Movie Review: Love & Mercy
I didn't even know Love & Mercy was a movie until yesterday, when I searched "movies" on Google. As soon as I saw the poster image for it, though, I knew it had to be good. See?
And then I started reading about it—a movie about Brian Wilson? Specifically about the making of "Pet Sounds?" Starring John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks? Sign me up!
And so I watched it last night. It was weird and trippy (I guess the director wanted movie-goers to understand what taking LSD might be like.), but also just plain interesting. Here are some things I learned from it:
- Obviously, The Beach Boys and The Beatles were contemporaries, but they also largely influenced each other. Consider:
- "Rubber Soul"was the first rock album with a theme and not simply a compilation of a bunch of singles. It was also the album that motivated Wilson to write "Pet Sounds."
- Paul McCartney said "God Only Knows" was his favorite song of all-time. In McCartney's words: "It's a really, really great song—it's a big favorite of mine. I was asked recently to give my top 10 favorite songs [. . .] I didn't think long and hard on it, but I popped that on the top of my list. It's very deep. Very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one." (from the Wikipedia article God Only Knows)
- The Beach Boys definitely abused drugs. This should be obvious, but in my mind, I always just imagined that the poppy and optimistic California Sound couldn't have been influenced by drugs. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors—a lot of their music was dark and brooding—but The Beach Boys? Yes, friends, The Beach Boys. They wrote some of their best music while on drugs, apparently, which makes me wonder . . . Would their music have been better without the influence of drugs? Would it have been worse? As a strong believer in not doing drugs, am I nevertheless glad that The Beach Boys were on drugs, as long as it produced such wonderful songs as "God Only Knows," "Good Vibrations," and "California Girls?" It's something to think about.
- Some people are just really, really kind. Although both Brian Wilson and his wife Melinda Ledbetter said the biography was extremely accurate, Wikipedia cites Beach Boys fan Peter Reum for outing Eugene Landry as a fraud. (Landry was the doctor who misdiagnosed and abused Brian Wilson in the late 80s.) Instead, the movie credits Ledbetter for that act of kindness. Either way, people are nice. People who save other people from abuse should get a medal or a reward of some kind.
Basically, if you like weird, but interesting movies and if you like music and if you like The Beach Boys and if you're curious about people and the world, you should check this movie out. Plus, when you're done watching the movie, all you'll want to do is listen to The Beach Boys, and that's never a bad thing.
Thing I'm thankful for: mom and pops, for introducing me to the incredible world of rock 'n' roll.