''Music is the solution,'' writes Brian Wilson in his new memoir.
How can a man who is deaf in one ear and plagued by voices in his head create some of the most groundbreaking songs in history? I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir written by Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman shows you how. In his honest yet hesitant voice, Brian Wilson takes you on a journey into the life of a creative genius, exploring his turbulent life and creative influences and how, regardless of his inner and outer demons, there is always hope.
Best known as co-founding member of The Beach Boys, Wilson's life story is no beach. Some may call this a memoir of a musical genius but in many ways it's simply a memoir of a man, who, just like the rest of us, is trying to find his way through life and make sense of all his struggles. Everybody, when faced with hardships, has some kind of coping mechanism to lean on when times get tough. Wilson has tried the lot: drugs, alcohol, and social isolation. But in the end, his escape always comes back to his first true love: music. Music is, after all, the solution.
I am Brian Wilson: A Memoir isn't the kind of book you can read in a day. Like a summer vacation, you want it to last forever. You don't want to jump in the ocean and go straight home. You want to take your time and absorb every thought, every doubt, every feeling that crosses the mind of one of the world's most influential composers. And that's exactly what you get from this book.
When Brian Wilson was in his senior year of high school, he penned a paper called ''My Philosophy'' where he talks about how he saw the world. From the way he constantly questions and reflects on things throughout this book, it's clear that Wilson is just as curious today as he was as a teen - a clear sign of a true artist. Maybe we never get to find the answers to our questions but we can learn to make sense of them for ourselves, in our own way. Sometimes, as the saying goes, you have to go back to move forward. It's not always easy to talk or even think about the tough parts of your life. But for our own sake, we need to understand them....somehow.
Even when it comes to his father, Murray Wilson, who also happened to be the first manager of The Beach Boys and the man who deafened Wilson with his fist, Brian Wilson doesn't mull over his misfortunes. Instead, ''I have to try to understand him,'' as he says. Just like he doesn't let limits rule his music, he neither lets the wrath of his father dominate his life. That being said, he does talk a lot about his father. You get the impression that he's still trying to make sense of that relationship even today.
Wilson prefers to reflect on memories of his two dead brothers and band mates, Carl and Dennis, and on his creative influences. If you want to know what inspired hits like ''God Only Knows'' and ''Good Vibrations'' to be made, this book will show you. You can literally watch a single thought or feeling transform into a song and, music lover or not, it's mesmerizing. It's like watching an artist at work, only, instead of merely watching, you feel like you're in Wilson's mind and part of his thoughts. It's a great place to be if you want to know how musicians function.
Music, however, isn't Wilson's only love. From the way he refers to her in almost every paragraph of the book, you can tell that he adores Melinda Wilson, his wife of 21 years. She's seen it all: the ups and the downs. ''Without her I might have still been the last surviving Wilson, but I wouldn't have been completely alive,'' says Wilson.
As a memoir, honest and insightful. But it's very much a memoir of a musician. From reading this book, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the man behind some of the world's greatest hits and for music in general. Music is Brian Wilson. Music is the solution.
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir, Da Capo Press, is out October 11. Pre-order a copy here.