June 23, 2017

Thank You, Brian Wilson. {Poem}

As a boy, you were my first 45 rpm. 


I remember the Capitol label

Spinning on the RCA turntable

Round and round.


Your music still reminds me of that boy

Who sang your songs in front of a mirror.

“I Get Around” on the A side,

“Don’t Worry Baby” on the B side.


You made me dream of California.

You made me want to hitchhike there,

A paradise of freedom and change,

The sun, palms trees, and beautiful women.


Following your lead, I drove cross country,

Drove down the Pacific coastline,

Hearing your songs

On the oldies station of my radio.


At a recent concert in Santa Barbara

Where I’m a resident now,

I watched you play at your white piano

For what was billed as the final tour.


You and your beach buddies

Sang like sweet, golden surfers

Hoisting the Sloop John B sails,

Riding the maverick waves.


You made it sound so simple,

The lyrics were so clear,

Perfect harmony, rocking soul,

You had the answer: God only knows…


A mystical kaleidoscope in your head

Of rhythm, notes, and chords—

Wouldn’t it be nice if you sang forever?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to go…


I got chills from those high-pitched voices,

Good vibrations traveled down my spine,

Your songs, like a jukebox of memories

Spun around my head like that old 45.


You sang about California girls,

Stuttered about Bah-Bah Barbara Ann,

You needed help from Rhonda,

And slow danced with the surfer girl.


It was all worth it, Brian—

Hearing you live, despite those trying times.

Drums and symbols crashing in the night,

Pet Sounds will forever be in my mind.



**Author’s note: The Beach Boys influenced me like no other music that I heard growing up in the 60s. Their music conjured up images of California as a place of happiness, freedom, and warmth—while I seemed lost in Philadelphia’s gloomy winters and sauna-like summers. When I finally moved to California, there were two things that I wanted to do: get a car with a sunroof and see a Beach Boys concert. 

Last May, I had the privilege to see Brian Wilson’s last tour. Brian, along with Al Jardine and company, played at the Santa Barbara Bowl right around the corner from me. As they played their early songs like “I Get Around” and “Don’t Worry Baby,” it reminded me of the little boy who listened to the Beach Boys on his ancient RCA phonograph with a 45-rpm record that sometimes skipped when he danced around the room. 



Author: Mark Tulin
Images: Flickr/Piano Piano!Flickr/Takahiro Kyono 
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Cat Monkman

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Mark Tulin