River Song – Dennis Wilson
Forever – Dennis Wilson
For the rebel in all of us there is Dennis Wilson. You can’t really argue that Brian Wilson wasn’t 99% of the Beach Boys, but for the ornery among us who never like to agree with everybody else there is the Dennis Wilson theory. You know for the guy out there still telling people that he’s always thought Stuart Sutcliffe was the coolest and most talented Beatle.
The Dennis Wilson theory goes like this. Brian was the music of the Beach Boys. Dennis was everything else. Could he play drums? Hell, if I know. Probably, as well as Stu eventually got on the bass, which I’m pretty sure meant playing in the right key, but still having a damn good reason to turn his back to the crowd. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even heard Dennis’ drumming. Wasn’t it all Hal Blaine?
It doesn’t matter. Because, there’s little argument that Dennis was the coolest Beach Boy. He was the guy who surfed. He was the guy who got laid. He was the guy in “Two Lane Blacktop.” He was the guy who accidentally hung out with Charles Manson. He was the guy that for better or worse banged Mike Love’s daughter.
Anyway, hearing River Song for the first time totally blew me away. I don’t know if he was singing along in 1965, but by 1977, wow. No one has heard this song and I’m stuck hearing the Eagles everywhere I go. It’s just not right. This stands up well next to God Only Knows as its spooky step-sister with nothing to apologize for and nearly all of those harmonies are overdubbed Dennis. This may be one of his only homers, but he hit this thing way, way, way out of the park. He survived his brush with Manson; I wish he could’ve gotten past the Cocaine. If Chris Rock were white he’d be yelling out, “How the hell gonna Beach Boy drown? That just ain’t right.”
Forever is simpler, but probably just as amazing. The prettiest song in The Beach Boy catalog, and if I ever get married they’ll be playing this and Buddy Holly’s True Love Ways.
Feel free to send me your – Al Jardine was the key to the Beach Boys theories.