of the song. Brian responds by saying "oh that was Arny Geller, and we liked how it sounded so we just left it in." This almost Zen acceptance of what could have been considered a blown take of the song again illustrates the whimsy and humorous attitude Brian and The Beach Boys took  in recording Smiley Smile. Brian instinctively understood the necessity of humor in his childhood to distract his younger brothers from the fury of Murry Wilson's outbursts of rage. Humor became a prime coping method for Brian to be able to laugh off the fear of his father when intoxicated, which in turn was also protective of his younger brothers using distraction to dispel their fear as well.

Gettin'  Hungry is the first tune written by Brian and Mike Love with Brian fulfilling his promise to write an album's worth of songs with Mike. This promise was made just before recording Pet Sounds, and the Smile Sessions using Van Dyke Parks as lyricist delayed the keeping of that promise, with Mike possibly feeling cast aside. Brian, deciding to keep his promise to Mike, wrote Getting Hungry with Mike, and this second single from Smiley Smile was not released as a Beach Boys song, but as performed by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Gettin' Hungry was a hit in some parts of the world, but not in the USA. The organ and other instruments in the song are more Rhythm and Blues in tone, making it sound more like a Wild Honey tune than a Smiley Smile track. It may have fit better there.

Vegetables is a song that makes fun of, yet promotes the dietary benefits of eating vegetables and fruit. The Los Angeles region of California has historically been obsessed with being healthy and trying to maintain a youthful appearance for as long as possible. Brian toyed with exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, but did not maintain a consistent approach. A few years later, Brian's Radiant Radish health food store graced the Hollywood area for roughly a year. The reversed laughs in the tag of Vegetables are from the Smile version.

For Brian, humor is indeed a gift from God. He has been quoted repeating that idea in several interviews down the years. For him, the good feelings and relief that came from being funny and getting laughs generated from brothers and friends were a lifesaver. Dr. Sultanoff mentions in his article that as anxiety increases, a person's ability to maintain healthy self-esteem, realistic self-perspective, and ultimately, sanity, decreases. He mentions that the effect that is commonly seen therapeutically is that "without humor, peoples' thoughts become increasingly  stuck and narrowly focused."  That phenomenon is one of the primary reasons Brian stopped working on Smile.

Brian got a form of emotional release from crippling social anxiety and humorous relief from seeing conflict. He scripted a scene at a rehearsal for Heroes and Villains after the 1967 Hawaiian Live Concerts in which Mike Love actually reads a Brian authored script making fun of Brian for having a less successful sales result with the Heroes and Villains single than anticipated. Brian is making fun of Mike making fun of Brian and Van Dyke's art during Smile's recording several months beforehand. There is a complex form of humor which is a form of payback for Mike's discomfort with Van Dyke Park's lyrics for Smile, yet Brian is also ridiculing himself for thinking that Smile would be accepted by the group as a Beach Boys album. Self-deprecation is a major form of expression of humor that Brian finds funny. 

If we carefully listen to Brian's humorous songs. we have a window into his feelings. For Brian, humor was the safe outlet to express the anger and hostility he felt for the wrongs that life had dealt him as a child and young adult. The Cassius Love vs. Sonny Wilson script is one written mostly by Brian on Shut Down Volume 2, and reflects some of the frustration Brian felt with his relationship with his cousin, but more importantly, his father, Murry. We see that Brian found humor in replaying the arguments of his childhood in his art. The famous story about Brian wanting to have his Smile era pals go out and provoke a bar fight to be tape recorded for Smile was serious. There is also Brian's skit from April 1967 which has Hal Blaine (imitating Murry) arguing with Dennis about whether Dennis can have some Vegetables because he is hungry. Hal says "get outta here you punk, and take your dog with you!" Does anyone else catch the similarity to the lines of a certain witch in the Wizard of Oz?

Above, in this article, we asked what Brian finds funny, and why he might limp across the stage at his high school graduation. One answer is that Brian finds the opportunity to sneakily get back at those who he perceives as hurting him as funny, and the actual act of doing so hilarious. To limp across the stage at his high school graduation was to say to his tyrannical father, "Hah! you won't be able to tell me what to do much longer, because I'm going to be my own boss. Screw you for wanting this to be a dignified occasion!" Brian finds humor in being able to put one over on people he considers intrusive, rude, pushy, or as bullies. 

Perhaps the ultimate expression of what Brian finds funny is his complex, yet hilarious send up of himself and his father regarding the ongoing and terribly damaging conflict in their relationship in I'm Bugged At My Old Man on Summer Days. The absurdity of a millionaire Beverly Hills musician singing 12 bar blues about having his phone ripped out of the wall and having boards tacked up on the windows, while "dad is out there eating steak" is brilliant, and went over everyone's heads in 1965. This is a valid yet hysterically funny expression of Brian's incredible anger at his dad for all that had happened in his life, most recently his dad's infidelity to his mom, which also spawned the more emotionally wrenching Let Him Run Wild, also on Summer Days.

Brian also is highly interested in the use of visual humor, and began to utilize pratfalls, camera tricks, absurdity, and even Three Stooges gags to illustrate his music beginning with Pet Sounds. We see Brian, in the Sloop John B promotional film greeting what we assume to be Brian, only to have the unseen person turn around and be Carl. They all carry a life raft into a swimming pool, then proceed to swamp it, turning it over and falling into the pool. In the Good Vibrations Promotional Film, several Beach Boys slide up a fire station pole after sliding down. In another Pet Sounds Promotional film, Brian employs the use of masks to create a surreal atmosphere involving confused identities. These ideas, had they been further developed in Smile, would have likely resulted in some ground breaking performance art comedies of the type later used on MTV. There were discussions of a complete album related to comedy with accompanying visuals. Instead, Brian's incorporation of humor into Smiley Smile was primarily expressed in sound, which helps distinguish the overall difference of Smiley Smile from Smile. 

Returning to the subject of therapeutic humor, Dr. Sultanoff's article points out that humor is a highly idiosyncratic experience which is unique to each human being. We are left to wonder what else Brian himself finds humorous. His use of humor in his music has had the effect of bringing him and his fans together. This phenomenon has been substantiated by several researchers in the field of humor. What we subjectively find funny is something that Brian intuitively grasped from the very first Beach Boy album, with its self-deprecating descriptions of the five band members in the song Chug-a Lug. Brian realized that in order to connect with his audience, he had to share humor with them in such a manner that they could find a universally common frame of reference in his music. The audience can picture themselves in The Beach Boys' place in Chug-a-Lug. His music transcended its immediate California locale to become something even teenagers in landlocked states and frosty foreign countries could understand. Humor in Brian's music had the quality of replacing mundane feelings of life with pleasurable experiences that everyone could feel were honest and truthful. 

According to humor researchers, we experience humor in three ways...through our intellect, emotions, and physiology. Brian's music primarily connected with us emotionally in the early years. We felt the honesty in his records, and how they reflected our experiences in life.  Smiley Smile began a shift from emotional humor, often called mirth, to cognitive humor, called wit. 

Brian had been influenced by the creative use of humor in the work of Jan Berry throughout his career, and at the same time Pet Sounds had been recorded, Jan had issued an album designed to piggyback the mid Sixties Batman television show craze. Undoubtedly, Brian admired Jan's ability to express humor on Jan & Dean records dating back to Schlock Rod Parts 1 & 2 on their Drag City album. Brian heard the Jan & Dean Meet Batman Album, and decided perhaps there were some ideas to develop there on Smile. By the time of Smile's distillation into Smiley Smile, humor was the central motif presented. 

During the Smile Sessions, Brian had the advantage of working for the first time with a musician whose abilities equaled his own. Van Dyke Parks brought a literate sense of word play in the writing of lyrics, hearkening back to the 1930s and 40s in American popular music when brilliant songwriters  like Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the Gershwin Brothers dominated music with snappy wit and beautiful melodies. If Brian were aiming for a new American Musical Style, he had found his match. 

Parks' lyrics presented the listener with the challenge of deciding whether to take them somewhat literally or at levels of deeper meaning. There are multiple options for interpretation in each tune, and the lyrics to songs such as Heroes and Villains and Wonderful offer puns  double entendres, and whimsy, often quoting other American classics and favorite children's songs. Brian's musical tracks continued to connect on an emotional basis. What is fascinating is that for the first time , we consistently experience a multi-modal attack using humor on Smiley Smile. In Vegetables, for example, we hear funny pouring sound effects while listening to puns and whimsical lyrics at the same time. In Wonderful, the lyrics we hear are those that remind us of archetypal images from fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. In Heroes and Villains, the picture of Bugs Bunny and his ongoing battles with Yosemite Sam in the Old West emerge, while also referencing a rooster's call in the lyric "what a dude'll do in a town full of Heroes and Villains.

It is ironic that in the recording sessions for Smile from 1966, an album that was intended to celebrate humor and its healing properties, caused Brian to become so anxious and out of self-control that his ability to see the big picture became narrower and narrower, to the point that he believed that he had to scrap Smile to save his life, his sanity, and his emotional balance and perspective. Brian instinctively drew back from Smile, and shared what had become the overbearing burden of creativity with his band mates. Together, in an environment of stoned silliness, Brian shifted some of the burden of creativity to his brothers, cousin, and friends, deciding to work on healing his fractured psyche  using the very human resilience that had preserved his human resilience for a future he did not think was possible until the Post Landy period of his life.

Smiley Smile, as released in 1967, began to take on the added dimension of highly pictorial musicak performance, giving we listeners the chance to interpret some of the nuances heard in this 1966-67 recording. In Smiley Smile, the intellectual and emotional connecting experience was turned on its ear by the use of slapstick, a third approach to humor, evoking deep laughter, the physiological component of humor. For the unprepared listener in 1967, Derek Taylor's publicity campaign had created an unprecedented anticipation for an American Rock album. Why did it leave Brian emotionally spent? Brian lost the ability to find the humor in his own Smile music, consumed with his rivalry with The Beatles. However, in asking for the group's help on Smiley Smile, Brian was able to back away from his work on Smile and to allow the other Beach Boys to contribute in a fully creative manner, creating a multi-modal approach that transcends his previous work by using and blending various types of humor to create a new form of art. Dr. Sultanoff, in a 1994 article entitled "Exploring the Land of Mirth and Funny" makes the following important observation...."the fullest, and most powerful experience of humor is one that is experienced with all three components (wit, mirth, and laughter) simultaneously."

We are left to wonder how Brian instinctively knew that his creative muse would return by inviting his fellow Beach Boys to contribute to the creation of Smiley Smile. For the close listener, the chance to experience humor in all its forms awaits on Smiley Smile. Perhaps it is the very resilience of Brian Wilson himself and his ability to see humor in the most tragic of circumstances that enabled him to create an work of art with his group that is so powerful that it meets we listeners on all possible planes of human levity.

If resilience is the ability of people to bounce back from the most deadening of experiences in life, it is no coincidence that Smile would be the most resilient of Brian Wilson musical works. We are left with a few thoughts from people about humor.... 



"Tragedy plus time equals humor." Carol Burnett 



"Humor is a great, the great thing, the saving thing, after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place." Mark Twain


"Humor is sacred, a gift from God." Brian Wilson 


Dr. Sultanoff's ground breaking work may be found at his website: HumorMatters 







Some Final Reflections on Smiley Smile:



Both Smile and Smiley Smile were recorded using modular formatting, but whereas Smile proved too complex to assemble, Smiley Smile was completed in a roughly three week period, and recorded "dry" without echo. Recorded in modular format and assembled in a final mix by Jim Lockert, Bill Halverson, and Stephen Desper, it proved that the modular method of recording was not only feasible, but capable of being used for an entire album.


Brian's self-preserving instincts seemed to tell him that if had kept up the pace of the first 5 years, under Capitol Records contract, he would have ended up either in a straight jacket or suicidal. In effect, Smiley Smile was the first "therapeutic album" that Brian did, some 10 years before 15 Big Ones, Adult Child, and Beach Boys Love You. Little did he realize that it would prove therapeutic for thousands of listeners as well. Carl Wilson, in a number of interviews from the Seventies and Eighties, often termed Smiley Smile "music for Brian to cool down/chill out while recording." Smiley Smile was also seen as a "back to basics album" in which Brian help produce but which other Beach Boys were expected to contribute actively as well. In a late Sixties interview, Brian termed Smile "music that was too personal to release."

Track by track:

Heroes and Villains

Undoubtedly my favorite Beach Boy 45. Incredible in its power. An example of how amazing the human voice can be used as an instrument. Had it been released at another time, when art rock was more accepted, e.g. after Hey Jude and MacArthur Park, it would have been a better seller. A perfect marriage of music and lyrics, it was rock critic Paul Williams's favorite single,  and is mine as well. A wealth of ideas in roughly three and a half minutes, and based on the River Deep Mountain High baseline, it is the aural equivalent of a three ring circus, with so much to hear that it reveals more upon each play. Recorded in small sound snippets, Heroes was the single tune that proved hardest for Brian to sequence and complete. He worked the equivalent studio time of recording and sequencing for entire previousBeach Boys albums on the Heroes and Villains single. From October 1967 until 1990, Brian refused to sing Heroes and Villains in live concerts. Since 1990, it has become a song Brian loves to sing with his incredible backing band.

Vegetables

This should have been the second single off Smiley Smile, but got shunted aside by group vote. A nice version, certainly commercial, with a catchy tag. The reverse laughs at the end are a marvel of rock music singing. The humor here is more subtle than on the Smile version. The heartbeat bass, the sounds of juice being poured, the crunching and "mmmms", and the break into  a Stephen Foster bridge just before the end all add a more subtle approach than one might expect.

Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (Woody Woodpecker Symphony)

Composed during the Smile period after a camping trip to Redwood Country, it of course contains the chord progression and vocals intended for Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. I have always believed this piece was linked to Elements in some manner. It has a similar chord progression to MOLC. In the true stereo mix, it sounds quite spooky. The distorted bass vocal combined with the various harmonicas make the tune at once gently mocking and foreboding. The tone of the tune is reminiscent of death and decay, with the promise of new life in the coming spring signified by the call of the woodpecker. The tune has a way of reminding me of Randy Newman's classic song "Snow."

She's Going Bald

Credited to Van Dyke as co-author, he can't remember writing it. It is possible his credit was put on here as a practical joke. The dope influenced tape effect and sophmoric lyrics are typical of Beach Boy humor of the time. Probably as close to an obvious humor track on this album as exists. Obviously derived from He Gives Speeches. Perhaps this is why it is partially credited to Van Dyke. He Gives Speeches was targeted at Murry, and it is likely that this reframing of the tune was Brian's way of not pulling the trigger in a negative manner and making fun of his father like he did on Summer Days.

Little Pad

This tune is a model of modular recording. Using five recorded modules with two of them repeated, Brian schools the group in how to assemble a full length tune. Great track, great Hawaiian guitar effect, nice wordless singing section. Like many of Brian's songs from here on out, an idea left incomplete. This one is an obvious stoner tune. The song begins with a "Do it!", then proceeds to a section shared by Mike's lead vocal, laughs, and kazoos. The Hawaiian Guitar module kicks in at 16 seconds into the tune, then lasts for 23 seconds, followed by a finger snap, then roughly 20 seconds of ukelele, then into Carl's second verse  at 60 seconds, followed by a reprise of the Hawaiian Guitar module for another 23 seconds, the ukelele section with wordless vocals pops in for 20 more seconds, Brian comes back in for a brief third verse, followed by the third reprise of the Hawaiian Guitar segment to fade.  The Hawaiian Guitar module is repeated three times, and the ukelele section is repeated twice.

Good Vibrations

Probably the Sloop John B of Smiley Smile. It doesn't fit with the rest of the album, but probably was needed for sales of this album. In this Minimalist context, it became more of a reminder of what was lost when Smile was shelved, and in this sense, it became a cement overcoat when The Beach Boys were doing their best to tread water.

With Me Tonight

An undeveloped tune based off a riff written during Smile. The weird "good" that you hear about 30 seconds into the song is by Arny Geller. It is one of those little Brian surprise artifacts that  make the album a Zen type of experience.  Better developed by Sandy Salisbury than by Brian himself. The Salisbury version should have been a hit, but got buried on the Together records label and disappeared.

Wind Chimes

Incredible example of Brian's subtle use of humor in his music. Brilliantly recorded and executed, perhaps the most influential Smiley Smile track on other musicians. The whole tune is a prank, lulling the listener into a near trance, then shocking one back to reality with an unexpected fuzztone. If you were stoned listening to it, you'd be even more shocked. I love the Yogi  Bear sounding ting-a-ling by Mike twice toward the end...more humor.

Gettin' Hungry

The last track recorded for the album, and sonically closer to Wild Honey. A departure from the rest of the album soundwise, it has a computer sounding organ piece alternating with a breathy lead vocal from Mike. Chosen to be the album's second single with the provision that it come out as a Brian Wilson/Mike Love single. Gettin' Hungry was also a gesture on Brian's part to make peace with a bruised Mike Love, who had been told by Brian that there would only be one ornate "arty" album, only to be put on hold for Smile. This song was chosen by Brian over Vegetables, which was the intended second single. A political "family peace" move.

Wonderful

A dramatic departure from Brian's almost classical approach to this tune for Smile, the track is riddled with sounds that play against each other, such as a clarinet playing out of tune notes, the sounds of children playing, and on the incredible bridge to the song, Brian singing "cool it....just cool it" over against Carl saying "don't think your God Vibrations will make it off the record." The bridge has been cited by numerous choral composers as a  radical use of the spoken voice to make music. A minimalist tour de force, and certainly the most radical of the innovations on an already innovative album.

Whistle In

The coda to the album....a fitting conclusion to an album so Minimalist, so subtle that it is missed by most who listen to it. Can you imagine the sound of one hand clapping????

Copyright 2017 by Peter Reum--All Rights Reserved