Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Due to my workload the last few months, I had been waiting on hearing a recording of a concert from earlier this year... Even with that level of workload, I'm in shock I hadn't bothered to listen until tonight. I had a recording of Brian Wilson recording Smile!!! Yes, Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, performing probably the most famous "unfinished" album in history... live! I'm still in shock that my ears have been able to hear a finished version of this album... I heard Brian's version of how it was supposed to be, not an attempt I or another Brian Wilson fanatic created by editing together the scraps of recordings that have leaked out in the last 38 years.

38 years! This year is 38 years after the album was first supposed to be released! And this year Brian is not only touring with the album, he's going to release it! (though it does sound like it's largely re-recorded, but hey, I'll accept it)

As for the finished album, it's harder to judge. This doesn't grab me like Pet Sounds does, but then again, Pet Sounds did not grab me the first several times I heard it. Perhaps a large part of the reason I held off on listening for so long was I had a strong feeling that the album may not have been able to live up to the expectations one develops as they try to puzzle together all of the scraps to figure out what the 24 year old Brian intended. The finished version is definitely surprising. Many pieces came at me at times I did not expect, and every time I heard a new piece I was wonderfully surprised. Parts finally had lyrics where they never did before, and many pieces finally made some sense. Of course, I prefer some aspects of my own attempts at piecing the album together from scraps: Surf's Up really should have been the album closer. It is a much better ending than Good Vibrations.. but maybe that's just me having a bit of a preference for the knock-out endings for albums like Sgt. Pepper's unearthly ending with "A Day In The Life", or Abbey Road's coda "The End" (and the false endings in both cases) Though, even though Brian Wilson and the Beatles were constantly comparing themselves to each other, this comparison is probably unfair. Brian nearly always made a point of trying to end things on an optimistic note (Pet Sounds is an exception), and Good Vibrations is about as optimistic as it gets. Brian Wilson is not the Beatles. However, finally being able to hear a rough but finished version of Brian's other masterwork, even though he was basically on his own, he wasn't too far removed in terms of genius from the combined power of four or five of the greatest forces in popular music operating at their peak. In its finished form, it may not quite equal the sheer brilliance (I better end this post before I run out of superlative adjectives..) of Pet Sounds, it stands up quite well to that other album that Paul McCartney has called "necessary to anyone's musical education".

Would this album have changed the world had it actually been released in 1967? Probably not a lot. It was probably too weird even for the summer of love. The 15 minute song sequences are far more abstract in their material than what the Beatles attempted on Abbey Road, and far less obviously structured. The public had enough trouble following the Beach Boys to their more serious efforts like Pet Sounds. I doubt they would have known what to do with the album. Some would have been influenced greatly by this album, but probably about the same as were influenced by the legend of the album and the glimpses of its brilliance that Brian allowed the world from time to time.

Now to wait a few months for the rerecorded version to actually be released, and continue to compare my edit of the album against Brian's live version, and of course hope against hope that a boxed set comes out properly documenting Brian's original ill-fated attempt at the album.

Anyways, Brian, thank you, you've left a smile on my face tonight. (yes, I'll end this post on a cheesy note)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Political thought #1 (well on here anyways)

As a partisan, I want to see Kerry have every penny possible to fight Bush... but honestly, this is getting silly. The Republicans manipulated things so they would have their convention VERY late and maximize the effect of their money, and the Democrats are trying to minimize that advantage... though by at the very least very unorthodox means. (a convention where a person does all but accept the nomination, do we really want that to be the news story to come from it?!?!)

A simple (and thusly probably stupid) idea: since we broker most issues federally between the two largest parties, why not just agree in the future to switch off weeks just after the Olympics between the two parties. One election the Democrats get the 1st week after the Olympics, four years later the Republicans get that week. The conventions occur two weeks apart. (or maybe even one week apart to get those things over quicker)

Yes, this is probably unfair to third parties. Right now I don't care. I want this silliness over with.

The deluge of unchecked babble continues...

So it has begun

I had always assumed that if I ever bother doing some sort of online journal, I would wait until I have my own domain and a nice account where I could reinvent the wheel and write my own scripts so that I can have the fun of debugging tons more code, and have eons of fun patching all of the invetitable flaws that would delete everything every other day...

Well, at least for now, that does not seem to be the case. Right now I doubt anyone who knows me in real life knows about this, so no one knows my horrible horrible secrets who is reading this. Rest assured they are horrible. (many pillow-cases are missing their tags to give you an idea)

However, as I saw only too well the last post got a comment within a few minutes of me posting, so apparently I am not only talking to myself (at least in theory), so it begins.. not much else to say, clever or not.

I'll start randomly ranting sooner rather than later most likely.

If the world will end in a whimper, how will this begin?

I am not sure what if anything will be the result of my excursion into the world of blogging, but throwing caution (and whatever semblance of privacy I still hold) to the wind, it begins. For starters, I'm curious if anyone randomly reading this knows: is it really safe to buy books for college courses in the US from off-shore (in this case British) online sites. There's a mathematics book that I need for a Math class I have this summer. It is $114 in the bookstore or through, but as far as I can tell less than half that (even including shipping!) if I get it through
The lengths of the books are the same, as is the publishing date, so this seems like the book would be exactly the same... and I am cheap.. (ask anyone who knows me)

More thoughts later when/if I ever have any.