A New Interpretation of SMiLE

Zen and Pet Sounds

The Elements

The Koan/The Hallucination

Bio Based SMiLE

The Opposites


Zen and The Beatles' Revolver

East Or West Indies

Cool Links

The Trip



This essay was the end product of all this website's SMiLE=Zen koan theorizing.

The essay hinted at something happening between the Americana & Elemental movements and placed "Surf's Up" near the center of SMiLE.













































This attempt was finished on February 19th, 2004; one day prior to the live premiere of SMILE.
The essay was meant to demonstrate that a basic understanding of the work could be had by an average fan.


The following may or may not be a fictional explanation of SMiLE.
The quotes used within may or may not be used in their proper context.


Brian Wilson’s growing spiritual awareness and his desire to find “the answer” led him to a beach. This is where Brian found the ultimate religious experience.


“It’s only happened to me once---early in the morning alone on the beach…” – from Surfing Saints (Look! Listen! VIBRATE! SMILE!, page 98)

Brian’s biography describes his final LSD trip as, “…the ultimate in LSD joyrides...four hours of enlightenment and spirituality.”- (Wouldn’t It Be Nice, page 144)


“…I had what I consider a very religious experience. I took LSD, a full dose of LSD, and later, another time, I took a smaller dose. And I learned a lot of things...”- Brian Wilson to Tom Nolan (LLVS, page 167)


The two trip dynamic of Brian’s religious experience claim implies that the earlier trip was part of the later trip. There was only one religious experience.


“It’s only happened to me once---early in the morning alone on the beach with the sun coming up very red.” – from Surfing Saints (LLVS, page 98)


Brian stood on the beach, tripping, facing America. The dawn’s early light illuminated the horizon with an all encompassing red glow. It looked as if there was a huge fire burning in the distance. This brought back bad memories of Brian’s prior trip. It too had involved fire.


“As the LSD kicked in, I remember hearing fire trucks from the station across the street rumbling out of the driveway, their sirens wailing louder and louder.”- (WIBN, page 123)


There was a time element involved during this bad trip.


“I visualized myself drifting back in time. Getting smaller and younger…”- (WIBN, page 123)


There was also Brian’s battle filled past.


“I relived arguments I’d had with my dad.”- (WIBN, page 123)


The sun continued to rise as the bad memories of his previous trip, and his life, continued to haunt Wilson.


“I continued getting smaller…. And then, finally, I was gone. I didn’t exist”- (WIBN, page 123)


Brian was dead, or near death at this point. It wasn’t a physical death but rather a spiritual one; an ego death.


The song, “Surf’s Up,” portrays the still rising sun this day as a glass of red wine.


“The glass was raised, the fired rose, the fullness of the wine, the dim last toasting. While at port adieu or die. A choke of grief, heart-hardened I, beyond belief, a broken man too tough to cry.”- from “Surf’s Up”


Wilson elaborated upon the lyrics, “’A choke of grief.’ At his own sorrow and the emptiness of his life, because he can’t even cry for the suffering in the world, for his own suffering…. And then, hope.’”- Brian Wilson to Jules Siegel (LLVS, page 89)


At this point the rising sun broke away from the faraway hills and the eerie red fog that had lit the skyline quickly evaporated from the horizon.


There was a moment of clear light.


The problems of Brian’s life faded like the far-off fire.


“The thing you really look for is the moment of clear light. It’s only happened to me once---early in the morning alone on the beach with the sun coming up very red. A moment of clear light.” – from Surfing Saints (LLVS, page 98)


"Existence not only ceases to be a problem; the mind is so wonder-struck at the self-evident and self-sufficient fitness of things as they are, including what would ordinarily be thought the very worst, that it cannot find any word strong enough to express the perfection and beauty of the experience. Its clarity sometimes gives the sensation that the world has become transparent or luminous, and its simplicity the sensation that it is pervaded and ordered by a supreme intelligence."- Alan Watts (This Is It)


"Clarity--the disappearance of problems--suggests light, and in moments of such acute clarity there may be the physical sensation of light penetrating everything. To a theist this will naturally seem to be a glimpse of the presence of God..."- Alan Watts (This Is It)


It is at this point that the vinyl SMiLE record album would have had to have been turned over; at the point of God’s intervention.


On the beach Brian saw that the sun had broken from the horizon and his fiery fear and all that it implied had vanished. The red sun now showed fire as a life-giving essential part of all things. Fire was now understood on an elemental level.


“You need the elements.”- Brian Wilson from his “Smog” rant


Brian turned his feet around in the sand.


“Come about hard…”- from “Surf’s Up”


Brian saw the water, the spiritual element, the opposite of fire. Brian understood perfectly.


He felt reborn. He had no past. He felt like a child. He realized that there is only now.


“…the whole thing was there. I mean my whole life. Birth and death and rebirth. The whole thing. Even the beach was in it, a whole thing about the beach. It was my whole life…”- Brian Wilson commenting about the movie SECONDS to Jules Siegel (LLVS, page 87)

"Out of the LSD madness (and there were few horrors) there came a few 'zaps'. It made me laugh. I'd never thought about, couldn't even say the word 'God'. It embarrassed me, but you know it was so strange, GOD, and it washed away all these fears and doubts and little things that hang you up...."- George Harrison (I Me Mine)


Side one of SMiLE was to be set in America (as was the sunrise) and set in the past (as was Brian’s earlier trip and some of the places that trip took him to). Often there seems to be a battle going on between the spiritually “in tune” and those less spiritual (as was the case with Brian and his dad). There is a separation of the enlightened and the unenlightened. Brian identified with the spiritually enlightened.


Side two of SMiLE was to present the beach experience as well as the new enlightened Brian in the present tense; via the elements.

Home | Introduction | A New Interpretation of SMiLE | Zen and Pet Sounds | The Elements | The Koan
Bio Based SMiLE | The Opposites | Ego | Zen and The Beatles' Revolver | East Or West Indies | Cool Links

The Good Humor SMiLE Site!

"The new pastoral landscape suddenly being uncovered by the young generation provided a quiet, peaceful, harmonious trip into inner space. The hassles and frustrations of the external world were cast aside, and new visions put in their place."
~Bruce Golden, The Beach Boys: Southern California Pastoral


"That which is called ego-death is coming to you.
This is now the hour of death and rebirth;
Take advantage of this temporary death to obtain the perfect state-
Concentrate on the unity of all living beings.
Hold onto the Clear Light.
Use it to attain understanding and love."
Leary, Metzner, and Alpert, The Psychedelic Experience (pg.115)

The Old Brian (1st movement), The Moment of Clear Light (2nd movement), The New Brian (3rd Movement)
Negative trip experiences, Clear Light, Positive trip experiences
past suffering, Clear Light, new found peace
Fire, Clear Light, Water


by Robert Service

The waves have a story to tell me,
As I lie on the lonely beach;
Chanting aloft in the pine-tops,
The wind has a lesson to teach;
But the stars sing an anthem of glory
I cannot put into speech.

The waves tell of ocean spaces,
Of hearts that are wild and brave,
Of populous city places,
Of desolate shores they lave,
Of men who sally in quest of gold
To sink in an ocean grave.

The wind is a mighty roamer;
He bids me keep me free,
Clean from the taint of the gold-lust,
Hardy and pure as he;
Cling with my love to nature,
As a child to the mother-knee.

But the stars throng out in their glory,
And they sing of the God in man;
They sing of the Mighty Master,
Of the loom his fingers span,
Where a star or a soul is a part of the whole,
And weft in the wondrous plan.

Here by the camp-fire's flicker,
Deep in my blanket curled,
I long for the peace of the pine-gloom,
When the scroll of the Lord is unfurled,
And the wind and the wave are silent,
And world is singing to world.

-from Collected Poems Of Robert Service, (pg. 8.)