I grew up listening to the Beach BoysóEndless Summer, Pet Sounds,
Spirit of America; I think my sister had all the albums. For many
people, the Beach Boys represented happy days, good times, the beach,
growing up. Not being a religious Beach Boys follower (I was in it for
the music), I was one of those people.
In Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boysí Brian Wilson, former People writer Peter Ames Carlin chronicles the Beach Boys and their successes and failures through dozens of interviews and studio tapes, resulting in an extraordinary opus of Brian Wilson and the brothers, cousin, and friends who made up the Beach Boys.
This book is extremely well written. It provides details of the physical and
psychological abuse of a domineering father, drug abuse, Brian Wilsonís
struggle with mental illness, and (to my surprise) a group devoid of
emotional support for one another. The 40-year history of the album Smile is also prominently featured. In addition, Carlin provides reviews of the songs and analyses of the lyrics (which shed a different light on some of
my favorite Beach Boys songs).
If youíre a die-hard Beach Boys fan/follower, then maybe nothing in this
book will come as a surprise (although I doubt it). If you think of the
Beach Boys as a close-knit, beach-going, surfer-dude, fun-in-the-sun,
fast-car-loving bunch of guys, then I should probably recommend that you
steer clear of this book, lest it shatter the illusionóbut I canít do
that. In all honesty, I canít decide whether this would be a great book
if it werenít so sad, or whether this would be a sad book if it werenít so
greatóbecause both statements apply here. After reading Catch a
Wave, I donít think Iíll ever listen to a Beach Boys song in quite the
same way. In any case, the book moved me, and Iím glad I read it.