Having finished reading Brian Wilson’s new autobiography, there is little doubt that SMiLE was pivotal to Brian’s life- the book opens with the first performance of the album in 2004. Brian’s breakdown in 1964 and Pet Sounds were also very important -indeed matching the greatness of Pet Sounds was surely one of the reasons SMiLE was such as challenge to complete - but the collapse and redemption of SMiLE mirrors Brian’s own retreat and recovery.
The book also talks about the connection between SMiLE and America – Brian notes that the album is about the whole world, but particularly about America. The first movement in particular covers the breadth of the country, from Hawaii to Plymouth Rock, the growth of the country, the heroes and villains and great American music. It shows the possibilities and greatness of the country, the ability to assimilate many things and come out even greater. In this respect, as we celebrate 50 years since SMiLE was originally scheduled to be released, maybe America needs a SMiLE even more than ever.