These are my musings on Part I of the interview that David Anderle had given to Crawdaddy magazine. The “up arrows” indicate a related piece of evidence which appeared later in the article that reinforces a point I’d already written.
1) It’s so sweet hearing Anderle fawn over Brian in the beginning. I agree with him, about Brian being ahead of the curve, the forerunner of Rock music, and SMiLE being one of the great albums of all time. What’s significant is Anderle too specifically mentions the band not believing in Brian, fighting about the album, and Brian nervously awaiting their return, knowing they’d give him grief for what he was doing. I reiterate, I don’t believe in the old “Mike killed SMiLE!” smear campaign, but I’ve seen the pendulum shift too far the other way lately. Clearly their animosity was a factor, if an over-emphasized one, for the album’s collapse. Anderle specifically mentions Mike as the most antagonistic and how Brian would dread going into the studio. Again the “all Mike did was innocently ask about CE once” apologism just doesn’t ring true reading these old primary accounts.
^Anderle even predicts the next big thing from Brian won’t come from the Beach Boys. I think this could’ve been true had his illness not made leaving them and doing something new for himself next to impossible. It seems like Brian wanted to produce other bands like Redwood but was held back by guilt, mental illness, inertia and peer pressure.
2) Contrarily, his point about Brian getting bored and then instantly changing gears seems to give an alternate narrative why things happened as they did. Brian realized after 4, 5 months into 1967 that this thing wasn’t going anywhere, was gonna take forever to finally get off the ground and got bored of the whole thing. So he pursued another direction as Anderle seems to say he was want to do. Interestingly though, he accuses Brian of simply giving up with Wild Honey, of retreating to the basics and not progressing anymore. I have to agree personally; not a big fan of WH, I always saw it as a huge step backward after the innovation of SMiLE and Smiley Smile. But I know that’s not a popular opinion here [on the SmileySmile forum.] The interviewer offers the idea that Captiol released WH, and this must mean it doesn’t count in Brian’s eyes, which Anderle agrees with. Very fascinating.
^It’s interesting he mentions Brian’s tendency to drop people suddenly for the same reasons. I’ve seen people on the SmileySmile board mention that a lot.
3) Oh there it is AGAIN, talking about how important humor was to Brian, how he wanted to make the first pop humor LP, how he sent them to record humorous conversations. (Like Taxi Cabber) Some of the more conservative fans will argue there’s no proof Anderle is referring to Psychedelic Sounds, no proof this humor album would be SMiLE but rather a second project, etc. I have to say, I think you’d have to be grasping at straws at this point to argue against humor on this project. In spite of how unfairly ignored they’ve been all these years, all the flak and accusations of “hobby-horsing” I’ve gotten on the SmileySmile forums for sticking up for them, how I’ve recently had my arguments dismissed for not reading this article yet, it’s the very first thing Anderle brings up once the topic turns to SMiLE and its catharsis. You cannot accuse me of playing double standards with evidence when the very evidence you seem to care about so much, and look down on me for not reading, supports my argument as well.
^Anderle goes back to this point again later, reiterating that Brian was all about humor–so much so that he couldn’t work or function with someone he deemed humorless
4) He specifically seems to recreate one of these Psychedelic Sounds recordings, describing the chanting into the mic, how Brian put it to music after, and everyone agreeing it sounded great. Again, the Psychedelic Sounds seem to be rough working ideas. They almost certainly wouldn’t be on SMiLE as is, but shortened, refined, probably rerecorded with the Beach Boys or Wrecking Crew and set to music. It’s really not as crazy an idea as some people seem to believe. In any case, it’s a shame we don’t have access to this refined version of the chants with music included.
Interview Part 2:
1) Right of the bat, Anderle mentions how Brian would begin projects as a concept, an idea, and it’d be hard to understand what he meant. He’d have the guys record a “feel” and they wouldn’t even know what he wanted, like the big picture, but would just follow his lead. You can definitely see that on the PS bootleg. Anderle mentions how Pet Sounds didn’t start off as some unified concept, Brian just worked on musical feels as they came to him. “What started as the first song may become part of the sixth” which seems to lend credence to Vosse’s testimony of certain songs like CE and Worms juggling sections between themselves for awhile before settling on the structures we know today. He mentions how the lyrics came later and are worked around a big idea Brian wants to express and the titles came later–in fact, according to Anderle, the titles don’t mean anything. Hmm…wonder what that means for the significance of Vega-Tables weird spelling, and humorous or referential titles like Do You Like Worms or Mrs O’Leary’s Cow and Second Day?I have to disagree with Anderle here, as those seem like very thoughtful titles for the tracks they accompany. They may have been the last piece of the puzzle and not a priority, but they’re certainly meaningful titles with thoughtful puns in them–even if accidentally.
2) Something else that potentially calls Anderle’s reliability into question, he says Pet Sounds is when Brian gave up on touring, when as far as I know it was actually a year earlier, with Today. He also says Pet Sounds comes from the dogs at the end, when we all know Mike Love came up with the title 😉
3) When it comes to SMiLE, Anderle claims Brian described it as a monument. Part of the problem, he says, is Brian would get an idea at 4 in the morning and want to record it immediately. This wasn’t possible when you have to book studio time. This explains the desire for a home studio, even if it produced more lo-fi records.
4) He mentions Van and Brian blowing each others minds, but how he knew even then, they’d never work together. Not productively anyway. He describes their parting as tragic and asserts that they didn’t want to separate but both knew they had to. He cites the split at February ’67 and says Van was too sophisticated and Brian not enough.
Again, this is an aspect of the album’s demise which isn’t often talked about but seems to be corroborated by our primary sources.
5) He describes SMiLE as the culmination of all Brian’s intellectual pursuits at the time, including the Elements. He says they all knew what Fire would be, and water, had some idea of air, no mention of Earth. This, to me personally, casts doubt on the idea that Veggies was Earth. It would make sense that if it was, it would’ve been very easy and very probable for Brian to just say that to Anderle and everyone. Veggies was a song that had been professionally recorded, became a focus late in the sessions, was on the tracklist, and got released on Smiley Smile. So you’d think Anderle would know what it was and it’d come up in discussions of the other 3 elements. The fact that Brian didn’t specifically call it Earth, that the tapes weren’t labelled “Elements Part X” as Fire’s were and of course, that its a separate entry on the tracklist–makes me skeptical of the idea that Veggies is anything except its own individual song.
This also all but confirms then that Wind Chimes (let alone its fade) isn’t Air for the same reasons. Same with the idea of Surfs Up as Water. [This was HolyBee’s unusual theory.] How could Brian never have mentioned it, how could Anderle forget such crucial information just a few months after the sessions? In fact, I think Anderle’s testimony is further evidence against any kind of elements suite of individual songs. Anderle doesn’t give track names for Air and Water because they were just proto arrangements recorded unprofessionally and had no names at the time. Anderle, Brian and the rest knew what they would be because they recorded it, but he doesn’t give specifics because nobody else would ever know what he’s talking about to provide reference. (As opposed to Veggies and Wind Chimes being elements, where he could easily provide the titles to give readers some idea since they were both released on Smiley Smile.) I guess Earth was just never worked on, or never written, or the idea of Veggies being Earth was dropped so quickly Anderle never even heard about that original plan.
6) He lists friction on all fronts at once killing the album. He cites the issue with Fire as the first sign of real trouble. Then reiterates studio time, fights with VDP and trouble with engineers as big causes of strife. Anderle also, notably lists the ideas of Brother Records and getting into films as just excuses and procrastination. Now THIS is interesting to me, because up until then I had thought of these projects as being very genuine endeavors. Based on Vosse’s memories, I envisioned a Brian at the top of his powers trying to branch out into film and self-reliance. I’m not 100% sure who to believe, since Anderle has a few issues where his recollection comes off as not entirely reliable, and yet Vosse would be biased on this subject because he was tasked with spearheading the film division and it’d be both hard for him to realize his project as just a distraction as well as embarrassing to admit. Anyway, Anderle comes back at the end to reiterate that VDP cancelling on Brian was the main reason; Brian didn’t know how to make lyrics that would fit with what had been written. (But what even needed more lyrics at that point, except maybe CIFOTM?)
7) That being said, Anderle goes into detail about how the Beach Boys resisted Brian heavily when they came back from the tour. He doesn’t hold that against them, since he mentions there was no way to know what Brian was doing was the right thing. They were only hearing fragments out of context and no one had done music that sounded like it before. Anderle mentions how they wasted a whole week trying to get Mike to sing a song the way Brian wanted, but he couldn’t, so Brian did it instead. Anderle specifically says that had they warmed up to it in time, SMiLE would’ve been finished. So once again, anyone saying all Mike did was innocently ask about lyrics once or twice are spitting in the face of history. Brian and VDP fought too, and the collapse is much more complex than “Mike killed SMiLE” but it doesn’t change the fact that the Beach Boys themselves were still very unsupportive. Period.
^Later on in the interview, Anderle goes back to this point and reiterates that their relationship was NEVER good during SMiLE. He also states that if anything was going on in his life, Brian would NOT be functional in the studio as a result. Anderle then returns to this point a third time to say in no uncertain terms, the fact the band didn’t “get it” is a huge reason the album was never finished. It really doesn’t get any simpler than that. Except if you needed more, he goes on a whole spiel even later in the interview about how Mike fought all experimentation, how he was the one band member Brian couldn’t relate to or control, and how they both had totally different mindsets.
8) Anderle stresses how important Heroes was going to be for the original structure/vision of the album, how hard and defeating it was trying to maintain an air of positivity with a lawsuit and all other bullshit going on, and how Brian was told he needed to have a single. Anderle says it was necessary for Brother, and that this new project and the burdens of Brother killed the creative vibes. He mentions growing apart from Brian as he (Anderle) had to take on business responsibilities and wasn’t fun for Brian to talk to anymore. Anderle claims Heroes was only chosen as a single because it was the closest thing to being finished, again conflicting Vosse and conventional wisdom on the subject. I tend to take Anderle’s side on this point, however. I always felt Heroes and Villains was a strange choice for a single, since it did not and as far as we know never had a verse/chorus/verse structure.
9) Once again, Anderle calls his account into question when he not only claims CIFOTM will come out on the next album (which would be Friends by this time I believe–perhaps he’s confusing Little Bird?) but that Bicycle Rider was originally part of Vega-Tables. Hmmm….
10) He says Brian never wanted to put GV, a single, on the album. Hes referring to Smiley, but the way it’s phrased it could possibly mean SMiLE too. Once again, pretty interesting theory to ponder.
11) Admittedly, he talks about the humor album as if it were a separate thing. And says Smiley was perhaps an attempt to merge the two ideas. I admit this is a strike against my theory of Psychedelic Sounds skits on SMiLE.
^Anderle takes a negative view of things like recording water and trying to start a bar fight. He sees these as distractions as well, similar to the films idea. Personally, I would agree that an entire separate album of random humorous conversations would have been a crazy idea. I cannot see such a thing being a critical nor commercial success then or now. As overdubs or hidden tracks on SMiLE, some choice outtakes from the Taxi Cabber conversation, or Smog monologue are fun; it worked in Frank Zappa’s We’re Only In It For the Money and other albums/songs of the time. However, by themselves and presented at length, these are difficult to listen to even for me.
12) Here as well, Anderle takes a very negative view of Wild Honey. If I recall correctly, he praises it by part 3. Again, somewhat calling into question his credibility. If he does a 180 on that in a month, who’s to say his opinions, recollections and thoughts on something that happened a year ago by this time haven’t also changed dramatically?
13) He calls Marilyn a saint and the perfect artist’s wife for what she puts up with from Brian. Hardly the cow that hampered his growth at every turn which ol’ Loren Daro described on the SmileySmile forum. Personally I find Marilyn to be the single most sympathetic person in the entire Beach Boys story, so seeing her get a shout-out like this from one of Brian’s “cool” hipster friends is really nice.
14) Anderle mentions Brian talked openly about breaking up the group. He speculates that after Smiley and WH bombed that Brian probably knows deep down it was the right thing to do. This is also fascinating in hindsight, and once again shows that yes, pushback from the group was very significant at this time. Personally, I wish Brian had produced other groups. I think it would have improved his health, morale and creativity.
Anderle differs from Vosse on several points and it’s hard if not impossible to say who’s right. I tend to side with Vosse on most counts because as I said there are points where we know Anderle is objectively wrong in his recollections, and where his views get inconsistent.
My thoughts on Part 3 of the same interview.
1) Love how Anderle now points out that Brian was also first in the back to basics movement of 1968. Brian just did it *so* ahead of everyone that nobody noticed or gave him credit for it. However, I think Brian did that earlier than even Anderle gives him credit for, with Smiley and not WH. Plus, it’s another strike against his credibility when Anderle was using WH’s simplicity against Brian in the previous parts, only warming up to it now when other bands were also doing simpler albums.
2) I also find it sadly ironic how he goes on about Brian first recording Surfs Up on piano and how it blew everyone away. Gah…that should have just been the second single, dammit!
3) I disagree with this lengthy discussion on how artists SHOULDN’T innovate. Frankly, to me, the late 60s is by far the greatest period of pop music BECAUSE of all the innovation and competition going on. The production race and using the studio as an instrument, every release pushing the boundaries of what could be done…this, to me, created the best albums ever. I also disagree that SMiLE would be an extension of Pet Sounds, and that Brian must have thought it was unnecessary. I realize the reasons for its abandonment are multifaceted but I don’t believe that was part of it. I realize the transition from SMiLE to Smiley was more smooth than we had previously believed but I still believe that this collapse was indeed a collapse and crushed Brian’s spirit in many ways. Overall, it’s interesting to note Anderle’s change in perspective since the three months from the last interview. This very much casts doubt on his memory. Like, if his stance on WH and SMiLE did a near 180 here, what does that say about his memories from a year back?
^He makes a similar change of opinion on Mike, though here it makes more sense since Mike recently got into TM and perhaps Anderle saw that as Mike legitimately bettering himself.
4) It’s very bizarre and sad in hindsight how Anderle believes Brian’s dark period is over and he’s back to where he was pre-Pet Sounds again. Anderle imagines Brian must be happy…going into the studio and being as productive as before. He believes Brian will recapture the old audience and even the newcomers in the near future. It’s heartbreaking to read this section, knowing what we know now. And again, just to really drive the whole thing home in case you hadn’t heard, Anderle returns to HUMOR and how important it is for Brian to explore that.
5) At the end, he seems to confirm that the main cause of SMiLE‘s death was Brian’s need for instant gratification. Makes sense, yet not a theory you see put out by others. Interesting.
^Thats about the ONLY thing SMiLE-related in the whole piece, annoyingly.