This post included a transcription of an live recording of The Beach Boys’ Heroes and Villains. The spoken part, as transcribed, is performed by Mike Love, and was recorded on September 11th 1967, for an unreleased ‘live’ album. It’s all here, and can be heard on the Lei’d In Hawaii Rehearsal Vigotone (Vigo-133) bootleg CD from 1994.
The most interesting part of this CD for fans is the recording of “Heroes and Villians” which contains an overdubbed spoken dialogue by Mike Love detailing the disastrous reception the single and album had received in the public and the popular press. To listeners, it appears that he’s mocking Brian’s song, and his talents, but Mike has since claimed that this overdub was all in jest, with his peculiar sense of humor biting a bit too close to the truth
Further to this, I was told in an email that
the spoken bit about H&V in your recent post, BTW, is actually something that was scripted by Brian, as a joke at his own expense, according to various people who should know.
As this information is more recent than the beachboys.com site, it’s also presumably considered more accurate, and of reliable provenance. This narrative has developed somewhat: Brian Wilson has now become the author of this verbal attack on himself and his work. Mike Love was just the performer.
There is a ‘peculiar sense of humor biting a bit too close to the truth here‘. You really need to hear it to catch the nuance of its delivery; a transcript does not do it justice. If this is scripted, it is Mike Love’s greatest-ever vocal performance – in its seeming-spontaneity, its unrelenting snort and sneer of derision…he should have become an actor, rather than That Guy Out Of The Beach Boys.
And Brian accurately replicates Mike Love’s own bitter humour in his writing; these previously-undocumented collaborative skills could have produced comedy and drama surpassing anything Wilson/Love ever achieved with music. Mike’s tight-lipped, tight-arsed, uptight delivery of Brian’s self-penned self-debasement is utterly convincing.
Brian was known for his sense of humour; and humour was always key to Smile. But no one could have guessed exactly how highly-developed this had become by 1967: to be able to concoct such self-deprecation, and then give it to Smile‘s most vociferous critic to perform, and mere months after all of Smile was scrapped…this is impressive indeed. Brian Wilson is a bigger joker than anyone knew: rather than being heartbroken at the loss of Smile, he was instead writing skits, at the expense of his own work (and his collaborator’s words), and for The Beach Boys to record.
It is all in jest: he is ridiculing himself for his own failure, a failure to give to them a repeat of the success they deserve, for the work he has done.
I’ve just read back that last line, and, while it’s obviously a poorly-constructed sentence, it has some of the mindbending internal logic of this supposition of a script: it sort of doesn’t sense, but somehow also does. But doesn’t. My summary might be badly-written – but it’s an attempt to make sense out of something that makes no sense.
I don’t know who one could ask about this. Brian? He won’t remember. Shame. Carl? Dennis? No, they’re dead. Al? Bruce? Maybe. Mike Love? Well he would know best. He might still have the script itself; stranger Beach Boys artifacts have reappeared over the past fifty years.
Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile (2004)
DVD extra, duration 15:05:
Van Dyke Parks: Yeah. Cos…what I remember is the first thing we did was Heroes And Villains.
Brian Wilson: Oh my god
Van Dyke: A whole buncha notes…
Brian: In the key of C sharp.
Van Dyke: Would you play a little bit of it?
Brian: (immediately) 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, fell in love years ago with…
Van Dyke: All right.
Brian: That was cool. That was one of THE highlights of my life, that song.
Van Dyke: That scared the hell out of me! Just in terms of words, as I recall, we got lucky, got some wind at our back, we sat down, and we knocked that thing to the ground right away.
Brian: We nailed it, we did. And I couldn’t understand how my hands were going over the keys, TOO spontaneous, I thought maybe Van Dyke was in control – and I didn’t worry about it! I said, “I’m not worried about it.”
Van Dyke: Well, I’ve probably never been so out of control..but you know, it’s not so important to feel that I’m in control, that we’re just going along, exploring, together.
Van Dyke: What…(laughs)…somebody once asked me a question: what was your favorite part of our work, our working together?
Brian: My favourite part was when you said ‘sunnydown snuff I’m all right’, if you wanna know the truth, that was my favourite part of it.
(they clap hands together, like a ‘low-five’)
Van Dyke: Yeah. That was a good character. We got our characters in there.
Does the inherent illogic of all of this need reiterating? It does?
11th September 1967
Mike Love: (reading from Brian Wilson’s script) In every group’s recording career, there comes that moment when you realise you have a nuclear bomb on your hands. Right now Brian Wilson, leader of The Beach Boys, is about to unleash HIS nuclear power, and sing the song for you that went ALL THE WAY TO FORTY! It topped the charts at about forty, and the next week it zoomed right off to, oh well, about two hundred and fifty. Right now it’s hurtling about ten thousand on THIS YEAR’s TOP TEN THOUSAND! Come on in here and sing, wail your buns off! Listen to these OUTSTANDING LYRICS! They’ll just amaze you, this nuclear disaster! (makes explosion sounds)
22nd February 2004
Brian Wilson: (about writing Heroes and Villains) That was cool. That was one of THE highlights of my life, that song.
11th September 1967
Mike Love: (reading from Brian Wilson’s script) Ahhh, sunnydown, you old snuffy…(angrily) If I ever sing anything like that again I’m gonna (makes fart sound)
22nd February 2004
Brian Wilson: (to Van Dyke parks, from his own memory) My favourite part was when you said ‘sunnydown snuff I’m all right’, if you wanna know the truth, that was my favourite part.