Song of the Week – Love Surrounds Me, Dennis Wilson


Today’s SotW was written by another guest contributor, Ron Marcus. Ron has guested for the SotW a couple of times before. He is an exceptional musicologist and rock historian. He’s also a (tie) dyed in the wool Dead Head, having attended almost 300 Grateful Dead concerts by 1993. Ron is also the drummer for Rockridge Station, a band based out of San Francisco’s East Bay that performs original songs and covers of Americana deep cuts.

The Beach Boys have spread their music around the world since 1961. Brian Wilson has written hundreds of songs and has been immortalized by his uncanny craft for hit songs and incredible production, especially vocal harmonies that have hummed in the heads of millions of people for generations. His story was on display in the fantastic biopic Love and Mercy and he just finished a worldwide tour honoring the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, his seminal album that inspired the Beatles to produce Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (considered by many the greatest recording of all time). His battles with mental illness are legendary and represent survival against many odds to come out so gracefully on the other side. Hardly Ignored or Obscured!

However, his brothers Dennis and Carl are a different story. Carl was a great surf guitarist, very underrated in his influence on other guitar players and his vocals on “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows” are as beautiful as any ever sung. Dennis (the Beach Boys’ drummer) is known more for being the only one in the band who was actually a surfer and car racer. He was the one that nudged Brian to write surf and car songs, which paved the road (and waves!) to their legacy. He also is known for being a drunk and druggie who was eventually fired from the band. Of course, he was also infamous for his association with Charles Manson and his family; quite a way to be remembered.

This week’s SotW is called “Love Surrounds Me” by Dennis Wilson. It is from the previously unreleased Bambu, the follow up to his seminal 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue.

POB was critically praised and a seller of 200,000 albums, and it was the first solo release from any Beach Boy. Momentum high, he continued to write incredible, deep textured songs that were slated for inclusion on Bambu, recorded in 1978 and 1979.

As his personal life fell apart, he descended into such self-destructive behavior that he lost all the friends and believers who engineered and produced these songs. So the project died on the studio shelves where it stayed until 2007, 34 years after his tragic death. The engineers and producers finished the mixes and gave the world a treat releasing Pacific Ocean Blue on a 2 CD set that included outtakes and the aforementioned, unreleased Bambu.

“Love Surrounds Me” shows a sensitive side of the wild Beach Boy. He plays most of the keyboards and drums. The harmony vocals are so particular that he went to 6 different studios for final mixing! This track features future girlfriend Christine McVie, from Fleetwood Mac, as one of the singers,

This is just a taste of the depth of Dennis Wilson’s catalog. By the way, none of his songs are about surfers or cars! Just for the record, he is the uncredited writer of Joe Cocker’s 1974 hit ‘You Are So Beautiful.”

Enjoy… until next week.

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