Brian Wilson (song)

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"Brian Wilson"
Single by Barenaked Ladies
from the album Gordon
Released 1992
Format CD; 7" (US)
Recorded 1992
Length 4:48
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Steven Page
Producer(s) Barenaked Ladies,
Michael Phillip Wojewoda
Barenaked Ladies singles chronology
"What a Good Boy"
(1992)
"Brian Wilson"
(1992)
"If I Had $1000000"
(1992)
Music video
"Brian Wilson" on YouTube

"Brian Wilson" is a song written by Steven Page for Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies as a tribute to the Beach Boys' co-founder Brian Wilson. It was released as a single from the band's debut studio album, Gordon (1992), peaking at number 18 on the Canadian Singles Chart and number 68 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2000, Wilson responded with a cover version that was released on his live album Live at the Roxy Theatre.

Background and lyricism[edit]

The song's subject, Brian Wilson, in 2008

The song was written by singer/guitarist Steven Page in his parents’ basement on his twentieth birthday, in 1990. The first lines of the song chronicle one of his many late-night journeys to the Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street. The song generally tells the story of a man whose life parallels that of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, particularly during his time spent with psychologist Eugene Landy after Wilson was diagnosed with mental illness, and, more broadly, with lyrics about suffering from comorbid mental illness and obesity.[citation needed]

Variations[edit]

Steven Page stated in the liner notes for Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits that the song has more "official" recordings than any other song in their repertoire, saying that there are at least five. The song was first recorded for the never-released 1990 BNL cassette, Barenaked Recess. After Tyler Stewart joined the band in 1991 as a drummer, it was re-recorded for the band’s platinum-selling Yellow Tape, in 1992 for Gordon, in 1996 for the live album Rock Spectacle, and again in 1997 for a version which was called "Brian Wilson 2000" and was released as a single.[citation needed]

Brian Wilson 2000[edit]

"Brian Wilson 2000"
Single by Barenaked Ladies
from the album Rock Spectacle
Released October 28, 1997
Format CD; 7" (US)
Recorded 1997
Length 3:57
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Steven Page
Producer(s) Barenaked Ladies,
Michael Phillip Wojewoda
Barenaked Ladies singles chronology
"The Old Apartment"
(1997)
"Brian Wilson 2000"
(1997)
"One Week"
(1998)

"Brian Wilson 2000" is a shortened form of the song for radio play, recorded to sound more like their live performance than the original Gordon version did. The band's management worried that radio stations would not play the live version that had recently gained popularity. The most noticeable differences are that "2000" replaces the first verse with an 8-bar instrumental intro, and the outro is considerably shortened as well. However, most radio stations decided to play the live version instead, which explains why the live version was included on Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits.

Brian Wilson version[edit]

Wilson rearranged and sang this song a cappella with his new band at live concerts, one of which was recorded for a live album in 2000. Wilson visited Barenaked Ladies while they were recording Maroon (album producer Don Was was an associate of Brian Wilson) to play the track for the band, whereupon they played him some of their works-in-progress, and then he played them his version of "Brian Wilson". At the end, he turned to them and asked, "Is it cool?" Upon his departure, his advice to the band was "don't eat too much." The band described the entire experience as surreal.[1]

In honour of his covering their song, in recent performances the band has started singing the first chorus a cappella, eliminating all instrumentation, and then continuing the rest of the song with the usual arrangement.[citation needed]

Chart positions[edit]

Barenaked Ladies single

Chart (1992) Peak
position
Canadian Singles Chart 18
Chart (1997) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 68
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 23
UK Singles Chart 73

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robertson, Ed & Frohman, Lorne (Interviewer/Host) (2005). Distinguished Artists (TV-series). Toronto, Canada: Humber College School of Media Studies. 

External links[edit]