Saturday, November 06, 2004

Smile, at last

Okay so I know I promised this post like a month ago, but these last few weeks have been hell. First I got really sick, then we had to train on new equipment (okay that was really fun), then we had a plane crash, followed by my morning director getting pneumonia and I was working at 4am to cover, then I got really sick again, then we had elections, now I'm trying to hire 3 or 4 people. Right now I feel pretty good. I've gotten over my sickness for the most part and I've stopped crying since election day and Gridiron Lights is finally over. I feel like this is the first time I've been able to breathe in weeks, so I may as well post something.

I've had almost a month to let Brian Wilson's "SMiLE" sink in and it still feels great. I don't think I can word it any better than I did in this email to my buddy Jonathan about a month ago, so I may as well just post it. We had been going through an argument over what was the best Wilco album. I'll just post the whole thing....

"So far the baseball playoffs have been great. The Cards look unstoppable right now. They've shown that they can win is many different ways. Game one was all starting pitching and homeruns. Game two was all relief pitching and small ball. That's the definition of a complete team. As much as I hate the Braves, I'm rooting for them against the Astros. I think the Cards can take care of the Braves, but the Astros really scare me right now. In the AL, I don't care who wins as long as it's not the Yanks. I like the BoSox, the Twins, and the Angels so who cares who comes out.

I saw the highlights of the last Mets game. It was great seeing Franco for probably the last time. It was really cool to see Todd Zeile hit a homer and play catcher in his last game. I've always liked that guy and always regretted him leaving the Cards. I remember being at a Cards game and seeing him hit a game-winning HR in the 12th against the Pirates. I think that was his last season in St. Louis.

About Being There......I don't think it's the best Wilco, but mostly because I can't choose a best. I love YHF for all its complexities and I love Being There for its simplicity. Wilco definitely did not peak with Being There. If they were still making music like their older stuff, I'd be pissed that they hadn't expanded their writing and composing. I love bands that can adapt. The Flaming Lips are a prime example of that. Their last three albums have been completely different from their older stuff. It just shows how great they are as musicians.

On the flipside, I enjoy bands that don't need to experiment. Cake just released their new album Tuesday. Cake is just a reliable band. None of their songs sound exactly alike, but all their albums have the same sound. I don't understand how they can keep the same sound for a decade and make it sound so fresh with every release. I think it's just because they have a sound, but nobody has anything similar to it. It's like a cross between pop, rock, country, and hip-hop. They are so unique that they don't need to adapt. Wilco needs to change because they have been so influental, that there are a million Wilco ripoffs out there. Wilco cannot start sounding like Wilco. REM is another example. They've alienated a ton of fans over the last decade because the fans just want them to sound like Automatic for the People. I like the fact that they've changed so dramatically since Automatic that it really challenges the listener. I enjoy music that challenges me. What would music be like now if the Beatles didn't release Rubber Soul?......

....Speaking of. The musical event of a lifetime happened last week. Brian Wilson finally released Smile 37 years after it's original release date. It was supposed to be the follow up to Pet Sounds, but it wasn't ever released because Brian went nuts and the rest of the Beach Boys went corporate. He finally went back in the studio this year and re-recorded it. I consider Pet Sounds to be the greatest album ever made, and always have since I first got it in high school. Most people would say Sgt. Pepper, but the Beatles wrote Sgt. Pepper in response to Pet Sounds. Pet Sounds may be the most complex modern music ever recorded, but it's so perfect that it doesn't alienate the listener. Smile was supposed to be even better than Pet Sounds so maybe that means Smile is now the greatest album ever.....

I didn't get Smile last week when it came out because it was right before payday. Tuesday when I got paid I rushed out to get it, but it was sold out. I even did the unthinkable and looked for it at Wal-Mart, but it was sold out there too. Unreal. Well today Hastings got more in and I finally got it and listened to it about an hour ago. This album is one of the most complicated thing I've ever heard. Brian Wilson's voice has changed quite a bit since 1966, but the way he produced all the harmonies around it makes it feel like he was almost 40 years ago. There are so many sounds going on every song that it's pretty disorienting at times, but that's a good thing. It was pretty hard to grasp throughout but it finally made sense on the next to last song "In Blue Hawaii" which carries right on to "Good Vibrations." This is a comlicated album, but it's not supposed to complicate the listener. It's just fun....period. Sure it's the most roundabout way of finding fun I've ever heard, but that makes it that much more satisfying. It's very bizarre, it's very unique, it's very difficult at times, but it is just unreal. I honestly feel that if this was released in 1967 like it was supposed to be, we'd be talking about the Beach Boys right now and not the Beatles. Most people just think of the Beach Boys as a surf/car band, but nobody thinks of the Beatles as just a boy band. That's because the Beatles were so much more than just a boy band. Anybody that dismisses the Beach Boys as just a pop band doesn't know the whole truth. Smile is, without a doubt, the most anticipated release is modern music history. It doesn't disappoint."