Saturday, January 21, 2006
Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boy fame) on Jesus of Nazareth:
"I know a carpenter who had a dream. You killed the man, but you couldn't kill the dream."
(In the comments below, someone wrote the following: "I once read someplace that Dennis was married twelve times. I'll have to double-check. But I'm fairly sure that the last woman he married before he died was Mike Love's 19-year-old niece, Sherry Love. Since Mike and Dennis were cousins, I can only assume she and Dennis were related as well." Here are my thoughts on the matter. Whoever wrote that, you're flying pretty close to the sun!):
Actually, it was Mike Love's illegitimate 18-year-old daughter (even worse). He impregnated her seemingly out of spite for Mike Love. He also regularly used to take women into Mike Love's "Meditation Chamber" on the Beach Boys' touring airplane. I like to think of it more abstractly as an acrimonious apologetic against Eastern Religions. Anyway, as far as Mike Love is concerned, the stories involving Dennis are painfully terrible. Mike actually got a restraining order against Dennis! An amazing, almost unbelievable story.
With the Beach Boys, nothing is ever simple. They are impossibly difficult to reduce to a simple interpretive paradigm. As David Zahl (the real Beach Boys expert, who is at this moment researching a book he is writing about the Beach Boys, the definitive Biography!) once remarked: "One thing you can't say about Brian Wilson is that he has completely lost it!" "Wow," I thought, "I was always pretty sure that that was the one thing you could safely say about Brian..." That's more or less how I always feel when I start interacting with the Beach Boys.
As far as I'm concerned, Dennis Wilson was the ultimate rock star. He bought and totalled a Rolls Royce in the same day. He is by far my favorite beach boy, and the only member of the band who could surf. Dennis may have been the world's most sentimental song-writer as well. And like the infamous "Smile" album, that remained uncompleted and secretly traded for so long, Dennis himself had a secret solo project, the Smile within Smile, called (no kidding) "Bamboo". I've spent hefty dough to get most of that material. It's some of my favorite stuff ever. His songs: "Companion" and "Love Surrounds Me" are all-time faves, and the break on "Pacific Ocean Blues" will have you convinced your listening to an instrumental out-take from the Beastie Boys "Check Your Head" sessions.
But, in light of his profoundly sentimental tendencies, and his severe alcoholism, he prayed and sought the Lord in times of distress. He wrote songs about Christmas, songs about Jesus, endless amounts of songs that describe in mushy detail the need of the heart for love from outside, and, in a binge-y moment with his brother (Brian) he recorded a song called "Oh Lord" in which he cries out to God: "Oh Lord, let me see what there is to see...etc". It is gut-wrenching (as is most of Dennis' most heart-felt gravelly singing), and a fantastic call from the sinner seeking God's absolution. In CS Lewis terms, we are dealing with the ultimate Edmond! I'm convinced we'll see him in heaven.
P.s., DZ was joking about Two-Lane Black Top. I got two copies of it for Christmas a few years ago. Unbearably slow. I tried to watch it all the way through twice, and after what seemed like hours, discovered I'd only reached the 45-minute mark (both times). --JAZ
Posted by John Zahl at 11:23 PM