Brian Wilson Resurrects Ambitious Album 'Smile'

Recording Session Photos

Hear More

Listen to Bob Boilen discuss "Heroes And Villains" from Smile, as well as other top music picks for 2004 on All Songs Considered.

Thirty-eight years ago, Brian Wilson wanted to make an album like no other with what was, at the time, a revolutionary recording technique. Bits and pieces were recorded at different times with different musicians, in different studios, then quilted together. Wilson combined this elaborate "modular music" with the evocative lyrics of Van Dyke Parks and described the project as "a teenage symphony to God."

Wilson (300)

hide captionWilson with engineer Mark Linett at Hollywood's Sunset Sound during the recording sessions of 'Smile' in April 2004.

Bob Boilen, NPR

The album, called Smile, was nearly completed, but never released. Fellow Beach Boys found the music too strange to be commercially successful. As his own drug addictions and personal problems began to spiral out of control, Wilson abandoned the project.

Almost four decades later, Wilson re-teamed with Parks to complete the album, which has surfaced throughout the years in fragments, only to further the mystique of an unfinished masterpiece. Recording began in April 2004 at Sunset Studios in Hollywood and NPR's Bob Boilen sat in on some of the sessions. Smile, the album that Wilson made to prove that rock music could be art, will be released on Tuesday.

Purchase Featured Music

SMiLE

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: SMiLE
  • Artist: Brian Wilson
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Released: 2007
 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.