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Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!

"Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!"
Cover of 2011 reprint published by Atavist.
Author Jules Siegel
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Published in Cheetah
Media type Print (magazine)
Publication date October 17, 1967

"Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!" is an article written by Jules Siegel chronicling his experiences with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys during recording sessions for the abandoned studio album Smile. It was first published in the magazine Cheetah in October 1967, and has since been anthologized in several formats. In 2011, it was made available by Atavist as an e-book.


In the mid-1960s, Jules Siegel had a brief, close acquaintance with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. In addition to several others who comprised a coterie of journalists and businessmen. Siegel accompanied Wilson for much of the Smile era.[1][2][3][4] Siegel, who had recently migrated from New York to Los Angeles, was impressed with Wilson, and he documented his experiences for an article which he had presold for The Saturday Evening Post.[5] Ultimately, as Siegel claims in the piece, the magazine rejected his story due his overly enthusiastic depiction of Wilson's material.[2][4] It was instead published in the magazine Cheetah, which is now defunct.


After its publication, the article propelled the resultant mythology of Smile and the Beach Boys.[5][6] It is the origin of several of the project's legends, including Wilson's fear of the film Seconds, his cancelling of a $3,000 recording session due to "bad vibrations", and his irrational fear of an acquaintance whom Wilson believed practiced witchcraft (Siegel later revealed that it had been his girlfriend).[7] Author Luis Sanchez commented: "He probably had no idea that in writing this story he was also laying the foundation for a mythology that would eventually curl back on to itself and become a snare. As long as there wasn’t a finished album that could speak for itself, the mythology that displaced it came to signify not only a broken promise, a tragic turning point in The Beach Boys’ career, but a way to reduce Brian himself to a set of eccentricities, self-destructive habits, gossip, and, finally, madness."[2]

The title Goodbye Surfing, Hello God! has since been used as the name for a 1996 studio album by Australian alternative rock band Rail[citation needed] and an unauthorized bootleg album featuring various outtakes recorded by the Beach Boys between 1963 and 1972.[8] Within the 1996 album The Psychedelic Years by Dutch avant-garde band Palnickx, an excerpt from the text is read out loud.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kent, Nick (2009). "The Last Beach Movie Revisited: The Life of Brian Wilson". The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music. Perseus Books Group. pp. 32–40. ISBN 978-0-7867-3074-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Sanchez, Luis (2014). The Beach Boys' Smile. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 94, 99–103. ISBN 978-1-62356-956-3. 
  3. ^ Gaines, Steven (1986). Heroes and Villains: The True Story of The Beach Boys. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 158, 167, 173–174. ISBN 0306806479. 
  4. ^ a b Priore, Domenic (2005). Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece. London: Sanctuary. pp. 91, 98. ISBN 1860746276. 
  5. ^ a b Carlin, Peter Ames (2006). Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Rodale. pp. 103–105. ISBN 978-1-59486-320-2. 
  6. ^ Siegel, Jules (November 3, 2011). "Goodbye Surfing, Hello God: Brian Wilson's Tortured Effort to Finish 'Smile'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 3, 2015. 
  7. ^ Dillon, Mark (2012). Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story. ECW Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-1-77090-198-8. 
  8. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!". AllMusic. 

Further reading