in brief : the highlight of the too-brief solo career of your favorite band's favorite beach boy.
capitol seems fond of reissuing beach boys' albums. if this is still the case, let me make a suggestion : release a double-disc, priced as a single, that has all of dennis wilson's best beach boys contributions on one disc--which, to tell the truth, could probably fill two discs worth w/ relative ease--and reissue and remaster pacific ocean blue as the second disc. i honestly can't believe that one can't hear this album--not honestly, at least, which is why i bring you one of the highlights this evening.
dennis, for those who don't keep up w/ these things, was the only real beach boy amongst the beach boys; he was the surfer, the carouser, the golden boy pin-up, the drummer, and a man of soul. like david berman, he might have slept w/ your girlfriend--he did have four wives, after all--but he would feel really bad about it later, and you'd feel bad that he felt bad; you might even ask him how he was holding up. dennis, then, is the lovable beach boy, and the beach boy who might have loved you back. if you've ever seen concert clips, dennis gives his heart, soul, and ragged voice to the crowd, and when he leaves the stage he is absolutely spent.
if brian's style was complex and ornate, dennis's was lumbering and immense. the harmonies have the beach boys hallmarks, only at ten times the size; symphonic ebbs and flows hint at dennis's appreciation of classical music; and, yet, above it all, is that voice, a voice that embraces its limitations, a voice that can make the most leaden line teem w/ life and passion. dennis's voice, more than almost any singer i can think of, is a complete and total projection of the man himself. to hear him sing is to know immediately who he is; to hear him sing the words, "it breaks my heart to see the city," is enough to have your own heart break.
and if only pacific ocean blue was the most heartbreaking thing of all, but, sadly, such an epithet can only describe dennis's death at the age of 39. in a tragic bit of irony, dennis drowned. if he had to choose a way to go, though, one might imagine that drowning might be near the top of the list, though not at such an early age. (if we can take any solace, it might be from the old saying that drowning is the easiest of deaths.) bear w/ me. on "river song," the opener to pacific ocean blue, one hears precisely that heart, soul, and voice put in the service of one of dennis's favorite causes, protecting the environment. "oh mighty river," he sings, "i would love to be like you," and at least one knows that, if he could not be like the river in life, he became one w/ it in death.