Lo And Behold!
Out-Of-Sight! SMiLE Site
Sighting and citing the words of Brian Wilson to come up with
the most Out-Of-Sight explanation of SMiLE ever!

Where It's At

Brian Wilson explains what's behind his musical new direction to journalist Tom Nolan sometime around November, 1966.

"About a year ago I had what I consider to be 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, like patience, understanding. I can't teach you, or tell you what I learned from taking it. But I consider it a very religious experience."

If one tries to locate the two LSD trips that Brian refers to in the above quote, using his biography as a guide (as it is the sole source available for this type of thing), one finds that Brian's first LSD trip had to take place prior to April 6, 1965 (the first recording date for "California Girls"). This locates Brian's first LSD trip well over a year and a half prior to Brian's quote to Nolan and therefore not likely one of the LSD trips that influenced Brian's spiritual musical direction (note that David Leaf's SMiLE DVD Beautiful Dreamer completely misses the boat by solely referencing the first trip).

Brian's biography places his second LSD trip as having taken place months prior to the end of the year. This would likely place the second trip somewhere around October, 1965, about a year prior to Nolan's interview with Wilson. The biography notes that the acid for this trip was "Strong stuff....which I understood to be an extremely potent dose." This description jibes with the "full dose of LSD" Wilson described for Tom Nolan making Brian's second LSD trip an important SMiLE related event.

The biography describes Brian's third, and final, LSD trip as "four hours of enlightenment and spirituality" which would indeed indicate that a "smaller dose" of acid was ingested this time around. Wilson's third LSD trip, then, is another important SMiLE related event; most likely the event from which Brian Wilson "learned a lot of things, like patience, understanding."

Keeping the above in mind here's a time line of SMiLE that explains things logically. This time line shows SMiLE to be a totally consistent and focused piece of art. There are no contradictions! We start with Brian's second LSD trip.

The Out-Of-Sight!
SMiLE Time Line
Brand new Out-Of-Sight vision to help you see just Where It's At!
(Keith Badman's book THE BEACH BOYS is a gas, and helped make this thing easy.)

Months before late December 1965
Brian Wilson takes acid for the second time, an "extremely potent dose."

This LSD trip serves up a "horror movie" that begins with the sound of sirens from nearby fire trucks. Brian imagines being consumed by flames and dying. "...I was bathed in flames, dying, dying, and then the screen inside my brain went blank. I visualized myself drifting back in time. Getting smaller and younger." Brian relives arguments he'd had with his father. He continues to drift back in time. "I continued getting smaller. I was a baby. An infant. Then I was inside the womb. An egg. And then, finally, I was gone. I didn't exist."

Did Brian Wilson lose his ego during this experience? Was this ego-death? Only Brian knows for sure. But in any case it seems likely that such questions must have entered Brian's mind at this point.

When asked about the Pet Sounds song "Hang On To Your Ego" and "ego" Brian responded, "Yeah. I had taken a few drugs, and I had gotten into that kind of thing. I guess it just came up naturally."

Brian may have "gotten into that kind of thing" by reading books. Brian appears to have been interested in subjects like psychology, philosophy, religion, and the psychedelic experience. Books on Eastern philosophy and the psychedelic experience, in particular, often point to the loss of ego, or ego-death, as the key to a better way of living.

"Studying metaphysics was also crucial, but Koestler's book really was the big one for me."
Brain Wilson

November 1, 1965
Recording "Trombone Dixie." At this session Brian also records "In My Childhood," which will eventually be re-titled "You Still Believe In Me." The title "In My Childhood" may be related to Brian "drifting back in time" to his childhood during his second LSD trip.

December 20, 1965
"Barbara Ann" single is released.

Several days before Christmas 1965
Brian suffers what he considers an acid flashback in the Pickwick Bookstore. It is a totally unexpected experience.

"I couldn't even remember why I'd gone to the store. It was spooky. I walked into the store anyway. The clerk, who knew me, said hello and mentioned that he was crazy about "Barbara Ann," which was all over the radio."
[Similarly, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE begins with "Gee," another doo wop classic, coming over the radio.]
"Moving slowly into the aisles, I concentrated on reading the book titles and their authors....I paged through books..."
[Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE offers up the musical equivalent of this by presenting snippets of various songs by various composers.]
"I stared at the pages, tried to read, but the letters all vibrated on the pages and I couldn't make sense of anything."
[The sound effects that precede "I Wanna Be Around" on Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE may be a musical depiction of this sort of thing.]
"Then I saw the books melting down the shelves, dripping like wax down the side of a candle."
[The ending of "You Are My Sunshine" may be a musical depiction of this visual.]
"The room began to spin. I was in the center of a giant spinning top. Turning, turning, turning. The moment was completely surreal."
[The opening section from "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" seems like a musical representation of this.]

"As the buzz subsided into a manageable burned-out sensation, I remembered Loren once explaining that hallucinations were comparable to Zen riddles, mysteries full of meaning. What had mine meant? I had driven to the bookstore, looking for what? Inspiration? Instead, I'd seen books melting, unable to grasp the knowledge contained in them.
If that was a riddle, I wanted to know the solution."

January 1966
Brian seeks guidance from his astrologer regarding the direction for his next album. Brian tells her "about the hallucination I'd had in the bookstore last December, presenting it as a riddle." The astrologer gives advice that resonates well with Wilson. "If I wasn't able to find inspiration for songs outside myself, as in books, then I had to look someplace else. I had to look inward. I had to write about the spirituality I felt in my heart."

We can infer from the above that Brian was looking to books for inspiration and thinking in terms of albums and riddles.

The song "In My Childhood" effectively becomes "You Still Believe In Me" at this point as Brian now knows the musical direction he'll take for his next LP, Pet Sounds.

January 7, 1966
The Beach Boys begin a tour that takes them to Japan and will end in Hawaii on January 29th.

January 10, 1966
The photos of the Beach Boys in Samurai outfits are taken at Samurai Studios in Kyoto, Japan. Some of these pictures will eventually adorn the back cover of Pet Sounds. Perhaps the Samurai's connection to Zen and its riddles played some part in the decision to use the pictures.

February 1966
Sometime during this month, Brian meets Van Dyke Parks at a party held at Terry Melcher's house.

Brian notes in his biography that Parks "...spoke in funny, poetic, often beguiling torrents." And one wonders if Wilson, already thinking in terms of albums and riddles (see January 1966), had Parks pegged as a potential lyricist for this sort of thing right from the start.

February 7, 1966
Recording sessions are held for "Let Go Of Your Ego" AKA "Hang On To Your Ego." The ego-loss idea is related to LSD but it is also a major component of Eastern philosophies. Brian also noticed the relationship between ego and humor.

"It explains that people attach their egos to their sense of humor before anything else."

During the recording session for "Ego" Brian mentions the comedy album How To Speak Hip. The album includes the following:

'"Like in Zen...the Zen Buddhists have these koans, you know, they're riddles that you meditate on. And the whole purpose of the riddles is to hang you up, like, "We know the sound of two hands but what is the sound of one hand?" Now that's had Buddhist monks hung up for years."'

This passage would have registered with Brian given his bookstore flashback riddle experience in late December.

The title and lyrics of "Hang On To Your Ego" were eventually changed. The resulting song, "I Know There's An Answer," contains the line, "I know there's an answer. I know now, but I have to find it by myself."

Wilson will indeed find the answer to his flashback riddle in late April.

February 17, 1966
The first sessions for "Good Vibrations" are held.

April 9, 1966
Brian records "Good Vibrations" (session 5) in the same fashion as he has recorded the songs for Pet Sounds. The track is given a master number (#55949) indicating that it is a recording potentially worthy of release.

April 25, 1966
Pet Sounds promo film shot in the mountainous areas above Lake Arrowhead, California. This completes the group's work for Pet Sounds.

The Arrowhead is located above the warm mineral springs.
This is the Great Spirit's sign that there is to be peaceful location for all,
and that the valley below was given to them.

April 26 or 27, 1966
This webpage contends that Brian Wilson drops acid for the third time on the beach located in Lake Arrowhead, California. Brian contemplates the riddle and finds the answer to the riddle he was presented with in December. It is the ultimate religious experience ("...this trip was the ultimate in LSD joyrides--everything it was supposed to be, four hours of enlightenment and spirituality") from which a new "reborn" Brian Wilson emerges. Part of the enlightening spiritual experience is the conceiving of the Beach Boys' next album and single.

This statue points to the sacred hot springs. When Indians fought,
both sides would take their wounded to the healing mineral springs,
which was considered neutral ground. There was peace in the valley.

Brian's biography describes Brian dropping Al Jardine off at the William Morris Agency (the group's booking agency) the day after Brian's third LSD trip. Wilson is telling Jardine about the great trip he'd just had the previous day--trying to convince Jardine to drop acid. Since the Beach Boys started another tour on April 28th it is likely that Brian dropped Al off on either the 27th or 28th.
The biography also makes mention that it is during Brian's third LSD trip that Wilson envisions the "grand Spectorlike production" that was to eventually become "Good Vibrations." And it should be noted that weeks after this acid trip Brian returned to the studio to work on "Good Vibrations" and began to record the song using new methods and techniques. Brian would use these same new techniques (recording in sections, using various studios, recording the same section of music in different ways, seeking perfection) for SMiLE.

Some SMiLE books point to Big Sur as the likely location for much of SMiLE's inspiration. This is based upon a quote from David Anderle. It is important to note that the Lake Arrowhead region features many of the same features that Anderle attributed to Big Sur while discussing "The Elements" with CRAWDADDY! editor Paul Williams. The Lake Arrowhead region has mountains, snow, beach, pools, and water fountains. When Anderle said that Brian "ran up to Big Sur for a week" he may have, for whatever reason, gotten the location and duration of Brian's adventure wrong (many years ago a noted Brian Wilson authority told me that the Pet Sounds promo film locale was "Big Sur." In other words, when David Anderle noted Brian's trip to Big Sur, he was actually noting Brian's trip to the mountains above Lake Arrowhead).

There is a good chance that rain may have fallen at some point during this LSD trip as there are repeated references to rain in mountainous Brian Wilson songs ("Sweet Mountain,""Diamond Head") as well as visual references in Frank Holmes' SMiLE drawings. The Wordsworth poem containing the "The Child is father of the Man" line is based upon the sight of a rainbow; which also implies rain. The idea of rain, snow, the lake, pool, water fountains, and as David Anderle put it "a lot of water" implies that Brian's third LSD trip was water to his second trips' fire.
Anderle observed that "the whole thing was this fantastic amount of awareness of his surroundings" and much of SMiLE supports this statement. SMiLE honors the site of Brian Wilson's ultimate religious experience, presenting it as a riddle.

The distinctive dance pavilion.

The Lake Arrowhead region was inhabited by the Native American Indians prior to the Europeans using the area for logging. In the 1800s Chinese workers were used to blast tunnels through the San Bernardino mountains bringing the railroad to Lake Arrowhead. The Arrowhead Reservoir Company began dam construction in 1901 but work was eventually halted when a group of united landowners won a court case against the company. Today, there are still some old cabins in the Lake Arrowhead area that date back to the 1900s.

Dam project undertaken by the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company.
Note the "iron horse" at the bottom center of the picture.

The Lake Arrowhead influence upon SMiLE can be seen primarily in the project's earliest compositions, the sandbox songs; "Heroes And Villains," "Surf's Up," and "Cabin Essence." After Brian and Van Dyke had "canvas(ed) the town" they decided to "brush the backdrop" stretching things from Plymouth Rock to Hawaii. Their purpose remained the same; to document and share the religious experience.

The clock tower in the village.

In Jules Siegel's famous Goodbye Surfing Hello God! article Brian appears to link the beach experience to a spiritual "death and rebirth" when he speaks about the movie Seconds. Brian explains that, "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."

This likely places Brian's religious experience "on the beach" (the sandbox that Brian composed from was an attempt to recreate the feel of the beach in order to put the ultimate religious experience into the music) and the Out-Of-Sight! SMiLE Site places the beach at Lake Arrowhead. Ego loss, or ego-death, is very likely part of this beach experience.

"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

This experience was described in Brian's bio as "four hours of enlightenment and spirituality" and it led to Brian's learning "a lot of things, like patience, understanding" as he explained to Tom Nolan. All of these little clues (ego-death, rebirth, enlightenment, understanding) fit together to form the classic religious psychedelic experience. As is often the case with such experiences there concurrently emerges a strong desire to help others achieve a similar level of spiritual success. This is what SMiLE documents.

In late December, 1965 after his acid flashback in Pickwick Books Brian remembered "Loren once explaining that hallucinations were comparable to Zen riddles, mysteries full of meaning." And, true to form, SMiLE songs actually are "mysteries full of meaning," so much so that when anyone attempts to explain them they are automatically at fault for not addressing the multiple meanings that each track appears to have.

"...the listener has to work out by himself what is implied by the laconic hint;
he has to make an imaginative effort to solve the riddle."

Arthur Koestler, THE ACT OF CREATION

Brian could not find inspiration outside himelf for Pet Sounds, but a book did provide inspiration for the riddle, for SMiLE.

"...it turned me on to some very special things."

Arthur Koestler's THE ACT OF CREATION: A Study Of The Conscious And Unconscious Process In Humor, Scientific Discovery And Art (1964) served as an instuctional guide for the creators of the SMiLE album. The book laid out how a hidden layer of meaning could trigger laughter and the spiritual experience. The three quotes below indicate that Brian believed that laughter could help someone let go of their ego.

"The book's about the logic of laughter."
Brian Wilson

"It explains that people attach their egos to their sense of humor before anything else."
Brian Wilson

"He (Brian) felt that the moment somebody laughed, that while they're laughing,
that all control was gone. They cannot control themselves.
And at that moment they can have a spiritual experience."

Michael Vosse

"I have explained earlier on that the term 'self-transcending' or 'participatory' tendencies is meant to refer to those emotional states where the need is felt to behave as a part of some real or imaginary entity which transcends the boundaries of the individual self (whereas when governed by the self-assertive class of emotion, the ego is experienced as a self-contained whole and the ultimate value)."
~Arthur Koestler, THE ACT OF CREATION

The unique lamp design of the Old Lake Arrowhead Village.

Early May 1966
David Anderle enters the picture. Brian immediately begins working in his new spiritual direction with Van Dyke Parks. Wilson asks Parks to write lyrics for "Good Vibrations." Parks declines but begins working with Wilson on "Heroes And Villains" and SMiLE.

May 4, 1966
Brian re-records the opening section of "Good Vibrations." He is apparently dissatisfied and decides to rethink things. He doesn't revisit "Good Vibrations" for three weeks and when he finally does, he begins recording the track in sections.

May 11, 1966
Excited by his new direction and his work with Van Dyke Parks Brian holds a recording session for "Heroes And Villains."

May 16, 1966
Pet Sounds is released.

May 24, 1966
Brian returns to "Good Vibrations" and begins employing his new recording methods. Producing an acceptable version of "Good Vibrations" will be a difficult task as Brian is attempting to realize the perfection of his vision for "Good Vibrations," a vision which originated during Wilson's ultimate religious experience.

August 3, 1966
The SMiLE sessions commence with the instrumental tracking for "Wind Chimes." The SMiLE sessions will be recorded using the same techniques as "Good Vibrations" and Brian will have the same problems with the SMiLE sessions that he has with "Good Vibrations." As with "Good Vibrations," Wilson will seek perfection for his spiritually inspired music, his teenage symphony to God.

September 21, 1966
Brian holds the final session for "Good Vibrations."

October 10, 1966
The "Good Vibrations" single is released.

November 28, 1966
Session for "The Elements (Fire)." This scary track, at least partly based upon Brian Wilson's bad second LSD trip, marks the beginning of the downfall of SMiLE, and it is this observer's opinion that Brian's reaction to the track marked the beginning of his questioning the appropriateness of SMiLE and the idea of mystically bringing (via the riddle) the spiritual LSD experience to the general public. The negativity that begins at this point eventually will lead Wilson (a decade after SMiLE's demise) to claim "It was destroying me! I was being destroyed thinking about it!" and "We were doing witchcraft, trying to make witchcraft music." Wilson would continue to claim that the music is "inappropriate" into the next century.

This is where the Out-Of-Site! SMiLE Site ends its time line. SMiLE was meant to do good things and bring wisdom, health, and happiness to people and in that positive spirit we'd like to stay. The story of SMiLE's undoing can be found elsewhere (unfortunately without the Out-Of-Sight! website's Where It's At insight into why Brian shelved SMiLE).

Thank you Brian Wilson!

SMiLE is Where It's At and it's Out-Of-Sight!
July 31, 1967
The "Heroes And Villains" single is released. It's Brian Wilson's "new spiritual music."

The picture sleeve is inspired by Lake Arrowhead, California (sawmills, Indians).
The timing of the release was based upon advice from Brian's astrologer.
The single's flip side, "You're Welcome," may well have been inspired by Wilson's pro LSD
sales pitch to Al Jardine the day following Brian's ultimate religious experience. Brian's
car repeatedly circled the block, up to twenty-five times, before dropping Jardine off
at the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills.

"I produced two little films for the BBC's Top Of The Pops, scripting and directing them myself...
The second had them in horror masks up in the mountains above Lake Arrowhead (in Hollywood)."
-Derek Taylor
If anybody finds any factual errors or faulty reasoning on this page please let me know. Thanks. Bill Tobelman 2011

The lovely Lake Arrowhead photos on this page can all be found in this book;

Here are some of the websites I used for information:







Curtis Springer, the radio evangelist who initially inspired Brian Wilson's vegetable obsession, founded the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Heath Spa resort.
Perhaps Brian picked up on the similarities between Lake Arrowhead, with its therapeutic mineral springs, and Springer's Zzyzx center.

"Now, Brian Gemini was a very quick-witted sort of soul, and he perceived instantly that he would need a great deal of out-of-sight energy to be able to cope with this new out-of-sight world which he had just seen with his new-found out-of-sight vision.
Shortly after this enlightening perception, a large glob of very green spinich quite fortuitously splatted down upon Brian's knee. What luck!"
~Brain Wilson from his late '66 article for THE BEAT

"I want people to turn on to vegetables, good natural food, organic food. Health is an important ingredient in spiritual enlightenment."
~Brain Wilson

"Brian Gemini, filled with new-found vegetable vigor, jumped to his feet and was red as a beet and then said with great emotion: "David Carrot--we'll soon be in the pink!'"
~Brain Wilson from his late '66 article for THE BEAT


Be sure to check out our other SMiLE pages.
There's an Act Of Creation page;
And our earlier Zen Interpretation page;

The Good Humor SMiLE Site!

"I'm writing a teen-age symphony to God."
-Brian Wilson, October 1966

"That's symbolism right? God can't be conceived of and so therefore we give him a literal meaning and he's in the sky, you know, so that people can understand what is being said."
-Brian Wilson on "Rio Grande"

"Easy my child it's just enough to believe. Out of the wild into what you can conceive, you'll achieve."
-from "Child Is The Father Of The Man"

"I heard the word--of God; Wonderful thing--the joy of enlightenment, of seeing God. And what is it? A children's song!"
-Brian Wilson on "Surf's Up"

"...For man is a symbol-making animal. He constructs a symbolic model of outer reality in his brain, and expresses it by a second set of symbols in terms of words, equations, pigment, or stone. All he knows directly are bodily sensations, and all he can directly do is to perform bodily motions; the rest of his knowledge and means of expression is symbolical. To use a phrase by J. Cohen, man has a metaphorical consciousness."
-Arthur Koestler from The Act Of Creation

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