Synopses & Reviews
Brian Wilson was the visionary behind America's most successful and influential rock band. And as the leader of the Beach Boys, he sold 100 million records, produced Pet Sounds
, and built a catalog of songs that continues to define the sound and feel of American popular music. He also became one of the culture's most mysterious and tragic figures. But after spending years lost in a wilderness of despair, Wilson has fought his way back to productivity. And now with teh release of Smile
the masterwork that nearly undid him he has returned to music's center stage.
Now Peter Ames Carlin, who conducted in-depth, exclusive interviews with dozens of sources and listened to hundreds of hours of unreleased studio recordings and live music, tells a uniquely American story of the band, the music, and the culture the Beach Boys both sang about and helped create. Carlin brings a fan's passion, a seasoned journalist's objectivity, and a cultural critic's insight to his subject, and the result is a magesterial and authoritative account of the Beach Boys' visionary figure, who has emerged into a new era of creativity.
"In this exhaustive tome, former People magazine writer Carlin chronicles the lives of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. By now the Wilson story is well-known, and Carlin doesn't stray much from the script: Wilson's abuse at the hands of his cantankerous father, Murry; his decline into depression; his drug use; and the band's slide from the top of the charts, singing about surfing and fast cars, to the depths of despair and, ultimately, Wilson's redemptive 2004 release of Smile. While the major beats of the story may not be news to fans, Carlin's comprehensive research adds an entirely welcome perspective. Based on numerous primary interviews, and parsing through hundreds of hours of unreleased studio tape, he succeeds in rendering an immediate and often heart-wrenching look at both the psychological abuse and the artistic muse that prodded Wilson to greatness and paralyzing depression. In one memorable passage drawn from the studio session tape, Carlin renders the torment endured by Wilson at the hands of his father during the recording of the hit 'Help Me, Rhonda.' It is moments like these, mixed in with Carlin's sober insights, that raise this effort a cut above the standard rock biography. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A Beach Boys fan before he was a senior writer at People (he's since moved on), Carlin proves the ideal person to pen a highly readable and substantive book on this particular rock legend." Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"Great evocations of a great musician and the pop group he built, via great prose. Grade: A." Entertainment Weekly
Carlin, who conducted in-depth, exclusive interviews with dozens of sources and listened to hundreds of hours of unreleased studio recordings and live music, tells a uniquely American story of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.
Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, along with Mike Love and Al Jardine - better known as the Beach Boys, rocketed out of a working-class Los Angeles suburb in the early sixties, and their sun-and-surf sound captured the imagination of kids across the world. In a few short years, they rode the wave all the way to the top, standing with the Beatles as one of the world's biggest bands. Despite their utopian visions, infectious hooks, and stunning harmonies, the Beach Boys were beset by drug abuse, jealousy, and terrifying mental illness. In "Catch a Wave", Peter Ames Carlin pulls back the curtain on Brian Wilson, one of popular music's most revered luminaries, as well as its biggest mystery. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and never-before heard studio recordings, Carlin follows the Beach Boys from their earliest days through Brian's deepening emotional problems to his triumphant re-emergence with the release of Smile, the legendarily unreleased album he had originally shelved.
About the Author
Peter Ames Carlin's award-winning reportage on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys has appeared in the New York Times, People, American Heritage, and the Portland Oregonian, where he is currently the newspaper's television critic. Previously he was a senior writer for People in New York.