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Marilyn Wilson Comments
[One third of the Honeys singing trio, Marilyn Rovell met Brian at a Beach Boys show at Pandora's Box, a legendary club located on a small island on Crescent Heights Boulevard at the far east end of the Sunset Strip near Schwab's drugstore. A year later, in 1964, when Marilyn was sixteen, she and Brian were married. By her eighteenth birthday, Brian had finished both Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations." Before they divorced in 1979, they had two daughters, Carnie and Wendy who had gigantic pop success in the late 1980s/early 1990s as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips. Marilyn begins her Pet Sounds story back in 1966 when Brian and Marilyn lived at 1448 Laurel Way in Beverly Hills, and Brian used to look out at the twinkling lights of the city and think his biggest dreams.)


"When we talk about Pet Sounds, all I picture is our Laurel Way house, and how all he did during that time was create a mood. Like with the sandbox in the living room. Why would you want to do that?  Simple – he wanted a certain feeling. So then, when he had the piano in the sandbox, what he wanted was to section off a part of the formal dining room. He had a runner along the ceiling, like a curtain rod, and he wanted to close off the sandbox like a room. A lady from a yardage shop came to the house, and he picked out this material....the pattern he wanted was little children playing, so it would be like little babies playing in the sand.

Toddlers sitting with their buckets. It was a drawing. The idea was that he would pull the curtain closed, and it would feel like you were at the beach. Brian would have ideas, and if he didn't like it five minutes after they put it up, he would never use it again.You can't imagine what it was like waking up every single day with him because every day was a new experience. You didn't know what to expect. I used to wake up and say, 'I'm ready for today.’

"There was no such thing as a typical day. It wasn't ever like 'Okay, Mar, it's ten o'clock. We're going to bed!’

Sometimes, during the making of Pet Sounds, he would be up all night long, and then sleep during the morning. He was always a night person. I can't tell you how many hours he would work every day, because it was all the time, unless he was in the car. When he was at home, he was either at the piano, arranging or eating.

"There were always adventures. Sometimes, at three in the morning, I would be sleeping and he would wake me up and go 'Mar, Mar, you gotta come hear this And I would get up, and he would play what he just wrote as I would be making him a sandwich. I just loved everything he wrote. I don't know how to explain it; it was always just wonderful.

"He always wanted people around him, Danny Hutton and Terry Sachen and our friends, smoking grass and getting high. One of the things he asked me to do was have dinners, at our long dining room table with the blue velvet high-backed chairs. I would buy huge prime ribs, and I would make these huge roasts. And potatoes. These big feasts. He relates to food and music.

"Sometimes the music didn't come easily; he would constantly be at the piano. It would vary. I can't put it in hours; he was just always at the piano. I don't remember him doing anything else. He was at the piano. There aren't many sides to Brian; the music was his only outlet.

"Before he got messed up, he was really pretty funny and a lot of fun. He would do crazy things, like drive a motorcycle into Gold Star studios. And he got away with mostly everything he did, because everybody loved him. He really made people laugh. He was very funny. That's one of the things that attracted me to him. He was also really gorgeous. He had a great body, great hands, great hair; he used to get it done at Sebring.

"Brian commands attention, just naturally, because he knows how to get it and he likes it. He gets people to do what he wants, and he liked to have a lot of swimming parties. So when we got the Laurel Way house, it didn't have a yard so we had a pool dug. We would have night parties, and everybody would come and swim. He liked people to get excited about having fun. He liked to do fun things. He was always unpredictable, and you had to go with it."


"I would always hear Brian with his music when there was nobody else there, and I would be walking through the house, and I would never interrupt. He was working.

"He also got inspired working with a collaborator; it wasn't fun working by yourself. He liked the inspiration of working with other people and their minds. That's why he always went for the eccentric, like Van Dyke Parks, because he wanted somebody with a mind that was different from his.

"Sometime in late 1965, Tony Asher was introduced to Brian. Obviously, he inspired Brian and came up with a lot of good lyrics. Anybody around Brian who was fascinating was somebody to collaborate with. If they were interesting and unusual, that's who he would gravitate towards. Tony was coming up to the house, and they were writing at the piano. I don't remember the lyric writing too much, but I think Brian's songs on that album came from a tortured person. From the moment I met Brian, he was always in self-turmoil, unhappy about his life and his feelings, and he just was never happy with himself. Always wanting to be happier as a person, so I think that Pet Sounds is derived from a tortured soul. He loved to express things like that.

"Most people have a hard time letting it out, but the thing with Brian is that he always lets everything out, and there is so much there that it's never ending. He just wanted to do an album with music as artistic as he could make it...the way he really felt, remember him saying that he could do the normal, commercial stuff that's out, but that he wanted to do his best work, the best he could ever do. He knew what he was capable of arranging, and he wanted to combine pop music with orchestrated music...the way he likes to orchestrate music. Not symphonies, but Brian Wilson-type of orchestrations.

"And so he thought that combining those feelings with the music would make a great album. Why would he do an album like everybody else? He wasn't like anybody else. He wanted to do a rock album with beauty and soul and everything he could put in there. He just wanted to spill his guts. He would say, during the course of the album, 'I just wanna make the greatest rock 'n' roll record, a record that everyone is gonna love.’

"Watching him in the studio was incredible. It wasn't like at Spector sessions where Jack Nitzsche would come in with the charts written all out. Brian would go out there and be spontaneous. He had his handwritten arrangement and he would go out into the studio and give it to the musicians; it would be funky but correct. The musicians would find it so fascinating that after they were done, they would all come into the booth and listen like it was their record. They all loved it. Brian Wilson always took things to another level. He was another level. He was so far ahead of me it would be hard to comprehend where he was at, because he was always somewhere else.

"When Brian would go into a session, those great, wonderful studio musicians who worked with just about everybody, would all be excited because they didn't know what he was going to do. He would just come up with these wonderful parts and do everything. He was just so much fun."


"I was used to him waking me up in the middle of the night and putting the earphones on to play me a new record like '(She's Not) The Little Girl I Once Knew.’ Years later, he did it with the Friends album.

"But the first time I heard Pet Sounds was a special night. The album was done, finally finished. He brought it home on that big acetate, and he set the mood. We were on our king-sized iron brass bed and headboard; we had the lights down low. He played it, and it was one of the most moving experiences you could ever imagine. As I heard each song, one by one, it was 'Gasp.’ It was so beautiful, one of the most spiritual times of my whole life. We both cried. Right after we listened to it, he said he was scared that nobody was going to like it. That it was too intricate."


"You Still Believe In Me.' I always thought he wrote that with me in mind. He knew that he was not a good husband, and that I was very lonely, and really didn't get much back from him, and he made me cry all the time, because it was hard to understand that kind of life, what was going on for him. It was like there wasn't much of a relationship, the only way we really ever related was musically. I could always sing the parts he needed me to. He would have me sing harmonies. We had a common bond with music. I understood, and I could hear, and I could sing.

"I would think that some of the words were about me, but it was hard to know 'cause he was writing with other people. 'You're So Good To Me' and songs like that I knew for sure, but not the ones on Pet Sounds."

"Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)" – How much more romantic can you get? Brian was very romantic when he wanted to be, and so to be able to be in your twenties and say 'Don't talk, put your head on my shoulder.’

Other people would have thought that was sissyish, but he was very romantic, and that was just coming from two people just being close.

"He loved harmonies, that's how he related to music, but during that time, when it came to his high voice, he started getting tired of it, and it was the beginning of his feelings of his inadequacy. And it all related to him singing high; he was very self-conscious about that. Brian was always trying to search for himself. His music was deeply intertwined with all his personal hang-ups, he couldn't separate anything. Everything was always just one. The music was the good feeling part, and the other part didn't feel good."

"Caroline, No" – The thing about 'Caroline, No' is that I hadn't heard too much of it, until he brought it home and played it in our den. That was just a hard song for me. First of all, his first crush in school was for a girl named Carol. So I thought he was writing this song about her. One thing about Brian, he constantly remembers his past and still relates to it and everybody in it. And that's another thing at seventeen years old that was hard for me to understand. You want this man to talk about you, and he was talking about all his old girlfriends.

"And then, it was one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard. He brings home the acetate, and he's playing it and I wasn't ready for how intense it was. Those are, in my opinion, intense lyrics, from a romantic standpoint, which is the way I was thinking in those days. And then, I thought it was about me, because I had cut my hair. I think I wrecked it, bleaching it or something. He always used to talk about how long hair keeps a girl feminine. So the combination of the other girl's name and me cutting my long hair and me being totally insecure in our relationship.

Does he love me; does he love her? I knew he loved me, but I always was in constant turmoil because Brian would not let go. He always thought that everybody was in the same place where he was."


"Everybody at Capitol said it should be a single because it was so good, and there were no background vocals, so they said, 'Why don't we release this as a Brian Wilson single, because it's really not a Beach Boys song."

"God Only Knows" – The first time I heard it, Brian played it for me at the piano. And 1 went, 'Oh my god, he's talking about God in a record.' It was pretty daring to me. And it was another time I thought to myself, 'Oh, boy, he's really taking a chance.’ I thought it was almost too religious. Too square. At that time. Yet, it was so great that he would say it and not be intimidated by what anybody else would think of the words or what he meant.

"He wasn't afraid to show the world how sensitive and spiritual he was...that even though he was in the rock 'n' roll field, he could say things that meant something. I just know that he wanted it to go through people's bodies...to feel it, like it was an experience.

"Again, with the lyrics … I may not always love you I didn't know any better. I thought it was about me. I'm the only one here, so it must be about me. Then I would think, 'No it wasn't.’ But he knew that I was there and I would never leave him, so he knew that he could abuse me, even though he didn't try to. I was never number one, I was always two or three. But if I would leave in some kind of a way, he would get totally distraught. I was his anchor. Music was always number one. I didn't mind that. I just wanted to be number one as a mate and in his love life. Music was who he was. I related to it. That's how we related. The music was so beautiful. You can't compete with something that's a part of you. That was not competition."

"I Know There's An Answer" – When I heard that, I thought, this is Brian and how he is really thinking about how he cannot relate to life and how people think, and there's gotta be something else. Basically, I thought that most of Pet Sounds was just him saying how frustrated he was in this life. Frustrated that nobody could relate to him musically or intellectually or whatever. Like 'I Just Wasn't Made For These Times' … I thought it was a great release for him."

"Good Vibrations" – I just remember talking about his mother and the dog, and that was a time and era when vibrations were really happening. When those words were becoming popular, and Brian was more into spirituality. He just related to people...vibrations...and the vibrations they give off to each other."


"When Brian was writing Pet Sounds, it was difficult for the guys to understand what he was going through emotionally and what he wanted to create. His need. His self-need. It was difficult because they didn't feel what he was going through and what direction he was trying to go in..."


"He was always on the phone with Karl Engemann, one of the top executives at Capitol back then. We used to go to their house, and Brian loved it. Karl was a real nice family man. He was so gentle with him, and Brian needed somebody like that. Brian couldn't take the typical 'hype' record executive, and he needed somebody that was tender, homey. One of the things that frustrated Brian about the business was all the people and all their egos.

Karl was a real nice person. People are all on their own ego trips, and, of course, Brian had a huge ego too.

"There was always pressure to deliver an album, but Brian couldn't work fast. You can't be spontaneous and creative when you have pressure. In those days, you had to deliver an album every few months. How do you write great stuff like that and do it the right way? It's funny but Brian is one of these people who brought creativity to modern music, but they were so hard on him. Now, the record companies are so lenient with their artists. Still, even when Brian made them wait, Capitol was always happy once they got their product.

"The thing that I remember the most is that when Pet Sounds wasn't as quickly a hit or as huge or an immediate success, it really destroyed Brian. He just lost a lot of faith in people and music. Because he put his heart and soul into it, it's hard to think that people just want something mediocre instead of that wonderful, wonderful album. But let's face it, he was just ahead of his time. People weren't ready for it. How could they be? How can you go from 'Barbara Ann' to those songs?

"Still, it wasn't that big a jump. I mean, 'God Only Knows' is incredible, but it's simple. He always could write simple things that were so creative. "So if Pet Sounds was Brian letting go of his own soul and it wasn't a big hit, then when people would talk about it later, tell him how great it was, even if it was just a year later, he didn't want to hear about it. It reminded him of failing. And then he was more tortured. It never stopped. It just got layered on.

"By the time people caught up to Pet Sounds, he had already let go of it. People would tell him Pet Sounds was great, but he said, 'Listen to this." When he wrote music, he would write it for himself. And then he would want to turn everybody on to it. He wrote about what was coming from inside him, what was making him happy and what was on his mind, and it wasn't necessarily on everybody else's mind.

"Who knows what would have happened if that album had been a hit, 'cause that was not his limit. At the time, he was dying inside to express himself. It was his goal. More than that, he had to do it. It was so intense. He probably thought that all that was going to give him the satisfaction he needed out of life. It wasn't the answer to his problems.

"When it wasn't received by the public the way he thought it would be received, it made him hold back. He couldn't understand. He would say, 'Why aren't people willing to expand and accept more and grow as I'm growing?' He held back a little, but he didn't stop. He couldn't stop. He needed to create more. And he went on to do 'Heroes And Villains.'

"Pet Sounds is an album from a very frustrated man. It's such a complicated thing. Some people want to get up and exercise; all Brian could do is live and breathe music. That's all he thought about, coming from every pore in him. He doesn't just think of music; his body was just music. Nobody will ever know the emotional meaning in every single line of that record.

"You know, creating music for Brian, sitting down at the piano and writing music is just as easy for Brian as walking. That was the easy part. Life was hard for Brian."

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