Luis Sanchez grew up in West Texas. He earned his PhD in Musicology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
In the early 1960s, The Beach Boys rose from the suburbs of Hawthorne, California and became emissaries of an American dream that fused middle-class aspiration and mobility with images of youth. Led by dream master Brian Wilson, their music gave voice to a Southern California mythos and compelled an audience across the nation and beyond to live out their own versions of the fantasy. By 1966, the encroaching counterculture added new dimensions of creative possibility to popular music. Looking to revise and expand, Brian Wilson sought collaboration with a brilliant musician named Van Dyke Parks. Together they began work on Smile, an ambitious album of earnest, droll and complex music that refracted The Beach Boys’ naïveté into a visionary exploration of American consciousness. Smile edged so close to greatness it seemed destined to become one of the most significant musical advances of its time. But the story didn't end quite like this.
Sanchez positions Smile as the culmination of this evocative book about The Beach Boys. On one level, it explores the group’s distinct musical character from its roots in a post-WWII suburban Southern California milieu and across anticipatory moments in popular music history. In a broader sense, it frames Smile not merely as a great unfinished album, but as a living work of art that is all at once expansive, indeterminate, and resolutely pop.
Table of contents:
Part One: California Dreams
Part Two: The Pop Miseducation of Brian Wilson
Part Three: To Catch a Wave
Part Four: Smile, Brian Loves You