The Beach Boy everyone loves to hate speaks his piece—sometimes sweetly, often gruffly, but always candidly.
As has been the case for half a century, Love has axes to grind: Uncle Murry Wilson cut him out of lots of cash. “My dad fucked us,” says cousin Brian, who cut him out of lots of credit. And fans have cut him out of the ardor reserved for the three Wilson brothers—and even Al Jardine. The author tends to the blustery in this memoir, but he’s got claim to bragging rights; after all, as he’s quick to insist, he gave Paul McCartney the idea for the Beach Boys–ish chorus in “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” and he sprinkled the song “Good Vibrations” and the rest of the catalog with special magic. One can certainly appreciate why he might feel bitter, since suits and countersuits have been flying like surfboards atop the cresting waves for decades, but Love is not inclined to make nice even as he drifts toward his ninth decade, and he’s taking no prisoners. When he revisits embarrassing moments such as his notorious Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, he’s generally convinced of his righteousness (“I didn’t have time to meditate that day,” he says of that unproud moment, “so I was even more on edge”). A few more efforts to soothe ruffled feathers and forgive trespasses would have taken the aggrieved, resentful edge off this book, but still, it’s good to hear the much-repeated story of the Beach Boys’ implosion from the point of view of the canonical villain of the piece. And you’ve got to admire his stamina: he gets up and goes to it each day, he says, because “the music is now part of our country’s DNA,” and go to it he does, hitting stages all over the world hundreds of times a year.
For Beach Boys completists, essential. For die-hard fans of Love & Mercy, probably one to miss.