Brian Wilson, Reconstructed

For his first solo album in a decade, the creative force behind the Beach Boys recovers both himself and his music (sort of)

Brian Wilson knows that people wonder about his mental stability. "I think they think I might be trying to get through something that I'm going through," he says. "That I'm having a problem letting myself feel good, because I've had a lot of hard knocks. It's not so easy to let myself feel good with people, because I get -- I got hurt. But that's just me, that's just something I had to go through. It might look like I'm going through something, but I'm really not going through too much. I think I'm gonna be OK."

"People just need to understand that this is a guy who's damaged," says Steve Dahl. "And like a prizefighter, he's working his way out of it. It's the 12th round and he still has a chance to get the decision. I don't think the healing process is completely over yet. He's past the rough stuff now; he just needs to keep going out there and keep working at it."

Joe Thomas says that about seven or eight songs were left over from the Imagination sessions, and that there are plans to work together on a new album. But Wilson says he has no interest in working with Thomas again ("for my own personal reasons"), and instead speaks enthusiastically about his next project: He wants to make a rock 'n' roll album, just to see if he can. "Rock and roll, as I see it, is energy that I need so much, so badly inside of me. The energy to produce a rock and roll record, to produce an album of rock and roll." Why rock? "Because I like rock and roll. Because everybody likes it. People say, 'I know you can make great records, but can you rock?' Anybody can rock! Anyone can rock and roll. If you can count to four" -- he pats out a rhythm on his thighs with his palms -- "bom, bom, bom, bom -- you're rockin'."

He already has one of the songs written, called "How Could We Still Be Dancing." Asked to sing a bit of it, he gamely complies. Pausing for a moment, he leans back against the couch and gathers his thoughts. Then, patting out another rhythm, he sings:

How could we still be dancing
After all these years?
How could we still be laughing
After all those tears?

"It's a very good song," says Brian Wilson.

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