I will be presenting a paper at the Fall meeting of the Pacific-Southwest chapter of the American Musicological Society (how is that for a mouthful?). The meeting will be at UC Irvine on October 11. So, if you have nothing better to do (and I certainly hope that you do), you can come hear me rattle on about Brian Wilson.
Here is an abstract:
“Tell Us the Name of Your Favorite Vega-Table: Chasing Brian Wilson’s ‘Vegetables’ from SMiLE to Wild Honey”
For almost exactly one year between 1966 and sixty-seven, Brian Wilson was entrenched in the ill-fated SMiLE project. During this time he recorded countless hours of material, much of it no more than a few phrases long. His hope was to find uses for these fragments inside pre-existing songs, or even to expand them into new songs. But, by May, 1967, SMiLE was abandoned. Among the songs Wilson composed during the SMiLE sessions, was a peculiar song, titled “Vegetables” (sometimes “Vega-Tables”). After SMiLE’s collapse, “Vegetables” was the first song Wilson revisited. The Beach Boys’ next album, Smiley Smile, included a version of “Vegetables” that was drastically different than any versions recorded during the SMiLE sessions. Additionally, an entire section of the song was missing. Three months later, this section was released as “Mama Says” on the next album, Wild Honey. Given its place at the end of SMiLE and the beginning of Smiley Smile, “Vegetables” provides a unique view into the sea change that engulfed Wilson during SMiLE’s final months, and the weeks directly thereafter. Essentially, “Vegetables” is the threshold between Wilson’s two personas: Brian Wilson the composer/orchestrator/arranger/producer of lush, intricate “pocket symphonies,” to Brian Wilson, the sixth member fo the Beach Boys. Using extant SMiLE session recordings and those from Smiley Smile, this paper will trace “Vegetables”’ development from its first appearance in October, 1966, through its inclusion in Wild Honey. In doing so, this paper will show that “Vegetables” is one of Wilson’s most important SMiLE-era compositions. Certainly “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains” are evidence of Wilson’s compositional gifts in sixty-six and sixty-seven, but “Vegetables” shows how much Wilson relied upon his recording-studio wizardry, and how spare his compositions often when stripped of his ability to tinker with them in the studio.
So, there's that ... if you're into that.