At one point in the new documentary film “Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Making of ‘Smile,’ ” Wilson discusses how the other Beach Boys, especially singer Mike Love, reacted to the new directions he and lyricist Van Dyke Parks were attempting in “Smile,” the ambitious album that Wilson scrapped.
“Mike did not like ‘Smile’ at all,” Wilson says. “He hated it. He hated it.”
In particular, Love objected to the impressionistic lyrics Parks had come up with for Wilson’s sophisticated melodic and harmonic experiments on the album and famously grilled Parks for the meaning of one phrase in the song “Surf’s Up” that had the group members singing “columnated ruins domino.”
“It sure is tedious to have to explain lyrics to people,” Parks says in the film.
So what does Mike Love think about the completion of “Smile” four decades later?
“I guess it’s a good thing for Brian to do,” he said recently. “A friend sent me a copy, but I haven’t had time to hear it yet because we’ve been on tour.”
Love, who sings with the latest incarnation of the Beach Boys, is measured in his comments about “Smile” but loosens up a bit when addressing differences he had with Wilson and Parks.
“I did ask them what some of the lyrics meant -- I own up to that part,” Love says. “My philosophy of lyrics was always that your audience should be able to relate to them. Some people like to get very artistic and feel no compulsion to write something the fans can identify with, which I guess is fine for them.”
As for the scrapping of “Smile,” Love says, “a lot of people have blamed me for that over the years. But that was Brian’s decision, and no one else’s.”
-- Randy Lewis