Cartoon Beach Boys
Mt Vernon and Fairway jacket
I hope the new week finds you well.
The record I bring you today is something unusual that I happened upn whilst out on the dig last year.
You already know that I’m a big Brian Wilson fan, and thanks to a fair amount of indoctrination and a good ear, my 11 year old son is too.
Like most people, my interest in the Beach Boys started with the early stuff (via ‘Endless Summer’ when I was a kid), and then gradually being exposed to the genius of Brian Wilson as it was revealed, gradually in the band’s more sophisticated music, Pet Sounds and beyond.
When I found my copy of ‘Mt Vernon and Fairway’, I had no idea what it was, or how it fit into the Beach Boys story.
When I got it home and gave it a listen (or three, or four) it was revealed to me as something of a mini-concept album, coming in at just under twelve minutes of ambient music and storytelling (the voice of band manager/collaborator Jack Rieley, who recently passed away), relating a fairytale of a young boy being introduced to music via a Pied Piper in his transistor radio.
Apparently Brian, already in something of a tenuous position with the band, wanted to make ‘Mt Vernon and Fairway’ the centerpiece of the album that would become 1973’s ‘Holland’.
The other band members weren’t too keen on that idea, causing a rift with Brian, that would only be partially healed when Carl insisted that the piece be included with ‘Holland’ as a bonus EP.
As sympathetic as I am toward Brian and his fragile genius, I can also understand why the Beach Boys might have balked at the piece, which sounds more like children’s story record than tracks put down by a major rock band.
On the other hand, it was the early 70s, and the cocaine-soaked record industry was releasing anything and everything, in deluxe, die-cut, fold out sleeves with giant rolling papers, miniature books and what not, so the idea of including something like ‘Mt Vernon and Fairway’ on an album wasn’t entirely out of line.
That said, I enjoy ‘Mt Vernon and Fairway’ on its own merits. It’s certainly not the deepest thing to erupt from the pen of Brian Wilson, but it’s marked by a kind of sincere naivete that I dig.
I’m sure it had Mike Love rolling his eyes, but, you know, fuck him, right?
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you all next week.