This month, the harrowing story of the deeply troubled life and wildly creative musical mind of Brian Wilson comes to the silver screen, in Love & Mercy. An ambitious undertaking, the film is directed by Bill Pohlad who tidily splits the entire narrative arc into two distinct epochs: the musically fertile period in the 60s that produced Pet Sounds (with Wilson played by Paul Dano) and the fraught psychosis of the 80s-era rebound (with John Cusack as Wilson).
It's a fascinating glimpse into a well-documented life, and the troubled man who gave rise to among the most memorable and celebrated rock and roll of the past 50 years. So musically speaking, what is Brian Wilson most proud of?
The leader of the Boys has cited the opening bars of "California Girls" as his proudest achievement: "['California Girls'] is something I’m very proud of in a sense because it represents the Beach Boys' really greatest record production we’ve ever made."
Released the summer of 1965, the track's intro is stately, almost lethargic, as it blends muted horns and keyboards before slipping into perky-pop song mode. It was also reportedly conceived during among Wilson's first acid trips.
The sheer emotional impact of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sparked my fascination. His squealing guitar effects depicting the incoming descent of bombs that were soon “bursting in air,” grabbed me, especially as intensified on film when Hendrix “lip synched” the resulting cries and screams. His performance makes the abstract so very human. For me Hendrix’s Woodstock anthem of August 18, 1969, remains atop the list of the most powerful performances of Francis Scott Key’s song ever created.
The Woodstock anthem gets even more interesting when compared with the other 40 or so surviving recordings of Hendrix performing the song. They reveal Hendrix’s artistic as well as political evolution and define the critical and patriotic extremes of his expression to place Woodstock firmly in the middle as a combination of both. Here's a look at five incredible Hendrix versions of "The Star Spangled Banner.' Want more Hendrix? Catch Mark Clague going deep on all-things Hendrix at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on Wednesday, March 25, 2015!
Hendrix first references the anthem melody a year ...
Fifty years ago, in 1964, a group of musicians – Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark – came together in Los Angeles, California, calling themselves the Beefeaters. By December of 1964, the Beefeaters had recruited Chris Hillman on bass guitar and Michael Clarke on drums, and changed their name to the Byrds. Far more than a name change, the group charted a new course in rock and roll history, pioneering the folk rock sounds that would become so emblematic of an era and influential generations later.
Folk rock didn't necessarily begin with the Byrds' "Mr Tambourine Man" – four months before they recorded it, the Animals were topping the pop charts with "The House of the Rising Sun" – but its combination of song and performance epitomized the genre, with the happy effect of giving Bob Dylan (as songwriter, at least) a Number One hit. The only Byrd playing on it, though, was electric 12-string guitarist McGuinn. Producer Terry Melcher, doubtful of the new band's abilities, hired session musicians to back up the vocals of McGuinn, Crosby and Clark. Perhaps Melcher had heard the group's originally private 1964 recording of the tune, which sounds like an arrangement for a music ...