cover image Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy

Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy

Mike Love, with James S. Hirsch. Blue Rider, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-399-17641-8

In the 1960s, Love, along with his cousins Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, rode high on a wave of the Beach Boys’ popularity until it eventually came crashing to the shore when a swell of infighting, as well as Brian’s deteriorating mental condition, washed over them. In this fiercely honest, sometimes arrogant, memoir, Love transfixes readers with his stories of the rise and fall of the band, his own work as a songwriter, and his deep engagement with spirituality and the ways that it has influenced his music. As a teenager, he was obsessed with Chuck Berry’s poetic lyrics and with R&B in general, while Brian was fascinated by the folk music of Ricky Nelson and the harmonies of the Four Freshman. By his 20s, Love recalls that he and his cousins recognized their tremendous musical gifts and that there was “magic in that gene pool” that needed to be set free. Before long, Love was writing lyrics for songs such as “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “California Girls,” and “Good Vibrations.” In spite of Love’s lyrical contributions to the songs, he’s not given credit on the records: “I knew I was losing out on songwriter royalties.... I just wanted my own name on the label.” By the late ’70s, the band fractured, and in mind-numbing prose, Love describes his legal battles to win a settlement against Brian for lost royalties. Love’s sobering look at the ups and downs of a rock and roll band nevertheless ends on a note of hope that music can provide harmony in word and spirit for a struggling world. (Sept.)