Thursday, September 11, 2014

David Anderle, Paul Williams and Smile (an appreciation)

When I met Paul Williams (rock journalist, mastermind of Crawdaddy Magazine, man who was later to become my husband) at a Bob Dylan concert at the Pantages in Los Angeles, I said to him "funny meeting you right now, since I was just reading something of yours for the first time".  
"Was it Das Energi?" Paul asked. 
"No, it was the conversations you had with David Anderle about Brian Wilson's Smile album." 
Paul looked surprised and then we began talking about that conversation he'd had with Anderle back in 1967, when he was 18 and writing for his "startup" Crawdaddy Magazine. David Anderle was at that time, famously a best-friend, proponent, and music business advisor to Brian Wilson during the Smile recording sessions.

David Anderle and his haunting painting of his friend Brian Wilson.
David passed away last week

Excerpt of 1967 conversation taken from Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys/How Deep Is The Ocean:
Paul: Let's try to trace the history of Smile, from Dumb Angel, or even earlier; in fact why don't we start with the origins of Pet Sounds....
David: Fine. Okay. The origins of Pet Sounds...At one point I came into the Beach Boys' lives, or into Brian's life, right around the Beach Boys Today. 
Paul: March '65
David: Right, I came in through a relative of mine who was a friend of a few of the Beach Boys and then I was out again... And then I was brought up to Brian's house one night, a long time ago, and we just hung out for a while, and it was very groovy. I really liked Brian right away, I liked him because there was something there, that I had not seen in many people in my lifetime. And I was out again....
.....When I really got in with Brian was right around the time of the fourth, final "Good Vibrations". I heard it, and it knocked me out, and I said, uh oh, there's something happening here that is unbelievable. And then the next time I came up it was different..... And then I came up one evening, and Brian informed me that he had decided to totally scrap "Good Vibrations. " He was not going to put it out. The track was going to be sold to Warner Brothers to be put out as an r&b song, sung by a colored group. Brian has always had a feeling for r&b. So I went home talked to Danny and Danny (co owners of Brother Records, later members of the band America) said, well, let's work out a deal let's see if I can't record the song and have Brian produce it and finish it and the whole thing. I called Brian back the next day and I proposed, made a proposal to him, which I don't personally think caused him to decide to finish, but maybe gave him a different perspective. Anyway, he went ahead and he finished it.

*     *     * 

Who would have thought, so many years later, in 1997, I, CLB, would be sitting in an office at A+M Records with both Paul Williams and David Anderle and like a fly on the wall, listening to them, lo, these 30 years later, talking again about Smile. (And at a time before Brian Wilson's remaking of the Smile album in 2004.) That conversation ended up in a chapter entitled Smile Is Done, from Paul's book How Deep Is The Ocean. 

Cindy: I have various (Smile)bootleg tapes, and um, each one has a slightly different order to it. I just like that, I like the fact that it's so, you know, it's all mixed up...and you just get into the sound of the music...But you have all these little pieces and they add up to like these great orchestral moments you know?
David: It's like a kaleidoscope. Jonathan (David's son) had a bunch of those same things, those little pieces (of Smile music) here and there and he would play them and I would sometimes go in and hang out with him and try to tell him little stories about it, if I remembered the night this ws cut and whatever. And I, it was great to hear them that way, 'cause that's the way we heard them with Brian. 
Cindy: Yeah. That's the way, maybe, they're supposed to be. 
David: Brian was continu-you know, he was continually shuffling... 
....And that's where it all ended for all of us, that's where it ended, it ended with that kind of moving around of music. And I think that moving around of music is the album, and I think it's the only album ever made that way. 
Paul: Yeah. 
David: And it's over. It's done. Brian is free. Brian can go out now and do something else. 
Paul: Absolutely!

David:  Well, it's your fault anyway, Paul, if you wouldn't have written those interviews, none of this would have happened. I could have had a much quieter life, believe me! I'd have no Steven Gaines (Beach Boys biographer) in my life for months...
Paul: Oh God Right....I think that because Brian is so sensitive, because he does feel so much, that just even intuitively to feel that kind of responsibility, you know, for touching so many people...My own personal belief is, the ways we deal with our power shape our lives. And when we're talking about Bob Dylan or Brian Wilson, we are talking about people whom I regard as having great power. A fact of life is that that power in us actually scares us. That's natural. And we have to come to terms with that somehow.