Director: Alan Boyd
Producer: Stephanie Bennett
Executive Producer: Robert F. Katz
Sound Department: Tony Smyles
IMDB synopsis: None
Sample IMDB review:
Surf’s Up! 5 September 2005
“Endless Harmony” is an appropriate name for a story about The Beach Boys. It’s sarcastic and true at the same time. Sarcastic when you look at the situation within the band and the Wilson family, which had little to do with harmony most of the time. True when you listen to the beautiful, timeless music the band made. There are so many funny, sad and genuinely messed up moments in the Beach Boys story, that it would take no less than a 5 DVD Box Set à la The Beatles’ “Anthology” to tell the story properly. At normal feature length “Endless Harmony” leaves one longing for more in depth information about the creation of all the big hits, the Wilson’s family story or the conflict between the individual band members. The documentary touches all those topics and also features early video clips (most of them in their full length) and some pretty interesting alternative takes of familiar songs (for instance, a beautiful version of “‘Til I Die”). Recommendable for fans of the Beach Boys and anybody who’s interested to learn about one of the most important bands in rock history.
00:50 to 01:02 (of 01:45)
Timothy White: Brian got the sense, and this happened in an incremental way, that anything was possible (as an instrumental session take for Good Vibrations plays), and he took the psychedelic idioms that were popular in the mid-60s, and he put them together with a new level of pop ambition.
Brian: Good Vibrations? (tells mom & dogs vibrations story) So, I wrote a song called Good Vibrations.
TOTP clip of Good Vibrations, the one where they’re in white suits and it has all that weird echo at the end.
Carol Kaye: (bass player on Good Vibrations, while playing the Good Vibrations bassline) What a lot of people don’t know about that feel is that it’s a jazz feel, and the fact that they sang on top of the jazz. I mean it was very cohesively jazz.
Mike: and then I came up with the part i’m picking up good vibrations – he had the track, but he didn’t have the i’m picking up good vibrations. And the REASON I chose to come up with that part was, firstly that it was the bassline, but second of all, the track was so WEIRD (laughs).
Early version of Good Vibrations plays:
i hope it’s good good go-od good vibrations yeah
Mike: Everything else up to the time was like I Get Around, Fun Fun Fun, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin’ USA – and then all of sudden (makes car skidding sound) – here’s Good Vibrations, with that weird mystical-sounding track – and I thought ‘oh my GOODNESS, our fans, the public, is gonna freak out when they hear this, they’re not gonna get this’ – so what I said was ‘well the one thing that people understand is boy/girl, attraction: ‘I’m picking up good vibrations, she’s giving me excitations’. So I wrote it from a boy/girl perspective.
TOTP clip of Good Vibrations, the one where they’re in white suits and it has all that weird echo at the end cuts in:
i don’t know where but she sends me there
Hal Blaine: It took us 6 weeks to do Good Vibrations, and we would come in here sometimes for 10, 15 minutes, and we would play, and Brian wold say ‘thank you gentlemen’, and that would be it. Other times we would be in for 4, 5, 6, 7 hours.
Al: Yeah, that was really schizophrenic that recording – it was recorded in many different studios, 3 to be exact, and then spliced together
Brian: Everyone that heard it said ‘that’s a Number One Record’ – they were so flipped, and so excited, and so into it, they guaranteed me it would be a Number One Record. It was.
TOTP clip of Good Vibrations, the one where they’re in white suits and it has all that weird echo at the end cuts in again:
gotta keep those loving good vibrations…ahhhhh
Drumbeat stops dead with reverb, fades to black.
Heroes and Villains ‘sections’ plays:
Al: We started to get indications that Brian was taking some hallucinogens, like LSD and stuff like that – a lot of the writers were doing that at the time – but it took a tremendous toll from him. He drove me around the parking lot of William Morris about 20 times, explaining to me about this great trip he had just taken, and I just wanted to be as far away from that as possible! Because I didn’t want to know about it – I wanted the INNOCENCE.
Terry Melcher: Of all the people I have ever met in the rock and roll business, no one ever approached Brian Wilson in terms of talent – or complete unpredictablity.
Footage of the Fire session is shown, as used in An American Band, with the same Carl Wilson inserts, soundtracked with:
bicycle rider just see what you’ve done
done to the church of the american indian
(take ends with Carl’s voice saying ‘I like it’)
Fade to black.
Bruce: The Smile album had the brilliant little track sections that he never connected, and then he abandoned Smile.
Sean Lennon: Smile is unbelievable, it’s the most amazing thing i’ve ever heard.
Our Prayer plays as Smile artwork is shown:
Bruce: …brilliant little music bites…
Wonderful plays, to stills of Brian in the studio (a poor illustration of Bruce’s argument, as Wonderful is not a ‘music bite’, but a completed track)
Terry: He wrote that with Van Dyke, who he met at my house. Van Dyke was working on Byrds records, and Paul Revere and the Raiders records. And Van Dyke was a great, esoteric…and still is
More Heroes and Villains ‘sections’ play:
Van Dyke Parks: (presumably from 1976) Hi. Did I ever work for The Beach Boys? Yes.
For an Easterner, working for The Beach Boys was a real Californian experience.
Brian: He and I hit it off, we wrote real fast, we wrote a lot of quick songs real fast.
Heroes and Villains ‘flutter trumpet’:
Mike: Now why do you want to talk to ME about that? I like Van Dyke Parks
(as an insert) – he’s a NICE PERSON –
but, I asked him once, ‘Van Dyke, what does that lyric mean?’ and he says ‘I don’t know! I haven’t a clue!’
And I said ‘Exactly!’
Van Dyke Parks: (from 76 again) I’ve been in this town so long that back in the city I’ve been taken for lost and gone and unknown for a long long time…he said ‘now THAT’s a sentence!’.
Heroes And The Villains live in the 1970s:
i’ve been in this town so long that back in the city I’ve been taken for lost and gone and unknown for a long long time
bicycle rider just see what you’ve done
done to the church of the American Indian
the heroes the heroes the heroes and the villains
Elvis Costello: There’s that demo version that they released of Brian Wilson singing Surf’s Up on the piano, I think it was a Leonard Bernstein special – and it’s like having a record of Mozart singing (the mid-section from the Beach Boys’ 1971 album version of Surfs Up plays, rather than the version Elvis describes). It’s such an amazing tune. The words are very much of the time, they sound beautiful when they’re sung – and quite of lot of that is true with the rest of the songs that come from this period, where obviously there was a stress and strain in realising the music.
Mike: I didn’t resonate well with what was going on at that time – he was writing these songs under the influence of various substances, and it didn’t make any sense to me!
Al: A point was reached where Brian just kind of, all of us just kind of heaved a big sigh, and stopped.
Brian: I threw it away, I junked it. I thought it was inappropriate music for us to make.
Brian closes his eyes in the same Fire footage that illustrates how ‘the acid completely tore my head off’ in An American Band, as i heard the word wonderful thing a childrens song fades to black.
Mike: Some of the fans like that kind of stuff from Smile, but I associate with it too directly, I’m too subjective about it. At one time, in the early- to mid-60s, Brian was very dynamic, resourceful, creative, disciplined in the studio. He was now shattered, afraid, paranoid, in his room, wouldn’t come out, couldn’t do anything.
Al: He spent more time upstairs in the bedroom.
Mike: Heroes And The Villains is a very powerful track, very dynamic. That was the last of the super-dynamism from Brian I think. That was 1967.
all I wanna do is always bring good to you
to give you all the love I can
and help you in whatever you do
Mike: I think that meditation, as opposed to drugs – and the result of promiscuous drugtaking is pretty evident in the lives of people that have done that – has given me a way to relax.
My first thought during my first meditation was, first of all that it was so simple, that anyone could do it, and second of all it was so deeply relaxing that if everybody did it, it would be an entirely different world.
ooh, when I sit and close my ey-eyes a gentle thought comes in mi-ind
my love is burnin’ brightly like moon and stars shine nightly
Mike: My trip with the Beatles in early ’68 was one of the most fascinating time periods of my life.
Old BBC news footage of the Beatles and cohorts at the Maharishi’s mediation retreat.
Mike: Paul came down with his acoustic guitar, playing flew in from miami beach etc. I said ‘wow that’s pretty cool’ and he’s ‘Yeah it’s sort of like a Beach Boys-style’ (laughs).
I said ‘well you know what you should do then is talk about all the girls around Russia in the bridge part, Moscow chicks and Ukraine girls’ and all that…
And so on.
And so on indeed. Another ‘not watched this since’ DVD acquisition, and I didn’t remember that all that hooey about Good Vibrations‘ ‘collaborative’ creation, plus the priceless ‘I jammed with McCartney’ stuff in An American Family comes from here (look, wasn’t being in a band with BRIAN FUCKING WILSON just a tad more prestigious?!?). Watching The Beach Boys’ videographic reductionism is like trying to avoid the rain of bullets in a one-sided, deeply-antagonistic progaganda campaign…I could make an analogy with ‘world politics’, but I could then lose (any) US readers, so I’ll keep this apolitical.
Mike: and then I came up with the part i’m picking up good vibrations – he had the track, but he didn’t have the i’m picking up good vibrations. And the REASON I chose to come up with that part was, firstly that it was the bassline….
Endless Harmony‘s editor flounders slightly here, in sequencing Carol Kaye (bass player on Good Vibrations, while playing the Good Vibrations bassline) prior to a clip where Mike Love claims authorship – she says (in Rob Chapman’s February 2002 Mojo article about Smile, Unfinished Symphony, text here):
the wildest thing is, when you listen to all the outtakes of this tune, while the parts would change, [Brian] kept the same bass line. I always thought he had extraordinary ears for bass lines, writing for it symphonically. I always enjoyed playing his lines.
I find Mike Love’s attitude to the function of lyrics in any Brian Wilson composition somewhat baffling, as the lyricist’s job was to (presumably) follow an extant melody line, not create a new one. And, if Mike Love’s role in the ‘creation’ of a Beach Boys song is anything like Tony Asher’s with Pet Sounds, the content of the lyrics is Brian’s; only the sequence of words belongs to the lyricist. Van Dyke Parks seems happy to accept that he was ’employed’ by Brian Wilson; has Mike Love always served a similar role? And, if so, did Brian supply the subject matter for, say, All I Wanna Do (as quoted above, and a Wilson/Love ‘collaboration’)? Who wants to ‘always bring good to you’ – Mike or Brian?
An American Family does acknowledge a ‘fictionalizing’, at least at the opening of Part Two:
but Part One is a bit more categorical:
And it is – quite a lot of Brian’s idiot utterances in the 2000 TV Movie do derive from ‘published accounts’ (one being Brian’s rather unreliable ‘autobiography’) – but I suppose that changing the context of a statement is, legally, not a distortion of the truth…I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know. I do suspect, however, that any court of law might dispute that, just because somebody says something that might seem, um, unlikely (as this movie’s protagonist seems wont to do), and this statement is then treated as ‘fact’ by a subsequent dramatic presentation, and with the above protective proviso, this does not, by extension, make it true per se…I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. I have little experience with legal niceties. But I get the impression that representatives of Beach Boys Corp. know the law very well.
There is an injustice to all of this. And I suspect that it’s based upon a bunch of petty grievances that certain parties cannot and will not let lie. And the more petty they are, the greater the injustice done. That a gentleman in his seventies could be capable of maintaining these grievances for nearly 50 years seems somewhat unbelieveable…but, as long as there are anniversaries to ‘celebrate’, and the opportunity to take part in these celebrations, this gentleman has an outlet and an audience.
2011 is The Beach Boys fiftieth year, and it must thus aggrieve certain parties ENORMOUSLY that this half-centenary will be acknowledged with the release of The Smile Sessions…maintaining this thin veneer of ‘endless harmony’ has just gotta wear you down. Surely. But maybe the Smile Sessions box and book contains a previously-unknown history that tells another story – a story that no one has yet heard…