The Davenport & Company Lecture
This is the story of the Beach Boys in the context of American history and the two sets of ideals, faith and money, that have defined our society since the Pilgrims sailed the ocean blue. In both music and the five Beach Boys, brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their first cousin Mike Love and neighbor Al Jardine, presented a dreamy vision of California as Eden: a place filled with, sun, surf and beautiful girls. The group turned towards art music in the mid-sixties, but Brian Wilson, the group’s resident genius, was as troubled as he was brilliant, and as his visions became more avant-garde the group turned away, choosing to become a perpetual motion nostalgia machine that continues to fill casino showrooms and state fair venues across the country. And so here we are again: Art vs commerce, faith vs finance. The fact that the legendarily lost (for nearly 40 years) Smile album, a psychedelic masterpiece Brian recorded in 1966 only to lose his way and vanish for the better part of the next thirty years, was about Manifest Destiny's impact on the nation, tells us something. In both their beauty and their ugliness the Beach Boys are truly the most truly American band that has ever existed
Speaker: Peter Ames Carlin
Peter Ames Carlin is the author of Bruce, the biography of Bruce Springsteen published in 2012 and Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, published in 2006. Carlin has also worked as a senior writer at People in New York City and a television critic/columnist for the Oregonian newspaper in Portland. His work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, American Heritage and TheAtlantic.com. He lives in Portland, Or., with his family.