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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 22, 2005 / 17 Av, 5765

More fun, fun, fun and less talk

By Mitch Albom


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Like a lot of people, I admire Brian Wilson, the soul of the Beach Boys. Over the years, I've had chances to speak with him. When he releases a new CD or comes through town, we'll do an interview. We did one just recently, for radio.

Now, I know Wilson's music backward. I have memorized the lush harmonies of "In My Room," the ahead-of-its-time variations of "Good Vibrations," the seemingly million things that are going on in the background of "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Armed with such loving research, I figured I could draw something new and special out of Wilson.

I was wrong.

My first clue came in our first interview, a few years back. I asked Wilson, for all the happy, surf's up, engine-revving music he'd written — and here I went again, thinking myself clever — what was the saddest song he'd ever composed? He answered quickly. "Caroline, No." And I had it ready. I played it for him down the telephone line:

Where did your long hair go?

Where is the girl I used to know?

When it finished, I said yes, that's a heartbreaking song. And he said, "I wish you hadn't played it. I'm kind of depressed now."

It went downhill from there.

Wilson's story is familiar. A troubled genius whose experiments with drugs in the late '60s led to long, mysterious absences, shady "advisors" and a reclusive, almost childlike personality. The death of two band-mate brothers contributed to his depression and hermitage.

But recent years have drawn him out. Solo albums and the reworking of Beach Boys classics like "Pet Sounds" and "Smile" have returned him to adoring fans. He tours. He records. He is willing — almost eager — to promote his music.

So we keep talking. In subsequent interviews, I have learned that he never learned to surf. (Interesting, for a Beach Boy.) And that when he writes, it's "the rhythm, then the melody, then the lyrics." And that he mostly writes on the piano, although "sometimes I use a guitar."

He is always pleasant. And even though his speech is a bit jumpy, he seems anxious to please. But none of his answers have ever yielded the satisfaction I was yearning for, the "ah-ha!" insight into the innocence of his music or its inspiration.

Then, in our most recent talk, I asked him about the Beatles.

The Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, were fascinated by the Beach Boys. Supposedly, "Sgt. Pepper" was inspired, in part, by "Pet Sounds." Wilson and McCartney had collaborated on a recent project. So I quizzed Wilson about their meeting, certain it had been the Yalta of pop music creators.

"Oh, it was great," he said.

What did you talk about?

"Just small talk. How you doing? What's your next tour?"

That's it, I said? Didn't you want to exchange big ideas on music, harmonies, the untold secrets of the Beatles and Beach Boys?

"Oh, no, no. Just casual talk."

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He laughed a little. And that's when it hit me. If Brian Wilson, alone with Paul McCartney, mostly talked about small stuff, then maybe music is not designed for verbal deconstruction. Maybe it's the hubris of writers to think everything can be broken down into adjectives.

The fact is, we often think conversation with a beloved artist — singer, actor, painter — will yield untold secrets, draw us closer, and put us in his creative space. More often than not, you talk about the weather.

I realize now that I enjoy my talks with Brian Wilson, because I like what he does and he's a sweet guy.

But anything more — any magical insight — is unlikely to happen, because by the time we speak, he has done his important talking. It wasn't with me. But I can get it anytime.

Just hit "play."

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