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Publisher's Summary

They say there are no second acts in American lives, and third acts are almost unheard of. That's part of what makes Brian Wilson's story so astonishing.

As a cofounding member of the Beach Boys in the 1960s, Wilson created some of the most groundbreaking and timeless popular music ever recorded. With intricate harmonies, symphonic structures, and wide-eyed lyrics that explored life's most transcendent joys and deepest sorrows, songs like "In My Room", "God Only Knows", and "Good Vibrations" forever expanded the possibilities of pop songwriting. Derailed in the 1970s by mental illness, drug use, and the shifting fortunes of the band, Wilson came back again and again over the next few decades, surviving and - finally - thriving. Now, for the first time, he weighs in on the sources of his creative inspiration and on his struggles, the exhilarating highs and the debilitating lows.

I Am Brian Wilson reveals as never before the man who fought his way back to stability and creative relevance, who became a mesmerizing live artist, who forced himself to reckon with his own complex legacy and completed Smile, the legendary unfinished Beach Boys record that had become synonymous with both his genius and its destabilization. Today Brian Wilson is older, calmer, and filled with perspective and forgiveness. Whether he's talking about his childhood, his bandmates, or his own inner demons, Wilson's story, told in his own voice and in his own way, unforgettably illuminates the man behind the music, working through the turbulence and discord to achieve, at last, a new harmony.

©2016 Da Capo Press (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Surviving the Minor Keys in Life - Love Overcomes

When I was young the Beach Boy sound made a big impact on me. Brian Wilson had written some American classic songs like God Only Knows, The Warmth of the Sun and In My Room. Like all lives, there were tough times with a overbearing father, pressure to duplicate hits, and intergroup tensions. This was made a lot worse by mental illness and incessant negative voices that plagued Brian as he was reaching the peak of his career.

He never eliminated those voices, but with the love of a woman and a support network of friends and ethical doctors (with the exception of a manipulative Dr. Landy) he is in a good place in the last decades of his life.

I loved listening to this story and for someone who grew up in the sixties, there was an added technological bonus that would have made me drop to my knees back then.

I recently subscribed to Google Play which makes almost any song available after a quick search. So Brian would mention a song and if it intrigued me, I would stop the book, search out the song and listen. I do not own the extensive catalog, but with this music service i found everything. So when Brian said he had the drummer put two snare shots in this spot - I immediately went to the song and verified the effect it had. When he talked about his Gershwin tribute album I could listen to his thinking about a certain song and then check out the actual piece of music.

If someone had told me back in the sixties that I would be listening to a book on a small handheld device and be able to use that same device to instantly find any song mentioned in the book out of hundreds of songs and listen with stereo headphones and - oh yeah you could also phone anyone in the world - i would not have believed it.

It is true. Listen to this book with a music service and you will have a great time.

44 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

This book was awesome! I finished it in a little over a day. I was initially disappointed that Brian was not the narrator but I was pleasantly surprised - the narrator was wonderful and captured Brian's words perfectly. So glad to finally hear Brian's story in Brian's words.

14 people found this helpful

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God bless you Brian Wilson

Loved hearing your memoir in your own words. The narrator sounded just like you were talking straight at us with confidence and sensitivity. I deal with mental illness in my home. Thank you for an uplifting perspective.

6 people found this helpful

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the real Brian

a great story fills in all the details of his life and the beach boys

5 people found this helpful

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In Brian's Voice - For Better or Worse

Both the strength and the weakness of the book is that this is an autobiography by Brian Wilson himself. You can tell immediately that he has dealt with mental illness/drugs/abuse most of his life and that his co writer kept this 'personality' intact. The book rambles aimlessly and is very hard to follow. Often, you'll have to spend your time reading between the lines or putting pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are handed out one-by-one over time. But this is truly Brian's voice and for once, you get his perspective rather than so many others' interpretation.

The book is loosely chronological but only after some very disjointed first three chapters. A lot of times Brian would say he would go into more detail later or want to wait before talking about a subject (such as his father or Dr. Landy) but you wouldn't really get much more detail after that anyway. It made for a frustrating read at times and honestly rather boring at some parts. E.g, Brian would start talking about a childhood friend in Inglewood, bounce to a Dr. Landy issue, and then suddenly start talking about the time one of his kids left a suitcase outside and he had to be a stern parent and demand the kid bring it inside.

I think the two subjects that you'll gain a bit of insight into are the frustrations with his father and his life after marrying Melinda. It is clear Brian has had time to reflect on why his father was abusive and to also forgive him. So he does not go into much detail about that fractious relationship and instead seems more intent on reducing the vilification that Murry Wilson has received over the years. It was clearly important to Brian that his father's actions be understood in the context of how Murry was raised. At the same time, though, we learn very little of Brian's mother. Even less about his first wife and those children.

The book gave a nice insight to Brian's home life with Melinda. From adopting children, the struggles they faced as parents, and amusing anecdotes of parenting. What seems clearest is that despite the usual couple spats, he truly seems to have found happiness for the first time in his life. He seems content.

Those looking for more salacious details about his past will not find it here. I honestly don't think Brian remembers a lot of it and so most of the statements or discussions on topics such as Dr. Landy are glossed over. As such, you won't learn much about the middle years of his life. The gems of the book are remembrances of his past growing up in Inglewood and his current life with Melinda and the kids. As well, Brian talks candidly about the coping mechanisms he used to deal with the both the outside abuse and his own mental health demons.

I listened to the audio version and it was well narrated. The narrator did not attempt to sound like Brian, which was good, and instead provided an easy-to-follow reading that was in the spirit of the subject. It is a very easy listen and I highly recommend this option.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing story. Inspirational and heart felt.

Great book about a musical genius who is amazingly human and the driving force behind The Beach Boys. He is our Paul McCartney! It's also a story about the struggles with mental illness.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Don't bother

This was a dull read. It was poorly written in a simplistic style. No new insights. This was a total waste of time.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautiful.

All I could have ever wanted in a Brian Wilson autbio.
Candid
Sincere
Warm
Bittersweet
A story of true strength and survival

His voice was instantly my new warm blanket in the truest sense of the word. Eyes... nose...face... I'm just wrecked from tears. Thank you Brian for taking the time to gift us your beautiful story. So many of us can gain so much affirmation and hope through the memories you have shared. God bless.

2 people found this helpful

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Brian Wilson, finally revealed.

An amazing book which delves into the history of The Beach Boys through the eyes and beautiful mind of their leader and creative driving force, Brian Wilson. The book is well written and the narration of the audible version is excellent. Lots of great information, delivered in an entertaining way.

2 people found this helpful

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excellent

listening to this audiobook gave me a new found understanding of the beach boys. I don't think there was ever a rock n roll group that compares to them.

I also listened to Mike loves audiobook. had never studied that much about the beach boys. glad I did.

2 people found this helpful