The following interview was originally published on the occasion of the release of Wilson's solo album Pacific Ocean Blue in David Leaf's Pet Sounds, Volume 1, Number 3, September 1977.|
David Leaf may be best known by Beach Boys fans for his exhaustive book "The Beach Boys and the California Myth". While it is currently out of print, there is a strong possibility that it may be reissued in 2001. Watch this website and the official Brian Wilson website BrianWilson.com for news.
Dennis Wilson is autographing posters for what seems like every radio station in the United States. One after another, his personal assistant calls out the names.....WABX, WINZ, KOME, KSJO, and on and on. Finally, his promotional chores finished, Dennis is ready to talk. Lounging against the wall of Brother Studios' back music room, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee, it's the first time Dennis has rested all day. However, the leisure moment is brief and he quickly launches into a discussion of the individual tracks on Pacific Ocean Blue.
"The River Song" A few years ago, I was in the High Sierras walking by this river that was very small and it kept getting bigger and bigger....that's the guitar sound on the track. And then thinking, Los Angeles vs. the High Sierras, it just makes me sick to think of what's happening here. That's the lyrical idea; Carl assisted on some of the lyrics. Musically, it came from the river.
The voices on the beginning of the song sound like the whole family. Are they there?
Ninety per cent of those voices are mine.
"What's Wrong?" That was spontaneous; I love that old feel that Brian used to play. I was having an argument with a girl I was living with, and I used to say, "What's wrong with me making my music? What's wrong with me not being here all the time? What's wrong with being a little crazy once in awhile? You spend my money. I think it's funny to watch you do that."
"Who Made My Moonshine?" Well, you know who made my moon shine. It's a song about Karen.
"Friday Night" That's another spontaneous song. It's a memory of when I was young and Friday night came. The white punks were out having fun. I am the white punk! "Dreamer" is about Christ. Musically, I played the bass harmonica on that; I played practically everything on it.
"Thoughts Of Karen" "Thoughts Of You" It was a time when Karen left me, and I thought it was completely over, and I accept that sometimes things are over.
"Time" That's about coming home after a tour and floating into L.A. on a 747. I just heard it; I heard the music coming out. Thinking about her....just a spontaneous thing.
"You And I" is about Karen and myself, that's it.
You wrote those last two with her. Is it painful now to have to live with them being on the album?
And with her gone? Yes...[long pause]...that's the way it goes. Not painful. I don't regret knowing her or loving her at all. I'm honored to have known her and lived with her. To me, this album is lightweight, has no substance. The next album is a hundred times what Pacific Ocean Blue is. It kicks. It's different in a way. I think I have more confidence now that I've completed one project, and I'm moving on to another......
"Pacific Ocean Blues" Mike Love wrote the lyrics for that one.
"Farewell My Friend" My best friend died in my arms, and I came to the studio. I knew that he loved the Hawaiian Islands; the song just happened, sort of a happy farewell. It's written for Otto Hinsche, Carl's father-in-law. I carry a pictureof him everywhere. When my father died, Pops (Mr. Hinsche) saved my life in a way.
"Rainbows" is about being happy and being alive.
"The End Of The Show" strikes me as being a farewell of sorts.
It is. It's two things. I know that the world is coming to a place now where mankind is going to give up war....the old is dying. At the same time, it was when I knew that Karen and I were finished.
I get the feeling that there's a lot of pessimism in the music. Do you see any hope for the world?
Absolutely! I think there are a lot of sick people that need a lot of help...people who have to be educated, have to grow. I feel through art.....it can be a great deal of help, like Brian in the sixties with what he did and what he can do. I wish he would get off his ass and do it again.
Not influence, inspiration. There's a difference. I think musically I'm far apart from Brian. He's a hundred times what I am musically. Our music is different. I think he has been a profound influence in my life. If I was to say that I had a master, Brian would be the man I'd say has guided and helped me through everything.
They're one. I am a Beach Boy. I am Dennis Wilson. I own the studio; the Beach Boys record here. When they're not recording, I record. When they record, I record with them.
On the last album, it seems that some of the guys weren't there very much.
You're right. Michael and Alan haven't been participating as much as they should have been. But that will change very soon.
Gregg Jakobson stood by my side and supported me and assisted lyrically. James William Guercio supports me 100%. he stands behind me completely.
Are you at all insecure with the role of artist and leader?
No. I take full responsibility. I want to be....I want to meet with everyone in the field, want it to be different. It think music belongs on a personal level, instead of the mindless corporation ordering the artist "do this, do that, do this." People have to meet, discover, grow, build.
Does it bother you at all to be so honest in your lyrics?
Why? There's no escape from being honest. On the inside, we're always honest. On the outside, we can bullshit. Inside, there's no escape, and I just....(those lyrics), that's how I felt.
It's almost unheard of to be recording your second album before the first on is even released.
They (the record company) call it one, two, three. I just don't stop recording. You're talking to, if there ever was, a freak or somebody completely into it, I am home here at the studio or playing music on the road. When I go to the shack that I stay at, I hate it. Music is everything. The stage, recording music, signing autographs, worrying about the airplay, worrying about talking to you, everything.