i just wasn’t made for these times.

(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – November 2021)

I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
I’ve been trying hard to find the people
That I won’t leave behind

On the 27th of July, 1979 I was staying with a friend of my Auntie Jen in Tustin, Orange County, California in the good old US of A. I know that because it was one of the few times in my life I kept a diary. Ask me where I left my glasses an hour ago, I probably couldn’t tell you, so diaries are a good thing. Although writing about spectacles on an hourly basis is probably a bit time consuming and not that interesting reading – assuming said glasses found – but I think I’ve made my point!

Anyhoo !

Tustin is a 15 minute bus ride from Disneyland, Anaheim so that is where my travelling companion Russ and I found ourselves on that day.

Having availed ourselves of many of the rides, both exhilarating (Magic Mountain) and pedestrian (Pirates of the Caribbean) and managing not to regurgitate the copious amounts of overpriced junk food we had consumed, we decided to see this day out to it’s finality and witness the daily parade and firework display. In the meantime we thought we would get away from the annoying impoverished college students perspiring in cartoon character suits and catch some live music.

We caught the end of a very lively Louie Bellson Big Band set and moved on to watch a Beach Boys tribute band, all tight harmonies, matching Hawaiian shirts, white slacks and loafers.

As I was enjoying the Surf Sounds I was conscious of a figure lurking in my peripheral view not a couple of yards away. I turned around to see this tall, bedraggled figure with long dark greasy hair, a gaudy tan checked sports jacket and bright blue tracksuit pants. Not what I would call appropriate attire for a Californian summer.

He met my gaze with a blank, mask like, expressionless stare and I quickly averted my eyes.

Subsequently, I went on to have a 30 year career in nursing, albeit in the surgical area, but I witnessed that same soulless gaze in many unfortunately drug induced or mentally unstable clientele.

Eyes forward, I continued to enjoy the entertainment acutely aware of the presence to my right. After a short while, I sneaked a peek and the figure had moved on but there was a little bit of a commotion on stage. I could make out that same character stepping on to the stage. I hoped Security was close by when there was an announcement.

“Ladies and gentleman, Brian Wilson”

There he was in all his dishevelled glory, playing bass and singing his heart out. The creator of this most popular and enduring sound.

I never thought of my self as a big Beach Boys fan although, like many, I loved the early singles. Come to think of it, I had a copy of “Surf’s Up” at the time and over the years have collected CDs of “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and a “Best of” compilation. Maybe I’m more of a fan than I thought !

I don’t need to remind you Baby Boomers of the many trials and tribulations of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. There have been endless books, articles and documentaries written and made that lay bare Brian Wilson’s personal battles. They even dramatised his life in the film “Love & Mercy”, which thankfully I have not seen. This is a man who couldn’t get out of bed for two years.

To put things into perspective, I did a little (Google) research.

Early in 1979, Brian was institutionalised at Brotzman Memorial Hospital for a few months. He then went on to live in Pacific Palisades (on the coast an hour away from Tustin) having sacked his ‘minders’ – one being Mike Love’s brother, former pro basketball player, Stan. Wilson was meant to produce the Beach Boy’s “L.A.(light album)” but bailed out after a few demos and left it in the hands of his long time deputy Bruce Johnston. The album was a major flop.

So, unbeknown to me, I was briefly standing next to one of the most legendary performer/songwriters/producers of all time. The man who brought you the subliminal modern day hymn “God Only Knows” and so much more and I turned away.

What would have happened if, like a half decent human being, I had returned his vacant look with a faint smile or even an “Yaw right pal ?”

“Hi John, Brian here. How are you doing ? Pauline’s well ? What was I like back in ’79 ?”

Maybe not.

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can’t find nothin’ I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can’t find nothin’ I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn’t made for these times

Look after each other.

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