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Brian Wilson (song)

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"Brian Wilson"
File:BrianWilson1992.jpg
Single by Barenaked Ladies
from the album Gordon and Rock Spectacle
Released 1992 (original release)
October 28, 1997 (re-release)
Format CD; 7" (US)
Recorded 1992 (original)
1997 (re-recording)
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:48 ("Brian Wilson")
3:57 ("Brian Wilson 2000")
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Steven Page
Producer(s) Barenaked Ladies,
Michael Phillip Wojewoda
Barenaked Ladies singles chronology

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Music video
"Brian Wilson" on YouTube

"Brian Wilson" is a song by the Canadian musical group Barenaked Ladies. It was released as a single from the band's debut studio album, Gordon.

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 tells the story of a man whose life parallels that of Beach Boys member Brian Wilson, particularly during his time spent with psychologist Eugene Landy after Wilson was diagnosed with mental illness, and, more generically, with lyrics about suffering from comorbid mental illness and obesity.

Alternative versions

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, again the following year for Gordon, again in 1996 live for Rock Spectacle, and again in 1997 for a version which was called "Brian Wilson 2000" and was released as a single.

Brian Wilson 2000

The "2000" version was 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 cover of "Brian Wilson"

Brian Wilson rearranged and sang this song a cappella with his new band at live concerts, one of which was recorded for a live album he recorded in 2000. Brian 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 (the rest of the song continues as normal).

Chart positions

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

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

External links