Wouldn’t It Be Nice If He Were Younger

The influence of The Beach Boys’ 1966 album ‘Pet Sounds’ on the history of rock music is undeniable. Paul McCartney called it ‘a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways’ and named it as a major influence on ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Elton John said it was ‘a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.’ Eric Clapton called it ‘one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released.’ In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named it as the second-best album of all time. The praise goes on.
The album has aged gracefully, finding new listeners all the time and prompting five re-releases since 1997. Time has been somewhat less kind to Brian Wilson, now 64, the songwriter and main musical talent behind ‘Pet Sounds’ (and most of The Beach Boys’ other work).
Forty years after ‘Pet Sounds,’ Wilson’s genius is undeniable, but his ability as a performer has diminished somewhat, due in no small part to a prolonged struggle with a variety of drug addictions and bouts with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Nonetheless, on Saturday, Jan. 27, when Wilson and his 12-piece backing band brought ‘Pet Sounds’ to life at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in what was billed as the penultimate performance of the album in its entirety, the audience was content to sit, for three hours, in the presence of true musical genius.
Wilson’s inability to deliver all of the notes he had composed four decades earlier was unfortunate, but it also gave a new degree of poignancy to his songs. The melancholy of his lyrics (make no mistake