On a hot afternoon, in 1966, Brian Wilson
drove Al Jardine around the parking lot of the William Morris
Agency (where Brian's friend Loren Schwartz worked), trying to
get Al to take LSD. Brian was, in Al's words, "explaining
to me about this great trip he'd just taken," and Brian
seemingly had few reservations, if any, about sending Al on a
Brian's belief in the positive outcome to such a trip was so
strong that his next album would mirror his enlightened trip
experience. The album would, in essence, be the LSD trip that
Brian described for Al Jardine, but more importantly the album
would be presented in the form of a riddle. For it was a riddle
that drove Wilson to go on this great trip in the first place
and it was that same riddle that Wilson contemplated during the
Brian's great LSD trip is represented in its most elementary
form on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE by "The
Elements" AKA "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" and "In
The setting for the trip is the beach (at Lake Arrowhead,
"Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" opens with the presentation
of the mystery, or riddle. This is the mystery that Brian was
presented with during his bookstore acid flashback. During the
flashback Brian felt that he was in the middle of a giant spinning
top and this music goes round and round recreating the bookstore
It seems that there was a bird, or some birds, present during
Brian's beach trip. This is represented by the bird calls present
in the opening part of "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow."
Brian contemplated the mystery. The sun began to rise over
the horizon. It was a very red sun that morning. What had his
mystery meant? Brian thought of his prior LSD experience.
Then comes the "Fire" music. This is Brian flashing
back to his prior LSD trip (his second trip) and the fire paranoia
that gripped him during that trip. Brain also relived his past
during this trip and the battles that he had had with his father
while growing up. The fire music also represents the negativity,
the hell, of Brian's life.
The vocal part from "Fall Breaks and Back to Winter (W.
Woodpecker Symphony)" present on "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow"
adds yet another bird connection.
Is it hot as hell in here, or
is it me?
The "Fire" part of trip has engulfed Brian in his
It really is a mystery.
The mystery had taken its toll on Brian's ego, and had left
him for dead (ego-wise, that is).
If I die before I wake, I pray
the Lord my soul to take my misery--
Like a soul lost on the desert sand, beaten down by mystery
and fire, Brian craved water.
I could really use a drop to drink.
Then something wonderful happened. The red sun broke from
the horizon taking away the fiery vision.
Feel like I was really in the...PINK!
The sky turned pink.
It started to rain. Cool, cool, water!
Dig the lake, the pool, the sink, the snow, the fountains, the
His misery was gone. His prayer had been answered.
Brian replayed the trip in his mind. This trip would make
one pretty cool record album. The idea of making people happy
via an album made Brian even happier.
"In Blue Hawaii" conveys Brian's happiness.
Brian then envisioned the production of his next single, "Good
Pretty cool trip!
Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE
The negative "Fire" part of Brian's positive trip
experience could be expanded into a whole movement. The battles
of Brian's past (that he relived during his second LSD trip)
could be part of this movement. Keep in mind, Brian was on a
beach looking at the sun rising over America.
"Our Prayer"- An intro to the blessed event. This
track conveys the religious significance of the LSD experience.
"Gee" - A song by The Crows starts it off. Note
the bird reference a la "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow."
"Heroes And Villains"- Brian relived fights from
his past during the "Fire" episode. This song is about
a fight between Brian and his Dad, and Brian and Marilyn, and
Brian and some of the Beach Boys. It's spiritually enlightened
Brian and the unenlightened crowd.
"Roll Plymouth Rock"- Inspired by Brian's first
LSD trip, this song presents us with a journey, a "trip."
We're tripping through the past just as Brian had revisited his
past during the "Fire" trip.
"Barnyard"- Fire and water are opposites, and Brian's
groovy trip had given him an understanding of opposites. "Barnyard"
is the opposite of "Vega-Tables." "Barnyard"
is the meat to the vegetables of "Vega-Tables."
And yet, "Barnyard" is similar to "Vega-Tables"
as it is humorous and promotes fitness which Brian believed were
two important ingredients for spiritual enlightenment.
"Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine"- From the
beach Brian looked out upon the "faraway hills" (from
"The Old Master Painter" lyrics). The sadness of Brian's
past (relived during the "Fire" trip) is represented
by the sad rendition of "You Are My Sunshine."
"Cabin Essence"- Brian's fiery second trip had taken
place in an apartment. Brian's third trip (Lake Arrowhead, California)
likely originated in a lakeside cabin. Remembrances of his second
trip stoked the woodsy setting creating a "home on the
range" which is a stove top reference to his "Fire"
experience. The "iron horse" is the fire engine whose
siren is recreated musically in "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow."
While Brian was reliving the "Fire" episode on the
beach his sight was cast upon the "faraway hills" which
are represented in "Cabin Essence" by the lyric "facing
waves of wheat" as well as the "cornfield"
and the "wheat field." The "truck driving man"
reference refers to Brian driving during the "Fire"
trip. The crow that cries is another bird reference and, like
the song by The Crows that opens the movement, can be related
to the bird references contained in "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow."
The second movement of Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE
is what happens between the "Fire" music and the "Water"
music ("Water" being the "I Love To Say Da Da"
music of "In Blue Hawaii"). The second movement is
the movement that coincides with the spoken part that opens "In
Blue Hawaii"; the "Is it hot as hell in here or
is it me" bit. This is the ego loss movement.
"Wonderful"- The female opposite to the male that
closes the second movement via "Surf's Up" (just as
the fire based "hot as hell" lyric has an opposite
in the water based "drop to drink" lyric). We're
still located in the forest. This song, along with the others
in this movement, exemplify the spoken lyric, "It really
is a mystery."
"Song For Children"- Brian, still on the beach,
continues to contemplate the mystery as the sun continues to
"Child Is Father Of The Man"- With its title taken
from the Wordsworth poem about viewing a rainbow in the sky (implying
rain!), this song finds Brian in a similar situation, viewing
"Surf's Up"- "While at port" is
Brian, still on the beach. The "now, now, now"
backing chant from the spoken part of "In Blue Hawaii"
is represented in "Surf's Up" by the lyric "all
is lost for now." "In Blue Hawaii"'s
"If I die before I wake" is "Surf's Up"'s
"Adieu or die," and "I could
really use a drop to drink..." leads to "Surf's
Up"'s "look for a title wave." The
"come about hard" lyric is Brian turning around
on the beach only to discover water; "Surf's Up."
The positive "Water" part of Brian's positive trip
experience could be expanded to a whole movement. Brian replays
his positive trip expanding on the idea of the elements that
inspired the SMiLE album in the first place. Brian
is feeling healed and healthy. He is "in the pink!"
"I'm In Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop"-
Here's the answer to the"If I die before I wake I pray
the Lord my soul to take my misery" prayer; his misery
has been taken. Brian is spiritually reborn. "I'm In Great
Shape" begins with Brian waking up, misery free, and obviously
in better shape than ever. Brian has been healed. "I Wanna
Be Around" expresses a desire to help heal others. [Brian
had once referred to "Workshop" as "rebuilding
after the fire" and by seeing the entire SMiLE
album as representing his fire/water trip, this quote makes sense.
Brian rebuilds himself after the fire and the ego loss experience.]
"Vega-Tables"- The opposite of "Barnyard"
and part of the whole spiritual enlightenment health trip that
Brian promoted following his positive fire/water LSD trip experience.
This is the end of the feeling "in the pink"
stuff and it's time to replay the positive trip in order to help
heal other people.
"On A Holiday"- Brian heads to the beach for his
fire/water beach LSD trip experience. We're about to take a trip,
the same trip as side one's "Roll Plymouth Rock," a
"Wind Chimes"- Brian's first trip done in an elemental
way to suit the third movement. The LSD kicks in.
"Mrs. O'Leary's Cow"- Brian contemplates his bookstore
flashback mystery only to have a fiery horror movie served up
right before his eyes. This is the negative part of the positive
experience. The "Fire" will eventually be elongated
into SMiLE's first movement, so the "bells
& whistles" music that precedes the "Fire"
music can rightly be called "Heroes And Villains (intro)."
"In Blue Hawaii"- At the point when things seem
bleakest...salvation! This is the positive part of the positive
experience. Brian replays his trip envisioning the SMiLE
album. The lyric, "lay before me. Wholly Holy Cow!"
is Brian seeing "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" in elongated
form. Through SMiLE Brian can unite the unenlightened people
with the enlightened people.
"Good Vibrations"- The negative and the positive
go together to form Brian's happy LSD trip experience. We are
left with good vibrations.