The two most qualified musicians to claim the title The best pop songwriter of the second half of the 20th century They were born separated by two days and an ocean. The oldest, James Paul McCartney, was born on 18 June 1942 in Liverpool. Brian Douglas Wilson, the youngest, opened his eyes on June 20, 1942, in Inglewood, California. It would take 24 years for the duo to meet face-to-face for the first time, but when that happened their destinies were already closely linked: After all, the ambition and creativity the Beatles displayed on their ‘Rubber Soul’ LP inspired Wilson to write and produce songs for the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’ album. ‘God Only Knows’ remains McCartney’s favorite piece of music to this day.
Arthur Conan Doyle said that talent instantly recognizes genius. By the mid-1960s, the Beatles and Beach Boys had known each other as rivals. race to push the boundaries of pop musicparticularly in aspects relating to the composition and use of the work. A dazzling debutant, Brian Wilson, after witnessing the Beatles’ thunderous eruption with ‘I want to hold your hand’ in the United States, convinced the rest of the Beach Boys that they needed to go further than songs about beaches. , girls and cars and sophisticated records (‘I’m hanging around’ was the first fruit of this new impulse).
‘Girl don’t tell me’
In July 1965, the Beach Boys went a step further by adding the song ‘Summer Day (and Summer Nights!!)’ to their LP. ‘Girl don’t tell me’where they openly demonstrated the influence of the Beatles by launching An obvious nod to the ‘ticket to drive’He had emerged as a ‘bachelor’ in April. Originally, Brian Wilson wanted to send ‘Girl don’t tell me’ to the Liverpool quartet before recording with his own band, but eventually gave up for fear of humiliation.
By this time, the Beatles had already begun to pay attention to what the Californians were doing, what was on the album. ‘Beach Boys’ party!’, an interesting collection of unrelated tributes to their favorite songs, released in October of the same year, contained three Fab Four titles (“You should hide your love”, “I should have known better” and “Tell me”. Why’). At the same time, the Beatles ‘Rubber Spirit’an album featuring vocal harmoniesdetermining factors in the evolution of the nascent ‘sunshine pop’ scene, Clearly reveals the Beach Boys trail.
From ‘Rubber Soul’ to ‘Pet Sounds’
The emergence of ‘Rubber Soul’ in December 1965 was a new revelation for Wilson, who described it as ‘I am Brian Wilson and not you’ in his 2016 autobiography. “Probably the best album in history”. “He sent me straight to the piano stool,” he wrote. After obsessively listening to the new Beatles LP (the US version, which released four songs from the UK edition), the Beach Boys frontman had one goal in mind: to rise to the top and make “the best album anyone has ever seen”. I would never have recorded it.” The result of this effort was ‘Pet Sounds.’ (Side note: The relationship between the two LPs was definitively sealed in 1998 when the fantastic power pop band from Baltimore Splitsville… released an album called ‘Pet Soul’).
‘Pet Sounds’ instantly captivated Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin with its brilliant combination of bright colors and extraordinary sounds. “When I heard it, I said, ‘Oh my God, this is the greatest LP of all time.’ What are we going to do now?’ Macca told it years later I put it on John [Lennon] a lot of time, it was impossible to escape. It was the album of that time,” he said. Both McCartney and Martin insist on ‘Pet Sounds’ totemic ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonley Hearts Club Group’but his stamp can already be seen in earlier recordings such as Paul’s ballad. ‘here there and everywhere’From the album ‘Revolver’.
Twenty days after this latest album hit stores in the United States, Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson Faces seen for the first time. He was at a party in Los Angeles on August 28, 1966, at the home of former Beatles broadcaster Derek Taylor, who had just moved to California at the time and started working for the Beach Boys. George Harrison was also there. Wilson asked the two ‘beatles’ if they would like to hear their next ‘single’, An overwhelming pocket symphony entitled ‘Good vibes’. Paul was dazzled by the complexity of the production, but couldn’t help feeling that the song lacked the emotional depth of ‘Pet Sounds’.
“You must hurry up”
When the second meeting between the two musicians took place on April 10, 1967, it was McCartney who had things to teach. ‘Sgt. Pepper, no less. All the confidence Brian had displayed just eight months ago had been shattered during the war. Chaotic recording sessions for ‘SMiLE’ albumAn overly ambitious conceptual project that tests the fragile psychological balance of the ‘beach boy’. Macca’s appearance in the studio did not help matters. After offering to eat some celery and carrots in front of the microphone to put the background sound in the song ‘Vega-Tables’, Paul sat down at the piano and played. ‘Leaving the house’. Not content with that, he stole the homeowner an acetate copy of the final mix. ‘A day in the life’ and finally he blurted out: “You have to hurry for ‘SmiLE’. We are ready now,” he said.
Very soon, Wilson decided to cancel the sessions of the ‘SMiLE’ project, which was beginning to occupy a privileged place in the rock universe. pantheon of legendary unfinished records. In a corner of the tortured mind of the Californian musician, The race between the Beatles and the Beach Boys is over and the winner is. It wasn’t him. Deeper in the swamp of mental health issues and addictions, Brian barely noticed McCartney’s electrifying tribute to the beach boys. ‘Back to USSR’A song from the Beatles’ 1968 double white album.
Despite the difficulties, Paul always tried to keep in touch with his American ‘rival’, even at the worst of times when he was psychologically helpless. In 2000, when Brian was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, McCartney was selected to deliver the keynote address. Two years later, at a charity gala at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles, both shared the stage to sing ‘God knows’ as a duet for the first time. The song that put Brian Wilson in touch with God in 1966. Paul McCartney’s favorite song.