By D.A. Ball
February 24, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience

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In high school, Beach-Boy-to-be Brian Wilson got a C for writing ”Surfin”’ instead of a required piano sonata. His ”fear of collisions” made him a lousy quarterback, and he was too scared of the water to surf. Besides such fun tidbits, Billboard editor in chief Timothy White’s reporting in The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, And The Southern California Experience transcends that of most starstruck anecdotal collections. He places the Beach Boys’ appeal in context through intriguing social histories of California immigration and economics, surfing, smog, ’50s gangs, and even the evolution of the garage (where early rock & rollers did their first work). He outlines the relationship of the Beach Boys to the Byrds, Jan & Dean, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles and avoids the standard rock-bio pitfall of glib psychoanalysis, even when discussing Brian’s Elvis-like descent into disabling emotional problems, drugs, and morbid obesity. The Beach Boy who brought us all that fun, fun, fun spent a lot of time in misery, but he was talented enough to transform our music — and lucky enough to have this fine biographer. B+

The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience

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  • The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience
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