Sunday, January 30, 2005

Meeting Brian Wilson in Tokyo

I went to the autograph session of Brian Wilson. It was a very rare chance for us Japanese.

Brian Wilson was an original member of the Beach Boys. Because of his songwriting talent, they released many hit songs in the first half of the 60s. People felt the California sunlight, girls on the beach, hot rods and surfing in their songs.

But Brian's genius wasn't to be contained in this style. His lyrics became reflective, and his melody got more and more complex. Being inspired by the Beatles' Rubber Soul, he became eager to make the album that could would be better the Beatles. Concentration was the most important thing for Brian. He shut himself off to the outside world. and composed songs for months. At last, he quit the Beach Boys' concert tours in 1966.

Brian released Pet Sounds released that same year with Brian's fully confidence. The music was innovative, complex and beautiful. The Beatles, especially Paul McCartney was shocked by the album. But people were bemused. They couldn't find the sunlight, girls and surfing in it. Even members of the Beach Boys didn't realize the true worth of Pet Sounds.

Brian was very disappointed. He began to create the next work, SMiLE. This album, was composed with some unique themes - The four elements (Fire, Air, Water and Earth), a native American girl dancing in the war among natives and whites, etc. - should have been one of the masterpieces of American music. But when making SMiLE, Brian became mentally deranged because of the pressure and a lack of understanding by the record company, fans and the other member of the Beach Boys. Thereafter, he was in a state of a suspended animation for many years.

After struggling, he was back. SMiLE was released after an interval of 37 years with big help from his young supporters. And he came to Japan for his SMiLE live concert. An autograph session was held on the day before of the first day of the concert. A friend of mine who lives in Tokyo got the ticket of this session for me. How can I thank him?

I went to Tower Records Shibuya, the place of the session to meet my friend. It looked as if was going to begin, so a friend of mine was waiting for me, nervously. 200 ticket holders gathered there.After ten minutes, Brian Wilson appeared, and said hello to us. He looked very casual, like he had just walked out of his hotel room. His style didn't radiate with his usual charisma, but we feel soft and gentle atomosphere. As soon as he arrived, the session had began. It had many rules. They said: Things for autograph are only SMiLE's vinyl record sold by Shibuya Tower Records.

Participants could not pass things to Brian directly. Participants were kept away from Brian, etc. What's more, Brian looked tired, so he concentrated to sign autographs with no reaction, no smile. He looked only at his desk. So, the session seemed like a distributing station. But I thought of it as a golden opportunity. I said a message to Brian, keeping in the rules. Then, Brian looked at me, a little surprised, gave me a kind smile, and said "Oh, thank you." Of course I replied.It seemed to be a rare case. When I wrote about it on my weblog in Japanese, some people I didn't know trackbacked with surprising comment like "Here is a miracle man who could communicate with Brian in such situation!"

Despite his nervousness, Brian's concert tour through Japan was a big success and fans were deeply impressed.