There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
In 1967, the 24-year-old force behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, abandoned his unfinished “teenage symphony to God.” Smile, as it was supposed to be called, was meant as a one-upper of a sequel to the band’s acclaimed Pet Sounds—and was, as a bonus, to show the Beatles a thing or two about recording a masterpiece. But Wilson had begun to fall apart: Worn out by touring and drugs, he was hearing voices. He put a sandbox in his living room and became convinced that a track on the new album was responsible for starting wildfires in California. And downhill it went: First came the nervous breakdown, then the rumors that he had burned the Smile tapes. Wilson would spend years lying in bed, only to eventually attempt a comeback under the watchful, crooked eyes of Svengali shrink Eugene Landy. Thirty-seven years later, Wilson, with the aid of Van Dyke Parks; Darian Sahanaja and his band, the Wondermints; and the Stockholm Strings ’n’ Horns, has at last released a complete version of Smile. Though it won’t change the course of popular music, Smile is certainly worth hearing. Wilson’s voice isn’t what it once was, but thanks to technology, he and the Wondermints largely capture the angelic Four Freshmen–inspired harmonies that Wilson employed years ago. And though Parks’ lyrics still come across as too self-important (see: “columnated ruins domino”), the falsetto leads and beautiful instrumentation sparkle. Wilson hits D.C. at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Warner Theatre, 13th and E Sts. NW. $52.50–$85. (202) 397-7328. (Steve Kiviat)